Tips & Tricks for Saving Big on Car Rentals
Car rental rates are rather like hotel room rack rates – they change daily and according to demand. So the issue here is do you book in advance and lock in the rate, or leave it and walk up to the counter on the arrival at the airport after you land?
There’s a chance that the car size you want at the desk, has already sold out. This means instead of the cheaper, 2 door economy vehicle, the only ones available are the next level up. Yeah, you’ve got it, this means the next price break up too. Now as much as this hits you in the gut as well as the wallet, the argument is that had you pre-booked……..
Supply and demand is the key. Peak holiday times will see prices rise and availability drop. All the school holiday periods where families are going abroad, not all go on package holidays. Book as soon as you can, once you have your travel dates sorted.
Forget The Extras
The option to go with a Sat Nav is very tempting. Especially if you’re in a country or region you’ve never been to before. Sure the sales team will suggest this but check the cost. We’ve seen instances where the hire cost over a 2week period is actually more than the cost to buy one of these items. We once went to America and ordered a Sat Nav online for delivery to the hotel. As we had the car booked for a road trip and as we were getting the rental car from close the hotel, we got an Uber ride to the rental place and picked the car there. Needless to say the guy on the desk, suggested we might need navigation assistance. We declined.
Another option is to use your smartphone. Google maps often covers where you need to go and is ideal for most users. Provided you have a signal to your phone to plan the route, you can save it and use this option.
One extra if you are travelling with a baby/toddler, you might not be able to avoid is a car seat.
Petrol or diesel. The cost of your road trip could be more than you think, if you don’t consider the fuel type of the vehicle you are hiring.
Full To Full, Same To Same or Full To Empty. Check out which variety the company offers.
The full-empty policy, which basically requires you to pay upfront for a tank of fuel and can return it empty. Sounds easy to follow.
Advantage; You’re not running around like a headless chicken trying to find a petrol station as close as possible to the rental depot, to ensure the tank is full.
Disadvantage; You are paying in advance for a full tank of fuel, but might only use half a tank. This means on a £60 payment, you’ve used roughly £30. Another thing to watch here is the fuel price. Maybe they are charging more than a local service station?
Full To Full is a better option, as you’re only paying for the fuel you have used. Drive 100 miles and you replace the fuel you have used. Drive an extra 1000 miles, same applies.
Advantage; You aren’t paying for fuel you have not used. It’s a straight forward option. You have the choice of where you refuel, so you aren’t tied to a set price.
Disadvantage; You need to find a garage quite close to the drop off point when returning the car. If you’re pushed for time, this is a hindrance trying to find a service station.
We suggest you find and make a note of a couple of close by places to refuel, for the return leg of the trip. Keep these stored in your satnav.
Insurance And Excess
Rental cars come with insurance, but this is the most basic, legal requirement. As an example many don’t cover you for chips/cracks in the windscreen. So the car that throws up a tiny stone, that hits your windscreen, could end up costing you an extra £150 for the repair. Easy solution is the additional insurance, the sales person will offer you. The excess here could still be very high, often costing more than the actual vehicle hire.
Consider your own car hire excess insurance, taken out before you book your car hire. There’s no need to tell the rental people you have this, just decline their upsell.
Please do take times to read the T&Cs of the rental company. Yes you will have their basic Collision Damage Waiver insurance, but pay particular attention to the excess figures. The last thing you want is to have a bump or pick up damage and find the actual excess is several thousand pounds / euros / dollars which comes straight off your credit card.