Five car hire tips for holidays abroad

Hiring a car abroad gives you the opportunity to explore off the beaten track and to get a mone genuine cultural experience away from tourist hotspots. Here, travel comparison website Compare and Choose share their top five tips for foreign car hire.

Research your destination

Before you even think about hiring a car abroad, you need to do your research. Find out about the local transport links first, do you really need a car to get around?

If the answer is yes, then you’ll want to make sure you’re familiar with the rules of the road and whether you need an international driving permit (these can take up to 6 weeks to process, so you’ll need to plan in advance). Making yourself aware of these factors early is key to avoiding any unnecessary hassle.

Next up, you’ll want to start reviewing your car hire options, look at price comparison websites to get a good overview of the market, and be sure to read the fine print. Sometimes you can save money on a cheap deal, but the extra ‘compulsory charges’ can quickly add up! 

Get insurance from the right places

Avoid purchasing collision damage waiver (CDW) insurance from the car hire company. Whilst your initial car rental fee will cover your general insurance, in the unfortunate event of an extreme crash, or write-off, there is often a £500 – £1000 excess charge, leaving you out of pocket.

CDW insurance illuminates this risk, as this extra insurance policy covers any excess charges. When booking through the car hire company this can cost hundreds of pounds each week, whereas you can get annual cover for as little as £50 a year from independent companies, who usually have more comprehensive cover

Generally, theft cover is not included in the standard insurance package, you will need to decide whether to add this on, which will cost extra. 

Choose the most reliable company you can find

Your best bet is to choose a reputable car hire company: whilst the initial cost may be higher, they are less likely to have extra fees down the line. Follow this checklist to ensure you don’t get caught out, or ripped off:  

  • Read the car hire company reviews and go through the T&C’s with a fine-tooth comb, before signing any agreements/ contracts.
  • Make sure you are aware of any extra charges that may incur at checkout/ when collecting your vehicle.
  • Ensure you are fully aware of the insurance policy, what’s included, and what excess charges may incur. Determine whether you need to take extra precautions.
  • Make sure you are aware of the fuel policy, full – full is usually recommended and will avoid excess charges.
  • Make yourself aware of the mileage policy – some companies may charge extra for additional miles.

Think harder about the services you choose

Book early, especially if you’re renting during peak times (July/ August). You can secure a much better deal by booking in advance – these car hire companies can smell last minute desperation!

Use a reputable comparison site, like compare and choose, to make sure you get the best deals, and flirt with various options – don’t be fooled by the cheapest first offer, check for add on fees.

Choose an economic vehicle, save money on fuel. It’s recommended to opt for the full-full policy: this basically means that the car has a full tank upon collection, and you return it with a full tank. Returning the car with less fuel than it started with is a sure-fire way to get some extra charges, trust us the cost to fill the tank is a lot less costly! 

Know what you’re dealing with

Make sure you fully inspect the car upon collection and photograph any damages. Adding charges for scrapes that probably weren’t you is the oldest trick in the book.

Don’t drive like an idiot – it’s not worth the risk. Abide by the countries rules, as speeding tickets and parking fines etc. will find their way back to you – plus you’ll also probably have to pay an extra admin fee to the car hire company for processing your fine! 

Portugal and Greece are renowned for having corrupt policing when it comes to driving. On-the-spot fines, licence plate and driving license confiscation are common for tourists.