Brits are being asked to fork out an extra £475m on car hire every year. Do you know the hidden costs of car hire and how to avoid them? Clever travellers know how to avoid these hidden nasties and avoid paying over the odds for a rental. So when you’ve nailed that great car hire deal, here’s what to look for in the small print so you don’t end up with an unexpected bill.
Collect full, return empty
Sounds great doesn’t it? But these fuel charges can almost triple your car hire bill because the rental company charge far more for their fuel than the local garage. It’s also incredibly difficult to gauge your mileage. So you get the optimum benefit from that ‘free’ tank of fuel, and every drop you leave in the tank is a big fat profit for the car hire company because you won’t get any kind of refund.
You’re better to look for a full out, full back policy with no upfront fuel charge. Otherwise look for a car hire policy that offers an unused fuel refund.
The excess insurance rip off
Hire car insurance policies come with a big excess of anywhere up to £2,000. You may have been pressured to buy car hire excess insurance at the rental desk but you’ll pay way over the odds for a policy that should cost you just a few pounds a day.
To avoid getting ripped off, search for car hire excess insurance from a specialist website like Excess Buddy. You’ll get the best deals and avoid the hassle at the rental desk plus you’ll enjoy higher levels of cover. You can buy a single trip or an annual policy to bring down the costs even further.
Make sure you have a credit card with sufficient credit if you do buy your own policy. Your car hire company are likely to charge you the excess anyway before reimbursing you.
Big prices for small dents
We’ve all heard horror stories about the little dent that turned into a few hundred pounds on your credit card.
Before you drive away, make sure you video a detailed record of every inch of the vehicle on your phone. Don’t drive away without signing off on pre-existing damage to the vehicle and get a company rep to check the car with you when you return it. That way if an unscrupulous company charges you for a mystery prang, you’ll have the evidence to contest the charge.
Don’t fall for unnecessary extras
Think twice about adding another driver as this is a favourite way for car hire companies to inflate your bill. It’s not worth adding any driver under 25 and if you only intend the use the car for short trips it may be better not to add an extra driver at all.
There are all kinds of additional extras that sound great but can quickly push up the price of your rental. So think twice about paying extra for roadside assistance which should already be provided and look out for valeting charges that can add up to £50 to your bill – carry a rubbish bag at all times and make sure you clean up before you drop off.
Even though most modern cars come with built in sat nav, this is very much an optional extra on a hire car. Don’t pay through the nose for extras like sat nav and child seats. Bring your own and you can save hundreds of pounds on your bill and many airlines will charge less to carry a car seat than you’ll pay to hire one.
Make sure you have a navigational app on your phone and a good data roaming package, or even go old school with maps of the area. You might find you have navigational skills you never knew you had!