Avoid rip-off car hire prices
Published: Thu, 25 Jul, 2013
Hire a car when you go only holiday and there are more catches than a corset - but Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis is here with his top five tips to help you unhook them with ease.
- Earlier booking usually saves
For a week in Spain for example, booking six months ahead can be half the cost of hiring there, while booking three months ahead can be 25% cheaper. So early wins. Even if you’re going away in a few days’ time, booking online before you go is still usually the cheaper way.
- Speedily find the cheapest prices with comparison sites
Kayak and Carrentals search the market at speed, with a range of options to let you hone in on the cheapest.
- Beware fuel policy stealth charges
A common car hire wheeze in Europe if you’re hiring for 3+ days, is to give you a full tank of fuel, which you must pay for upfront (can be £100+ in Europe), but you're told to return it empty. There's usually no refund for unused fuel.
If you won’t drive too far watch out for this, as the unused fuel can cost you more than the hire. If this'll hit you, obviously choosing a smaller car with a smaller tank will mitigate it somewhat, if not Auto Europe’s comparison lets you filter hires by fuel policy. So if the car hire that way isn’t too much more expensive, go for it.
- Cut child seat costs
Child seats are (rightly) compulsory in Europe for under-3s. But costing from £5/day, hiring them from car rental firms is expensive. Yet at Malaga airport, Tots Store is a stand-alone booth where seats can be rented at half the cost. Elsewhere you may be able to book to get someone to come and meet you with a cheaper seat too.
If these services aren’t available where you’re going, consider taking your own seat - though compare the cost of checking this in on the plane, to the cost of hiring.
- Beat the "excess insurance" scare trick
When you collect your car, hire firms often say: "Without our excess insurance, you'll pay huge for a scratch." This insurance can be £20/day, but if you want it, you can get it for a lot less. To compare standalone car hire excess policies, start with Moneymaxim. You can make big savings.
- Don’t pay for a sat nav if you’ve a smartphone
Download the Navfree app on iPhones and Androids and it has maps for thirty countries. Provided you do it before you go there will be no roaming charges. This way you turn your phone into a totally free sat nav.