How to cut the cost of skiing holiday car hire

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Flying into Geneva for your winter ski holiday? Better brace yourself for a hefty car hire bill. Thousands of Brits are looking forward to hitting the slopes this winter season. But ski holidays don’t come cheap – especially if you are flying into Geneva to access top Alpine resorts such as Meribel and Val d’Isere in France, and Zermatt in Switzerland. And car hire can have a dramatic impact on how much you have to shell out.

Swiss swizz?

For example, hiring a car in Geneva for a New Year ski trip typically costs about £560 more than hiring one in Sofia in Bulgaria. In fact, Geneva car hire is more expensive than renting a vehicle in most other European cities from which you can reach the slopes. This is according to research from stand-alone car hire insurance excess specialist, iCarhireinsurance.com. The firm researched the costs of five rental companies in the seven European ski gateways of Geneva, Grenoble, Innsbruck, Barcelona, Turin, Sophia and Inverness for a week's hire from 27 December 2015 to 3 January 2016. The average weekly price for hiring a medium compact car in Geneva – before important extras such as snow tyres and additional drivers – is £478.

Extra costs

The extras in Geneva cost on average £64 for an extra driver, £37 for a roof rack, £55 for 'winterisation' cost (winter tyres and snow chains), £43 for a child car seat, £98 for a sat nav and £107 for buying the rental company's car hire excess insurance, all adding up to £882 in total. That’s £430 more than Innsbruck, £315 more than Grenoble, £230 more than Barcelona, £205 more than Inverness, and around £120 more than Turin. Ernesto Suarez, founder of iCarhireinsurance.com, said: “Most skiers will know that skiing in resorts near to Geneva will be significantly more expensive than Bulgaria, but would they factor in a difference of more than £560 for a week’s car hire?”

How to cut car hire costs

The amount you pay to hire a car for your winter sports holiday can make a huge difference to the overall cost of your trip. Here are three top tips to help you keep costs down…
  1. Shop around

Prices vary between the different car hire companies. In Geneva, for example, Avis charges almost £900 overall for the week of December 27, 2015 to January 3, 2016 – almost £200 more than Sixt at £706. So do your research before booking.
  1. Buy stand-alone car hire excess insurance

Buying cover from a specialist provider such as iCarhireinsurance.com in advance could save you a small fortune. Its daily policy costs just £3.99, compared to £26 a day with Europcar in Turin. Having this sort of cover means you don’t have to pay the excess if you are involved in an accident or otherwise damage the vehicle.
  1. Keep extras to a minimum

You can cut the cost of hiring a car by taking extra you need for your trip with you where possible. Bringing a sat nav from home, for example, would save you around £98 for the week in Geneva. But beware: don’t be tempted to scrimp on winter tyres and snow chains. Snow clearance in ski resorts is generally top notch, but you don’t want to get stuck on the hill in a snowstorm.

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