Friday 7 July 2017

Finance Fridays – Car hire charges

We were jetting off for last week's Finance Fridays and talking about airport charges. We're still thinking about trips this week and looking at car hire. Prices can vary a lot and there are plenty of extra charges you could fall foul of. Let's have a look at some of things you need to be aware of when hiring a car.

Book early – Usually the earlier you book the cheaper it will be. Car hire companies put the prices up the closer to the date. Don't wait until the day before or when you get to your destination to book. If you are worried about the price dropping then look for companies offering free cancellation.

Shop around – Don't just check the national firms but see what prices the local businesses are offering as well.

Insurance excess – One of the biggest worries when hiring a car is doing damage to it. This doesn't even mean being in an accident just simply scratches and dents that happen when other people walk past or open their car doors onto yours. When hiring a car the insurance is known as Collision Damage Waiver (CDW). As with standard car insurance they come with an excess which can be excessively high! This means a tiny dint on the car could easily cost upwards of £250. Car hire companies will be wanting to push their own excess insurance but you can buy standalone policies. If you do buy a standalone policy be prepared for the car hire company to still take a large deposit from you on your credit card. If they do make a claim against you and take some or all of the deposit you will then need to claim this back from your own insurance policy.

Check the fuel policy – This is where many people can be caught out. Some companies will hand over the car to you with barely in fuel in it but expect you to bring it back with a full tank. Depending on the size of the tank this could easily cost you another £50-80 to fill up. If you don't bring the car back with a full tank you could be landed with a nasty excess charge.

Check the fuel type – Don't assume it will be a petrol car and also if you drive a diesel remember to petrol in it!

Child car seats – Check what the car hire company is charging and find out what it costs to hire them separately. If you are picking up a car at the airport there are often separate companies who hire out children's car seats.

Check the car thoroughly before you drive off – This means both inside and out. Look for any obviously marks or dents however big or small. If you spot anything go back and log it. Also make sure that if it says it should have items such as a first aid kit, spare tyre, warning triangle and hi-viz vest they are in the car. In some countries it a legal requirement to carry certain items in your car at all times. If you are stopped by the police and found to be without them you could be served with a hefty on the spot fine.

Clean it – Before you return it make sure it is clean. Sand in the boot and muddy footprints on the car mats could mean you are landed with a valeting bill when you bring it back. If you don't have access to an vacuum cleaner find a valeting company as what they will charge will probably be cheaper than the charge made by the hire company.

Snap it – Get your phone out and take photographs of the car before you drive off and when you deliver back to the car lot. Pay particular attention to wheels and any hub caps or alloys, rear and front bumpers, doors and wing mirrors. Mention when you take it back you have photographs of the car – you don't want to be charged for any damage you are not responsible for.

Upgrades – One trick some car hire companies like to pull is to try and convince you that the car you have booked in advance is too small for your luggage – they probably haven't even seen your luggage! Don't be swayed by them trying to charge you more then and there. You should also never be charged more if you have booked a certain car and when you turn up they haven't got any to supply to you. You should get a free upgrade in this instance and certainly not a downgrade!

Do you really need car hire? - If you're travelling around or staying somewhere remote then the answer is probably yes. For city breaks or holidays to big resorts you may find that the local public transport system will be sufficient for your needs. Also look up the reviews on the local taxi service.

Do you book car hire when you travel? Have you ever been caught out by extra charges?

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  1. There's certainly a lot to think about but sure worth shopping around for the best deals

  2. Some really great advice there. I must admit that the cost always puts me off but it probably is worth shopping around as the big name companies are so expensive.

  3. Great post - definitely worth shopping around. When we hire a car we always by the yearly car excess insurance to cover us as its much cheaper than directly with the hire company. x

  4. We have booked lots of hire cars while travelling and always found it a relatively simple process, I think the biggest thing for us is paying for extras before hand and them not being added when you get there so always make sure you take proof of all things purchased - it can be especially tricky when you don't speak the same language to iron out any issues x

  5. This is such great advice. I have always worried about hiring a car, but it would be useful sometimes, so I might come back to this!

  6. It always surprises me how expensive car hire is. I will be saving these tips, thanks


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