We’d all love to throw caution to the wind and spontaneously arrive at a foreign car hire company expecting to find a great deal, and a gorgeous car too! However most of the time this just isn’t the case. Forward-planning is the best way to avoid any nasty surprises when renting a car overseas – keep these tips top of mind BEFORE you travel.
Your age might mean you CAN’T get a hire car
If you’re under 25, don’t wait until you arrive in a foreign country to rent a car. Many car hire companies will only rent certain cars to under-25s, and some won’t rent them at all. It varies greatly depending on how long you have held your license and exactly what age you are. And age restrictions don’t just affect the young – many car companies won’t rent to over-65s either. Check policies beforehand to avoid disappointment.
Book your car hire as early as you can
The earlier you can book, the better. You’ll have more chance of finding a bargain and are less likely to incur last-minute costs. The worst idea? Just turning up at the car hire desk in the airport when you arrive. Airport desks are notoriously more expensive than non-airport branches, especially when you haven’t booked ahead.
Keep an eye on the excess
First of all, do you know what excess is? Every car insurance policy will have an excess. This is the initial amount not covered under the policy in the event of a claim, which you have to pay out. If the claim is your fault, you cannot reclaim your excess. Understand? Well, with any car rented overseas, there will be an excess you will have to pay should anything happen. Usually this is hidden in the small print, but can vary greatly, in some cases topping over £5,000! A gentle tip, check your excess before you sign anything, or you may end up with a hefty bill to pay in case of an incident.
Did you know Abbey offer an excess protect policy which means you pay a small premium to protect against paying out the policy excess? This won’t cover you abroad but it’s useful to have back home.
Fill up before return, or pay the penalty
Most car hire companies expect you to return the car with a full petrol tank – but don’t always make that clear. Then, when you return the car with a half or even empty tank, they charge you an extortionate mark-up for refilling the tank. Make sure you are aware of this beforehand, to avoid any mad dashes to petrol stations on your way back.
You’ll be charged for add-ons
Car seats, satnavs, sometimes even the radio – these are all hidden add-ons that car hire companies use to make you pay more. If you need to rent or borrow any of these important items, the company could charge you per day for their use, meaning you could rack up the pounds with ease. The solution? Take your car seat with you on the flight – many airlines offer this as free of charge baggage. And don’t forget your satnav. If you don’t have one, consider buying one at the airport before you go – even a new one can cost less than renting by the day.
Wednesday – Saturdays are the best days for picking up a hire car
Contrary to belief, picking up towards the end of the week is actually the least busy time for renting a car. Companies aren’t dealing with their regular business renters, and you’re more likely to get the car you actually want, rather than what’s available. You might think care hire companies only cater to holidaymakers, but their regular clientele is much more diverse than that.
And one last thing… don’t forget to take both parts of your driving license. Most rental companies require both the physical license and the paper counterpart to clear you to drive.
Abbey Insurance Brokers
If you’re heading abroad this year make sure you have travel insurance with Abbey! Trust your local expert.