Some of the best discoveries on a holiday can be found when you’re exploring in a hire car. Having your own wheels allows you to stumble upon stunning viewpoints as you drive, to look around nearby attractions without having to master the local public transport system, and to access secluded beaches many travellers will not find.
Shopping around to find the best deal on your hire always makes good sense, but there are several other hidden costs that can catch you out and cause your hire car costs to spiral.
Read on to find out how to avoid these hidden costs and to keep your overall car hire costs down.
How to find the best car hire deal
Whether you’re looking for a sporty vehicle, a super mini or a larger family car, you’ll find the best deal on your hire car by shopping around on our website advance (www.121rental.com). Not only will this save you money, it will help you to secure the vehicle type you want rather than turning up and choosing from the cars available in the showroom – if there are any left at all.
Don’t forget your car hire excess insurance
Once you’ve sorted out your hire car itself, there are still significant savings to be made, and car hire excess insurance is a common area that trips holidaymakers up.
The cover (also known as excess waiver insurance) is an important purchase as it means you won’t have to foot the first part of the bill should your hire car be stolen or involved in an accident. Recent research from the Post Office found that drivers without this insurance risk paying up to £1,186 in excess charges. But there’s no need to pay over the odds for this protection.
Some extra charges that can be avoided
Even if you’ve pre-booked your hire car and have already bought your excess insurance, the chances are the car hire rep will still have other extras and upgrades up their sleeve to sell you. So, to avoid paying any more than you have to, here are a few extra charges you can avoid.
- Personal accident insurance – This will pay out should you be seriously injured or die in a car accident while you are away. However, this is likely to be covered already by your travel insurance policy, so double check to avoid paying for protection twice.
- Daily charges to hire sat navs or child car seats – If you know you will rely on a sat nav or are travelling with children and will need car seats, be prepared and bring your own from home to avoid steep daily charges. Not only will this save you money, but it will ensure the quality of the items is what you are used to.
- Extra drivers – Adding additional drivers, particularly those under the age of 25, can bump up the cost of hiring a car. So, find out the costs and think realistically about whether the price justifies how often the extra person will actually be behind the wheel.
- Upgrades – At some rental desks – particularly in the USA – you will be told about other higher-spec vehicles that are still available to hire. Unless you can justify the extra cost, don’t let yourself be tempted or, before you know it, you’ll have handed over more of your hard-earned cash.
A pitfall to be aware of
When you pick your hire car up, you may be asked to leave your credit card details as a deposit. To prevent any problems, find out how much this deposit will be and make sure you have adequate funds available. And, remember, this type of transaction is not suitable to put on a pre-paid card.
Keep your fuel costs down
According to the Post Office’s Motoring on the Continent report, UK drivers in Europe can expect to pay significantly more for fuel this summer than last. So, it’s just as important to shop around for fuel while you are away as when you are at home.
Many car hire companies now also operate ‘fuel empty’ policies, whereby you pick up your hire car with a full tank of fuel and are charged for it at a price set by your company. You are then expected to return your car with an empty tank. If you want to avoid this type of policy to control your own fuel costs, find out the rules of the company you are planning to hire with before you book.
Don’t get fined for inadvertently breaking the law
If you’ve managed to escape from the rental desk without paying over the odds for a single item, don’t fall at the last hurdle by picking up a fine while you are away for inadvertently breaking the law. To prevent this, check what the speed limits are on all road types in your destination, do some research on the drink drive limits and find out which essential items you are required by law to have in your vehicle.
Also check parking restrictions carefully and do your homework on a few of the local signs and regulations so you know, for example, if you need a permit for entry into certain parts of the city you are visiting or a vignette (a sticker) displayed in your vehicle to drive on the motorway.
Do you have any tips on keeping car hire costs down? Leave a comment below and let us know.
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