Hiring a car whilst travelling is one of the best ways to explore a new country. Driving yourself around allows you to explore the region at your own pace and see hard-to-reach places that you’d otherwise miss when using public transport.
But, we all know that it can be frustrating and costly to deal with car hire companies. That’s why we’re giving you tried and tested tips on how to avoid getting ripped off when hiring a car in a foreign country.
- Book Early:
Don’t leave it until the last minute to hire a car. Instead, try and book early so you can take your time looking at different options. If you want to be even savvier about it, hire from a company that offers free cancellation so you can cancel afterward if you find a better deal without worrying about paying cancellation fees.
- Only buy the basic package:
Car hire companies will offer you all manner of different packages and “specials” when you call them because that’s how they make money. They’ll try to sell you on collision damage waiver or super excess cover that’s meant to cover the shortfall left behind by basic insurance.
If you want to save money, politely decline any add-ons they try to sell you on and stick to the basic package. Also, stay away from off-airport car hire companies because they don’t offer the same value and security of on-airport providers.
- Use comparison websites:
There are plenty of comparison websites out there that are designed to help you find the best deals. “The cheapest deals aren’t always the best so you should look at a number of factors when comparing different deals,” explains Joe from carhiremaltagroup.com. “For example, check the fuel policy because it differs from one provider to the next. They may give you the car with a full tank and tell you to return it empty, or they may give you a “full-to-full” policy that requires you to fill up on an as-needed basis.”
Also check for clauses that deal with unlimited mileage, young drivers, off-roading, as well as ferry and border crossings to find out what their policy is on these issues. Don’t take it for granted that these are included in your package as that may lead to accidentally breaking the terms of your contract.
- Bring your own satnav and child seats:
Rental companies also overcharge for small things like child seats and satnav. You can easily get around these extra costs by bringing your own equipment. In fact, many airlines now offer free child booster seats or you can hire them for a portion of the price you’d pay at a car hire company.
Likewise, bring the satnav you have at home and just load foreign maps of your destination. Or better yet, simply use your smartphone for navigation and avoid the hassle that comes with trying to figure out a new satnav.
Travellers now have access to apps like maps.me which provides you with an offline navigation solution that you can use anywhere in the world.
- Buy independent excess insurance
It’s also important that you organize your own independent insurance cover to avoid getting sucked into the hype of paying more than you need to for simple car hire. Basic insurance is often included in your car hire booking, but it comes with a large excess in the event of a claim.
Car hire companies use the exorbitant excess amount to scare you into buying extra insurance that will “protect” you from these extra charges. They often refer to this as “super theft waiver” or something like that, but it serves no other purpose than to make the car hire company more money.
Rather buy excess insurance from an independent insurance provider who will charge you a fraction of the price.
Some of the most highly recommended providers include Avis, Hertz, Europcar and Budget. They’re usually cheaper than the brokers and they’ll make life easier when you need to sort out any problems that may arise.
- Thoroughly check the vehicle
Before you drive the car out of the car hire company’s premises, do a thorough check of the exterior and the interior. Take before pictures of any damage that you notice and make sure they’re noted on your rental agreement so you won’t get scammed into paying for it later.