The world of car rental firms is marvelous.
Yes, it is! But there are several things to know, as well.
Car rental has been democratized. Same as travelling, taking a plane or staying at a hotel… So it was natural that the car rental market would also open up.
There are more and more broker (or aggregator) websites by means of which one can now rent a car at really bargain prices. Some travel comparison websites even compare the broker (aggregator) websites in question.
As I often hire a car when travelling and since I usually read the general terms and conditions of sale nearly in full (it is not very fun, I’ll give you that…), I thought I could talk to you about this and share my experience with you.
The marvellous world of car rental firms
It is great having a car while on a trip to explore the surrounding area and be independent. Especially so with kids.
Besides, it is not very expensive and as a function of the destination and the dates, one can find some pretty good deals.
It is enough to have:
- A driving license (if you have a European one, you can easily rent a car in any European country),
- A credit card – and you are ready to go!
If, moreover, you are older than 21 (on average) and younger than 75 years of age, you are the king of car rental. The supply is abundant, and the sites – well, there are plenty of them!
The marvellous world of car rental firms – the practical side
Even in the best of all worlds, there exists a practical aspect, sorry to bother you with this. So, just before you throw yourself into choosing a car with which you will explore the area of your next holidays, take your time to study closely the “how it works” aspect.
A number of warnings:
1/ It would make better sense to go for the options of paying on location and free cancellation if, of course, you have the choice.
Two very simple reasons for this:
- anything can happen and it is better (this is a very personal tip dictated by experience);
- even if you get there, it may happen that the card “does not work” at the agency. Or the card does not have the exact surname and name of the driver (above all in case of a joint account). Or crossing the border (if planned) is not authorized or too costly, etc.
2/ Carefully read the terms and conditions and especially the restrictions.
In the case of doubt, you had better contact the car rental. The restrictions may concern the crossing of borders, taking the ferry, going to islands etc.
It has already happened to me: crossing the border authorized without a supplement (confirmed by the broker on the phone). On location, the rental agency demands a supplement that considerably changes the rental cost. The agent counters my protestations: “But this is noted on our own site and we are not responsible for the broker.” So there! :/
3/ Find out the related costs.
Additional driver, fuel, mileage, baby/child seat, winter tyres. In certain regions in Europe such as Austria, Northern Italy, Germany, to name a few, the winter tyres are compulsory in winter. And one risks paying stiff fines if the cars offered for hire are not always equipped with them.
4/ Carefully read the amount of the deductible.
Read the amount exact of the deductble. Ask your bank if it would be a problem.
5/ Pay attention to the credit card used as guarantee.
Nearly all car rentals require that the surnames and first names of the driver are on the card that is used as guarantee (be careful with corporate cards or a joint account). Also, not all cards are accepted so it makes sense to check that beforehand to avoid ruining your holidays.
6/ Customer service
If you can choose among several intermediary sites, go for the ones that have customer service or somebody who speaks a language(s) that you speak. If anything unforeseen happens (delay, assistance, etc), this is always better.
7/ Driving licence
You go to a non-European or if your driving licence is not written with Latin letters (or there is no transcription)? It is better to find out how to get an international driving licence because it is highly likely that you will be asked to provide it.
I do not doubt for a minute that all will go well for you and wish you an excellent trip! 🙂