Hiring a car means you can explore wherever you travel at your own pace. Discover quick and easy car hire hacks to help you enjoy all the fun and freedom of renting a car, without any stress.
1) Book your car before you go
It’s worth booking as soon as your trip is confirmed, to avoid last-minute price-hikes and to get the type of car you want. If you’re heading on a spontaneous trip, even booking the night before can save you money. Online reviews can help you choose a good rental company. Just like airlines, car hire companies vary. Some brands offer incredible prices but strip back on service. Others pride themselves on high-quality cars and good customer care, and their customers are prepared to pay a bit more.
2) Get your timings right
Choose pick-up and drop-off times that give you room for maneuver. Many people don’t realize that their rental car won’t wait for them if they’re late. If you’re flying in, give yourself at least an hour to get through passport control and collect your luggage. If you’re flying to a popular destination in peak season, allow yourself even longer, just in case. When you’re flying home, book your car drop-off time at around two-and-a-half hours before your flight leaves. Rental companies do charge late fees, so leave plenty of time for the return drive.
3) Share the journey
The price of a rental car includes one driver, but renters can pay extra to add more drivers and share the experience.
Driving in a different country can feel trickier than driving at home. There are different speed limits, new road signs and rules that may surprise you. If you’re travelling with other people, it can be worth paying a little extra for an additional driver, so two (or more) of you can share the driving. Taking turns means everyone gets to take a break and enjoy the view.
4) Get comfy with your insurance
Rental cars generally come with basic protection, but that doesn’t cover every part of the car. If you’re keen on feeling more protected, you can buy more cover when you book your car, buy it online from an insurance provider, or buy it from the car rental company staff when you pick up the car. It’s up to you whether to buy extra cover or not, but do make sure you’re clear on what you’re covered for (and what you’re not). Then if anything happens, you won’t get an expensive surprise.
5) Read the info, take the paperwork
No one enjoys reading the small print – it’s not exactly a holiday treat. But it is worth taking a few minutes to be clear on what you’re buying, to avoid issues later on. If you book online, you should find the Terms & Conditions of your car on the site, and with your booking confirmation – so you can take a look in the comfort of home before you start your trip.
When you pick up your rental car, the rental company’s counter staff will check your documents and take payment for a security deposit on your credit card. You will definitely need your driving license, a credit card, and some proof of identity. But you may need other documents too, so check your rental’s specific Terms & Conditions before you set off.
6) Be clear on costs
Comparing rental car prices online means you know you’re getting a decent price. But there might be some charges you will pay later, when you arrive to pick up the car. When you’re clear on any extras you’d like, such as an additional driver or one-way trip, you’ll have a good idea of your total rental cost before you set off. You should find the costs of any extras in your rental Ts & Cs.
7) Don’t fixate on the car
Some people don’t realize that when they rent a car, they’re not renting a specific make and model. In fact, rental cars are hired out on an ‘or similar’ basis, which means you could get any car of a similar size and specification to the one you booked. So, it’s not worth worrying about whether you pick one particular car over another very similar one – you could easily end up with the other one, or neither.
8) Think about extra kit
Rental companies offer GPS devices for a daily fee, as well car seats, ski racks and other extras. To save money you can take your own.
Unfortunately, rental companies don’t always guarantee you’ll get the extra equipment you ask for, such as baby or child seats. So to avoid any last-minute crises, it can be worth taking your own. You’ll save a daily hire fee, and feel confident on quality. Plus, many airlines allow you to take two pieces of baby or child equipment for free. If you’re used to having a GPS/sat nav in your own car, but aren’t keen on paying a daily hire charge, you can use your smartphone. Just download the maps of where you’re going before you set off.
9) Don’t be shy
When you’re at the rental counter, don’t hold back from asking anything you’re not sure about. Make sure you’re clear on how to bring the car back, what the fuel policy is, whether there are any local tolls, and whether you’re being charged for anything else.
Then you’re all ready to set off and explore. Enjoy a wonderful trip!