With the summer holidays creeping up, Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis is here with his cheap holiday car hire tricks, as well as warning us to take a European Health Insurance Card away with us.
Cut the cost of car hire abroad
Trick 1: Book ahead
Early booking usually wins. One person told me: "Booked 4 months ahead, got 10 days for £296 for a decent-sized car. Just before I went, checked and the price had gone to £900! Glad I booked early."
Trick 2: Speedily find the cheapest with comparison sites
Comparison sites including Kayak, and Carrentals find the cheapest and drill down options eg, automatic car, air conditioning etc. Try more than one site if possible.
Trick 3: Check stealth fuel charges
Hire for 3+ days, and some firms make you pay for a full tank and "return it empty". If you don't drive far, the unused fuel can cost more than the hire. To avoid this, sites including AutoEuropelet you filter by fuel policy, while Enjoy Car Hire only shows 'pay for what you use' policies.
Trick 4: Beat insurance scare trick
While insurance is included, as you collect a car, firms often say "without our excess insurance, you'd pay £100s for a scratch." This can be £20+/day, but you can buy it separately for as little as £2/day. Use Moneymaxim's comparison to find the cheapest. Be aware that car hire firms may then however ask for a £500 deposit instead.
Trick 5: Free overseas smartphone SatNav
Hire firms often charge £50+/week to hire a sat nav. Yet the Navfree android/iphone app has maps for 50 countries, just download before you go to avoid data roaming charges.
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) entitles you to treatment by state hospitals and GPs in the EU, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Many wrongly assume this means free treatment. In fact, you pay what the natives pay. So if it’s free for them, it’s free for you, if they pay, you pay.
But there are four golden rules here:
Check the date is valid – over 4 million cards expire this year.
Every member of your family, including children, need their own card.
You need to carry it WITH YOU to be valid, don’t leave at home or in your hotel room.
This card is FREE, you should never pay for it. Beware shyster sites that charge or offer you a ‘fast-track’ service, it’s nonsense. Just go to the NHS’s website and get it there.