By Dom at Reduce My Excess,
Last updated: 13 December 2018
Car hire. Two simple, fairly innocuous words seem to cause so much hassle and trepidation amongst the UK public, and from what we hear, with good reason.
Last year it was found out that UK holidaymakers pay an average of £116 in additional fees for every car they rent, that’s an awful lot of money per customer.
So, we’ve put together six great ways to save you money (and stress) when you have to attempt the dreaded task:
1. Book as Early as You Can
This may sound obvious but booking your rental car as early as possible is the best way to avoid unpleasant and surprising last-minute price hikes. Much like train tickets, the general rule of thumb is, the sooner you can book, the cheaper it will cost. Conversely, never select a prepaid option though, as you may miss out on potential discounts down the line.
2. Take the Full-to-Full Tank Option
Car hire companies often try to make you take the full-to-empty option by suggesting it’s a hassle finding a petrol station close by before you return your car; this is rarely the case. You’ll also be charged far more than the cost of filling the tank up, there can even be admin fees sometimes, so it’s well worth spending some time locating the nearest petrol station to your drop-off point.
3. Don’t Accept Their Extras
If you have a child or admit to not knowing the area you’re travelling through, you may be pressured into buying a child seat and/or a GPS system. These come at extortionate prices when there’s really no need to pay for them. Most airlines will allow you to take a child car seat as a checked piece of baggage, even if you can’t take one, going out a buying one from a nearby store works out much cheaper. A quick phone call to your airline will soon clear up how best to manage this. There are also several, very reputable and more importantly, free GPS apps that can operate without using data. So make sure to download one before to travel to avoid having to spend up to £15 per day for one.
4. Ask for Upgrades at the Desk
It won’t come as a surprise to you when I say that rental companies have busy periods. During these times the cars that they want to give you (i.e. the cheapest cars) may not be available. Always ask for an upgrade. Ask for a free one, then if that isn’t available, ask how much the cheapest upgrade is. If it is a busy period for them then they’re certainly more inclined to give you a premium car, so that they don’t use up all of their cheaper, more popular models. Never be afraid to haggle with them.
5. Pay With a Credit Card
Using a credit card to pay for the car hire will allow you extra protection under what’s called ‘Section 75’ of the Consumer Credit Act. Essentially, this means that if anything were to go wrong, the credit card and the car hire company are equally liable for any breach of contract or misrepresentation.
This is the big one. If you take nothing else away from this list, make sure you remember this point:
Car hire companies are desperate for you to take out their insurance.
It’s often paid for by the day and can be as much as £20 per day. Taking out our annual cover will cost you just £45.39, you can also get daily cover from as little as £2.69. We’ve even got some nifty little discount codes that you can add too. Just click here for 15% off.