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How to avoid expensive holiday car hire costs
Thinking of hiring a car when you go on holiday this summer? You’ll probably already be aware of how expensive this can be but how do you make sure you are paying the right amount for your car hire? According to research from iCarhireinsurance, there are many variations across the world with Florida found to be the cheapest place to hire a car and Greece and Portugal the most expensive.
Prices are inflated when add-ons are accepted and those that are offered as part of a car hire arrangement include everything from satnav’s to child seats. These add-ons can accumulate quite quickly and can end up becoming a significant cost that in many cases can be completely avoided.
The study into car hire costs found the average basic cost of car hire was £301 but with various extras added on that number ended up around the £626 mark. While some countries car hire costs were affordable, others were on the expensive side and within a specific country the costs of car hire can vary widely from meaning you could end up paying double what another company in the same country is charging.
So how exactly can you save money on your holiday car hire costs? Here are some tips:
- Don’t get a satnav – Adding a satnav to your car hire agreement can add up to £72 a week onto your agreement. If you need to use a map whilst on holiday, there are apps available which allow you to access offline maps on your phone for over 110 countries.
- Take your own child/booster seats – On average the typical cost of a booster seat is £51 although the prices can be significantly higher or lower dependent on the country you are in and the company you are using. You can pre-book your own booster seats onto your flight but costs vary between airlines with some even offering the service for free.
- Only add one driver to the car hire – The more drivers you add, the more it will cost you so if you can manage with just one driver then you could end up saving yourself around £50.
- Opt for the basic package – Avoid expensive add-ons such as excess insurance; most car hire packages include insurance which covers major crashes and write-off’s and you are only responsible for the excess. Car hire companies often try to persuade you to buy insurance which brings the excess to zero but this comes at a significant cost. If you are worried, you can buy an independent annual policy before you travel which covers driving in Europe and you can pay per day or for the year.
- Book early – The earlier you book, the better as the cheapest deals get snapped up quickly particularly in peak holiday season. There are many car hire comparison websites you can make use of to find the best deals. New rules mean that these sites have to be transparent about the full cost of hiring before you buy.
- Before you drive off, check the car – Make note of every mark, scratch or blemish, check the spare wheel, the mileage and the amount of fuel in the car and mention them all to the hire company. Both parties should sign all documents, including pre- and post-inspection papers, to cover yourself and them just in case. As many people get hit with expensive charges for damage once they are back home being overly cautious is your best bet to protect against this sort of thing.
- Once home, keep the paperwork – Even if everything is fine when you hand the car back, it is worth keeping hold of the paperwork and keeping an eye on your bank accounts for any unauthorised charges.
If you have any issues or complaints with your holiday car hire, try to resolve it with your hire company. If you have tried this with no success, you can escalate your complaint to European Car Rental Concillation Services or get in touch with Which? to find out your rights.