How to avoid unnecessary car hire charges abroad

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Car hire companies are notoriously sneaky.  They entice you with cheap daily rental charges and then sting you with a load of overpriced extras.  If you’re unlucky, they slap extra charges on your credit card after you’ve returned the car without even letting you know.  Fortunately, there are a few measures you can take to avoid excessive charges and stop the car hire companies ripping you off.

Bring your Own

Lots of car hire companies charge silly money to rent you a child booster seat or satnav along with the car so it’s a good idea to bring these items with you.  Most charter airlines don’t charge you to take a booster seat on the plane and even when you do need to pay an extra fee with some of the budget airlines, it usually works out cheaper.

Full to Empty

How often has anyone managed to return a hire car with an almost empty fuel tank?  If you can avoid using a car hire company that has the policy of giving you the car with a full tank and saying you must bring it back empty, avoid them.  You pay far more for the fuel than you would have done at the pumps and usually end up not using it all.  Full to full policies are much better as you only pay for the fuel you use and pay a normal garage price.

Excessive Excesses

The insurance you can purchase to cover you if you have an accident in your hire car often comes with very high excesses.  Some are as high as £1,500 which means that most minor damage isn’t covered at all so you can end up with a hefty bill.  Lots of car hire companies offer extra insurance to cover the excess but at hugely overinflated prices.  You can buy this type of cover separately from specialised provider and it can work out much cheaper.

Read the Small Print

No one reads the contracts before they sign them but they really should.  This is where some car hire companies like to hide information about extra charges you might otherwise be unaware of such as mileage restrictions.

Take Pictures

Inspect the car thoroughly before you drive off in it and make sure any scratches or dents are listed on the contract.  Take pictures of all the sides of the car and check in the boot to make sure the jack, spare wheel, etc. are all there so you don’t get charged for losing them later.  When you drop the car back, take pictures of it again so they can’t ‘suddenly find’ some damage you weren’t responsible for.

Go Local

If you are paying for the car when you collect it, be sure to pay in the local currency.  Some firms rip people off by getting them to pay in Sterling with a very poor exchange rate so you end up paying over the odds.

Plan Ahead

The further in advance you book your car hire, the greater the chance will be of getting the best deal.

Overall, the advice for not getting ripped off by car hire companies is to check everything and check it again, don’t be afraid to shop around and be sure to compare the hire terms as well as the price.  For peace of mind and good value for money separate from your car hire, get a quote for travel insurance from ERV by clicking here.


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