Top 10 tips when booking car hire

1. Rental Agreement

A rental agreement is a legal contract between you and the rental company allowing you to rent the vehicle.  After a long-haul flight your mind is not at its best so make sure you read it carefully. Ensure you understand what you are agreeing to.  It might contain extras that you do not necessarily need and can request these be removed.

2. Insurance Excess

Like your own car insurance, car hire normally has an excess on the insurance.  Always check this when booking your car hire and ensure your travel insurance is sufficient.  As a rule, book the inclusive rates so the insurance excess is lower and can be nil.  If there is an excess, you will be offered the option to pay to reduce it when you collect your car.  Weather you do or not is up to you and this will depend on your travel insurance cover.      

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3. One Way Rentals

When a rental is dropping off at a different depot from the pick-up it is considered a one-way rental.  This can even apply within the same city and a one-way fee may apply.  This should be advised at the time of booking and is payable when you collect the vehicle.  The fees can often be very expensive, so this is something to be considered when planning your trip.  Depending on the countries and cities you are driving between there might be no or very little charge and it can vary between rental companies.  

4. Child Seats

You might not think you need a child or booster seat, but this will depend on the laws in the country you are visiting.  Adding a child seat to your rental can sometimes add a significant extra cost.  The charge is normally per day and there may be no cap.  As with one-way fees, the charge is payable at the time of collection and cannot be prepaid.  You can confirm the cost of the child or booster seat prior to travel and you might consider taking your own.  

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5. Additional Drivers

Depending on the rate you have booked there might be a charge if have more than one driver.  Most rates with the top rental companies include at least one additional driver.  Just make sure any additional drivers’ details are on the rental agreement to ensure you are all covered by insurance.

6. Young Driver Surcharge

A surcharge may apply depending on the age of the drivers.  There are several factors that effect this but the main one is insurance.  As a rule, it will apply to drivers under 25 and is payable at the time of collection.  There may also be a minimum age to rent a vehicle so this must be checked at the time of booking.

7. Driving restrictions

Depending on where you are planning to drive there are some roads you are not permitted to drive on.  Most of the time you must drive on sealed roads to ensure you are covered by insurance.  This can vary from country to country and car type to car type.  If you hire a 4WD vehicle for example you may be permitted to drive on non-sealed roads.  In some countries you must have a 4WD to drive on certain tracks.  You need to consider this when planning you route.  Depending on the rental company you may not be permitted to take the vehicle on a car ferry.  In New Zealand most rental companies require you to drop-off a car on one island and pick-up a new car on the other.

8. Fuel

When you collect your car hire it should be full of fuel and the rental company will expect you to return it with a full tank.  They normally offer you the option to pre-pay for fuel at the time of collection.  The rate set by the rental company is often above the average rate for fuel in the area.  Most rental vehicles are petrol but some are diesel.  Be careful when filling up or it could make it a very expensive trip.

9. Airport Fees

If you are picking up your car hire at an airport you will pay a higher rate.  Rental companies pay additional fees to have vehicles located at the airport which get passed on to you.  Picking up your car hire from a downtown location can save you quite a bit.  If you do not book an inclusive rate, the airport fees are payable direct at the time of pick-up.

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10. 24 Hour Periods

The number of days you rent the vehicle is calculated on 24-hour periods.  If you drop the car off an hour after the pick-up time you may be charged an extra day’s rental.  This can work in your favour if the number of days falls into the next rate bracket.  The daily rate drops the longer you have the car.  Car rental prices are in brackets, 1-3, 4-7, 8-14, 15–20 & 21+ days.  This can vary between companies and by country.  Experiment with the duration to see if you can get it cheaper by booking more days.  You do not necessarily need to keep the vehicle for the full period  

The advice provided is general in nature and may not be relevant at the time you read this.  You must consider your situation and at we always recommend you research your trip before you make a booking.  If unsure ask whoever you are booking with, they will provide you the answers to your questions.

Gruffydd James

17 Sep 2021