Things to Consider When Renting a Car
We are always looking for the best car rental deal and we have made a small list for you on how to avoid hassle and hard sales at rental counters in your holiday
Car rental companies work the same way as airlines, which means you have to book early and online for the cheapest deals. A booking in February compared to June can reduce the average two week rental period by £ 100. If you have yet to book this summer's trip, it's not too late, but don't get stuck when you head to a popular destination.
Online brokers are usually the cheapest, but car rental companies' own websites will sometimes match them if they have a sale. It's a confusing market designed to catch the unwary, and the key to getting a good deal is making sure you compare to like.
• On- or off-airport
Is the car delivered from an airport terminal or is it taking a shuttle bus to an off-terminal site? Off-airport companies are generally cheapest, but taking the bus can be a hassle, and if you shop around you can usually find an airport deal for the same price. Unless you do a long rental period where the savings are significant, buyers should stick to airport sites.
• Cancellation costs
Try to find a deal where you can cancel for free up to 24-48 hours before the car is collected. That way, you get a cheap deal by booking early in the year, but you can search the week again before you go on a bargain at the last minute.
A few years ago, Spanish car rental companies introduced a 'full-to-empty' policy: you pay for the full tank when you pick up the car and return it empty. It sounds convenient, but comes at an extra cost, especially if you don't go far and don't use the full tank you paid for. This policy has proved so unpopular among tenants returning half a tank that the latest development is the partial refund policy.
Are you the only driver? Having one driver greatly reduces costs. Some companies add a second driver for free, others charge € 5- € 6 per day, which can add up considerably.
• Child seats
Bring car seats. Some companies charge € 20 return for a car seat if it is pre-booked online, while even the cheaper car rental companies charge € 30 for a child seat on a two week rental period. You also can't be sure of the quality and fit, so bring your own.
Always look at the number of seats and doors of the offered car. The vehicle shown online is almost certainly not the vehicle you get - companies always add the phrase "or similar" to bookings. A trick when booking a small car is to make sure it is a four-door model. These often run out and you will get an upgrade to a larger four-door car at no extra cost. But don't book one that is too small for your needs. If you have to upgrade at the counter because your luggage doesn't fit, it can cost hundreds. Families who need six or seven seats may find it cheaper to rent two small cars than a passenger bus. It is madness, but it is.
Once you've made a deal, just buy the basic package. Car rental companies make a profit by selling add-ons, which can be absurdly expensive. In particular, do not buy insurance for "super collision damage waiver" (CDW). Instead, arrange your own coverage. Also, avoid covering extra personal belongings as this is a waste of money.