We’ve prepared these hire car tips after research found drivers planning to rent a car this summer are likely to face a disappointing experience. Almost one in 10 travellers have arrived to collect their hire car only to find that none are available. One in five have had to queue for more than half an hour at the rental company desk. And nearly one in five said they found the process of collecting a hire car a stressful experience.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Almost a third of drivers were unexpectedly given a better car than they expected. The findings are the results of a YouGov survey. It discovered that nearly one in five (19 per cent) were shocked at the price of extras such as insuring a second driver or borrowing a child’s car seat.
The car hire insurance company that commissioned the study warned drivers that the easiest way to take the stress out of hiring a car was to take care over the initial booking. Ernesto Suarez, CEO of iCarhireinsurance.com said: “Some simple planning in advance of travelling to make sure you avoid extra costs at the rental desk, particularly the expensive excess waiver policies that rental companies sell, can make the whole process plain sailing, as well as saving travellers a small fortune.”
There was also a warning of hidden costs. Suarez added: “When hiring a car, the headline price is often not the price you actually end up paying, and frequently the prices for extras are not available until drivers reach the rental desk.”
Hire car tips : Six ways to save on car rental
Book early To guarantee a good price you need to book months rather than weeks in advance. According to iCarhireinsurance.com, holidaymakers who booked their car in February saved on average of £100 compared to those who waited until June.
Size matters When you book your hire car, make sure you get one that is going to fit your family and its luggage. Upgrading once you’re at the hire car desk can prove expensive.
Sharing costs If you can get away with just having one driver, it’ll save you money. If the journey to your hotel is a relatively short one and you’re expecting the main driver to do nearly all the motoring, it may not be cost-effective to insure a second driver.
Take your own sat nav Hiring a sat nav from a car rental company can be expensive, costing more than £80 for a week. It’s much cheaper to either upgrade your existing portable sat nav to European mapping and take that, or get a European sat nav app for your smart phone.
Bring a child seat Many airlines will let you check a child’s car seat into the hold for free. Or for slightly older kids what about investigating an inflatable booster cushion? Doing either could stop you paying up to £70 a week to hire one from a car rental company.
Always check for damage When you pick the car up and drop it off, it’s worthwhile taking photographs of it with your mobile phone. It’s not unheard of for car hire companies to loan out damaged cars, then charge for damage customers didn’t cause. Equally, they have been known to penalise renters for damage caused by employees after the car has been returned.