Holidays are a time to relax and have fun, but if you want the freedom to get around the local area easily and explore your holiday destination at your heart’s content, chances are you’ll need a hire car. While there’s no shortage of car hire companies offering their services, how do you know you’re not paying over the odds, there are no hidden charges or you’ll end up with huge bills in case of an accident?
We’ve put together 4 steps you should take to make sure you get the best deal on holiday car rental.
Choose The Right Car
The first decision you need to take is about the sort of car you need. How many people are in your party? Do you need a small car or a people carrier? In order to get the best deal, it pays to be sensible in your choice of car. Is a h family saloon really necessary when a medium hatchback will do? Hiring a 4×4 can be more than double the cost
If you’re going as a couple, would you be happy with a cheap and cheerful Fiat 500 or Peugeot 107? Or would you , all the better to cruise around a Mediterranean island with the top down?
Once you’ve made the booking, make sure you get what you pay for when it comes to collecting your car. Check the contract and don’t let the car hire company persuade you to upgrade or go for unnecessary extras.
The trick to getting the best deal on your holiday car hire is to shop around online; price comparison websites are your friend. Simply type ‘holiday car rental’ into Google and choose one of the many sites. Then enter your destination, travel dates, driver age and the type of car that fits your criteria into the search box and wait for the results to appear.
Price comparison websites will search the majority of car hire firms, but they tend to and may miss out local operators that might have been able to offer a better deal. Smaller car hire firms can keep costs down by not paying to be listed on comparison websites, and by being based away from expensive, prime locations such as airports.
It’s worth checking out local hire car hire companies as well as word of mouth recommendations from people who have been to your holiday destination.
Be Insurance Savvy
Car hire insurance can be a nightmare. Of course you’ll automatically be legally insured with any car rental but the level of cover may differ from what your own car insurance provides. Standard car hire insurance will most likely carry a large excess and certain items may be excluded: vehicle theft, damage to tyres or windscreens, personal accident and loss of life. What’s more, if you’re under 25 years old, you may be charged a substantial Young Person’s Surcharge. Extra cover is, of course, available to purchase through car hire companies, and includes Collision Damage Waiver, Theft Protection, Personal Insurance and Personal Effects Cover, to mention a few.
Shopping around for the best insurance deals is highly recommended since these add-ons can be expensive, especially when purchased at the point of collecting the car when you have no choice. Advance planning is key. Check if your travel insurance provides any car insurance – many will cover third party liability claims and theft, meaning you don’t need to buy extra cover. Also look at standalone car insurance policies that don’t come from car hire firms whose premiums may be substantially cheaper. Finally, to cover the cost of your excess if you have to make a claim.
Paying for fuel used to be a straightforward process: you collect the car with a full tank and return it with a full tank – simple, as long as you can find a petrol station on your return journey. A car returned with a less than full tank would occur a hefty surcharge by the car hire company to cover the cost of the refill. From the holidaymaker’s point of view, this is still the most financially advantageous way of dealing with the issue of fuel. Check (and insist, if possible) that this option is available.
However, these days it is common practice to . This may be more convenient to you, but you’re likely to pay over the odds for the fuel. The majority of car rental companies charge a 20-30% higher price for fuel than you would pay at the pump. What’s more, you’ll be charged for a full tank even though there may still be some fuel left in it when the car is returned. Particularly if you hire a diesel car, it is nigh on impossible to get through a whole tank in a week unless you’re doing a lot of driving every day.