8 hire car tips you need to know to get the best deal and avoid extra charges for holiday rentals

Excited to go on a holiday but apprehensive about paying too much for your rental car? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Below are some tips on how you can get the best deal and avoid extra charges on your holiday car hire.

Save money on your excess insurance

If something happens to the car you rented while it is in your possession, you will be charged an ‘excess’. This amount can get exorbitant if you’re unfortunate enough to incur damage to the car, and the unplanned expense can ruin the fun you’re having while holidaying, especially if you’re in a foreign country.

Car rental companies sell excess insurance, which can lower or remove the excess in case of an incident. However, the car hire excess insurance sold by these companies tend to be expensive while a similar (or even better) insurance policy from a third-party vendor is usually only a fraction of the cost, saving you hundreds of dollars or euros.

It is thus recommended that you research excess insurance sellers before your trip and buy a policy that offers the best price and coverage.

Skip the Sat Nav for rent

Navigating in an unfamiliar place is tricky, so having a SatNav system is important. However, renting one from the car rental company will cost you extra every day.

To limit costs, you can just use Google Maps on your smartphone, other free apps such as Waze and HERE WeGo, or a traditional paper map. To avoid roaming charges and the signal getting cut off, you can download or take screenshots of the maps before the trip so you can use them offline later on.

Bring your own child car seats and booster seats

When traveling with children, bring your own child car seats and booster seats instead of renting from the car rental company.

Choose a “Full to Full” Fuel Policy

Choose a rental company that has a “full to full” fuel policy. With this, the rental car comes with a full tank and you have to return the vehicle with the tank topped up. In contrast, with a “full to empty” policy, you often end up paying the rental firm a premium price for the fuel.

Check the driver policy

Having multiple drivers for the rental car could cost you extra for each additional driver, so stick to having just one. If multiple drivers are a must, such as in long road trips, keep the additional charge in mind when comparing rental companies. If the driver is below 25, also check if the car hire company has a young driver surcharge.

Inspect the rental car meticulously

Avoid paying for damages you did not cause by thoroughly inspecting the hire car before leaving the rental office. Check all dents, scratches, and other issues against the list provided by the company. If you see any blemish that is not on the list, inform the staff right away and have it added to the list and the list signed by the personnel.

Check the exterior and the interior of the vehicle, as well as the spare tire, the fuel level, and the mileage. Also take pictures or videos of the car’s existing damages as documentation. These will serve as evidence in case the company later charges you for damages that were already there even before you drove away with the vehicle.

Beware of the one-way surcharge

Some rental companies do not charge a fee if you pick up the rental car at one location and drop it off at another one, but many do. Some companies that charge it are transparent about it, while some bury it in the fine print, so to avoid this surcharge, either return the car to where you collected it or make sure that the rental company does not charge this fee.

Return the car on time

Some companies charge a late return fee — even charge an extra day — if the car is returned later than the deadline specified in your rental contract, so make sure to return the vehicle on time.

The bottom line

Renting a car allows for a more convenient and flexible travel when on a holiday. With a bit of preparation, you can enjoy the time with your loved ones while keeping the rental cost to a minimum.