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 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 you could save 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 usually 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, it may be worth steering clear of a prepaid option though, as you may miss out on potential discounts down the line.
2. Consider 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. It's likely they will charge you far more than a petrol station for the fuel, and you may not even use all of it. There may even be admin fees, so it’s well worth spending some time locating the nearest petrol station to your drop-off point and exploring other fuel options.
3. Don’t Accept Their Extras
When picking up your hire car, you may be pressured into buying a child seat, GPS system, mobile wi-fi or other types of extras. These often come at extortionate prices, even when there’s not always a need for them. For example, most airlines will allow you to take a child car seat as a checked piece of baggage free of charge. There are also several reputable and more importantly, free GPS apps that can operate without using data. So make sure to download one before you travel (and avoid having to spend anywhere up to £15 per day for one!). Paying for mobile wi-fi is rarely worthwhile, especially in light of new EU legislation, which ended data roaming charges last year - meaning you can lean on your standard 4G allowance whilst on holiday.
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. It's always worth asking for an upgrade. Ask for a free one, then if that isn’t available, find out how much the cheapest upgrade is. If it is a busy period for them then they may be 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. Remember, car hire companies will often do their utmost to persuade you to take out their excess waiver. It’s often paid for by the day and can be as much as £20 per day. Taking out a standalone excess insurance policy usually works out much cheaper. For instance, taking out our annual cover will set you back just £45.39, whilst 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 (running for a limited time only!).