If you’re looking to hire a car for your holiday or business trip, keep these tips in mind so you can find a better deal.
1. Book early
Comparing prices and quotes before you travel can give you a better chance of finding a good deal as you’ll be able to see all the options available, including any additional extras you might need.
If you leave it until you’re abroad to find a hire car, you might find yourself short of choices – and the ones you have could be more expensive than if you had shopped around beforehand.
2. Beware of extras
Car hire companies offer a number of extras alongside the vehicle itself, so it’s important to know which you need and which you don’t.
For example, some providers charge extra for baby and child car seats and sat-nav systems, so you could save by bringing your own – or you could even use your smartphone as a sat-nav, but beware of data and roaming costs (if you’re outside Europe).
3. Check for pre-existing damage
When you pick your car up from the car hire company, give it a thorough once-over to check for any pre-existing damage – for example, dents, scratches or stains caused by previous drivers.
This way you can ensure they’re logged before your own hire begins, so the damage won’t be pinned on you.
4. Forced upgrades
Car hire companies may have the right to upgrade your car to a more expensive model if the one you were promised is unavailable, and they’ll generally charge you extra for this.
Read the terms and conditions of your car hire carefully so you can avoid this potential problem or be prepared if you can’t.
5. Keep an eye on the fuel tank
Car hire companies offer different options when it comes to fuel – so after collecting the car with a full tank, you may either have to return it with an empty tank or a replenished tank. You may lose out if you have to return it empty as it can be difficult to use every drop of fuel.
However, if you elect to return the tank full and are unable to do so, you may be charged a higher price to refill it than you would pay at a petrol station. This is why it can be important to read the terms and conditions carefully to understand exactly what your provider wants from you.
6. Excess waiver policies
If you have an accident and your hire car is damaged, you’ll have to pay the first part of the claim – known as the excess. This can be very expensive – in some cases as much as £2,000 - so it can be a good idea to look for an excess waiver policy to cover the costs.
However, it’s best to avoid taking out a policy at the car rental desk (no matter how persuasive they are), as these policies can cost far more (often around £20 a day) than if you take out a standalone policy through providers such as iCarhireinsurance.com before you travel.
7. Drive sensibly
You can help cut costs by being a diligent driver when you hire your car. This means following traffic rules and driving carefully, as well as following any rules the car hire company sets out. Remember to return the car on time too, so you don’t have to pay any late fees.
If you're planning to hire a car in the EU, you might be wondering how Brexit could affect you. However, it's unlikely much will change. It's possible that you'll need an International Driving Permit to drive in the EU once we've left, but no one knows for sure that that will be the case. You can pick one up from select Post Office branches for £5.50.
And although you might need a green card to prove you're insured to drive in the EU after Brexit, this will only apply to your own car - you won't need one if you're hiring a car in the EU.