Selecting the right holiday car rental, at the best price, can seem like a big task, particularly with stories of unscrupulous car rental firms springing unfair charges on their customers making the news.
While it pays to choose your car hire firm wisely, there’s still lots of great deals to be had, with daily rates available from as little as £3, so long as you book early.
In this article, CashLady explains how to secure low-cost car rental, while protecting yourself from receiving unfair penalties after you have handed back the keys.
Comparison websites for cheap holiday car rental
A must for locating and comparing the cheapest car rental deals, you should use comparison websites just like you would at the initial stages of booking your holiday when researching flights.
While you don’t necessarily have to book through them, you can do it directly if you prefer, spending a little time on websites such as Skyscanner and Travel Supermarket will give you an idea of typical prices and help you avoid paying more than you should.
Book your holiday car rental early
Leaving your car hire until the last minute means you will pay far more than you would if you book in advance.
Booking at the airport will most certainly cost you dearly and so, like with your holiday flights, it pays to plan ahead.
Check out ‘fly and drive’ car rental options
In some cases, ‘fly drive,’ package options offered by budget airlines or online flight bookers, such as kayak, are cheaper than booking directly with a car hire firm.
If you are buying a package holiday, including flight and hotel, then adding car hire may be cheaper and the holiday covered under ATOL protection.
Don’t forget to compare package prices with booking directly to ensure that you are getting the cheapest deal.
Your car rental agreement
When comparing car hire deals, there are lots of variables that you need to consider for a fair comparison. Knowing these key details will also help ensure that you don’t get caught out later when agreeing your rental.
The full price for car rental
Is everything is included in the final price? Airport surcharge, taxes and basic insurance, covering the minimum requirement for the country that you’re hiring in, will all drive up the price.
The charge for excess
In the unfortunate event that you have to pay for damage to the car, you need to be aware how much the insurance excess it going to cost.
Clarify whether the rental company would accept a separate insurance policy, as in many cases this is much cheaper than organising it through them.
They may request a high deposit if you insure independently and so check this first to avoid any nasty surprises when you collect the car.
The fuel policy
The rental firm’s policy for fuel is important. Traditionally, rental cars were hired with a full tank of petrol and then returned with a full tank, however, many online companies require the tank to be returned empty.
This means that you may pay over the odds for the initial tank and then lose out when you return the car because it’s very unlikely that the tank will be completely empty.
Saving money when collecting your car
When you go to pick up your car, there are lots that you can do to protect yourself from unfair charges and paying for services that you don’t need.
If you are offered an upgrade then clarify whether the additional charge is daily or covers the whole rental period, and then consider whether you really need it.
Think carefully before agreeing to optional extras, such as roadside assistance. If your rental car breaks down then the rental firm should help resolve the situation themselves.
Inspecting the car for damage
When collecting the car, use the camera on your phone to take photos of any existing damage, including scratches, to avoid any unfair blame heaped on you when you return the vehicle. Pay close attention to the wing mirrors and underside of bumpers and make sure all damage is noted before you drive away.
If it is dark when you collect the car then use the torch on your phone when making the initial inspection. To be extra safe, take the same pictures when you return the car and so if you receive any unfair charges for damage, then you have evidence to support your dispute.
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