More and more people are hiring rental cars when they venture away on their holidays. It allows them the freedom to explore in their own time and in their own way; there is no need to be trapped in a bus with no air-conditioning or rush around seeing everything you want to see in the set time you have been given. Even though there are endless pros to hiring a rental car while you’re abroad, it also comes with its cons if you aren’t aware of the pitfalls, so here is a helpful guide to ensure that you are aware of every aspect of the car rental process.
If renting a car is on your holiday to-do list, don’t leave it until the last minute. Booking in advance allows you to research the terms and conditions of the rental companies and compare optional or fixed extras and total costs, this will allow you to get the best deal that suits your needs at the best price. It will also allow you to enquire and find the relevant documents needed to acquire your rental; this includes a credit card with sufficient funds available and a drivers licence that has been valid for at least a year.
This simple checklist highlights the essential points to follow when hiring a car; checking these will ensure that the hiring process is easy and stress free:-
Contract: Check every aspect of the contract before signing it. Look for hidden charges and age restrictions, scrutinise the terms and conditions and ask as many questions as possible, especially if there is something that you don’t understand. Ask for written copies and for the contract to be in your native language.
Insurance: Check the insurance and what it really covers; you may find that there are certain things that will only be covered for an extra charge. Make sure that your insurance covers theft, if it doesn’t it is most definitely worth the small charge to make sure you are covered.
Before and After pictures: Even though this will take time, it could also save you money. If there are defects on the car that aren’t accounted for then you will face the charge. Make sure all marks and damage is noted and signed off by the company, take your own photographs before you drive away and after you have taken it back. Being scrupulous will stop you paying unnecessary costs.
Safety: The first thing to do when considering the safety equipment in a car is to familiarise yourself with the local rules. Checking the safety equipment in the car is essential when hiring a rental because if the equipment doesn’t comply with the law, you will be held liable, whether that means paying a hefty fine or going to court. Items such as a reflective jacket or first aid kit may be compulsory so a simple check while you are at the rental company can get the items replaced if missing.
Fuel: The fuel could potentially be the most expensive part of hiring a car because different rental companies have different requirements. Some companies prefer to use the “drive away full, return it full” method which works out to be a cheaper option for you. Ask where the nearest petrol station is so you can fill the tank before you return the car. Another method that is used by rental companies is taking a rental car and buying a full tank and returning it empty. This may seem like a good option but it will cost you more as you won’t get any money back for any unused fuel and you will pay more than if you went to a petrol station. Before signing a contract, enquire what the company’s regulations are in regards to topping up the fuel tank.
The ECRCS has got you covered
The European Car Rental Conciliation Service has been set up to assist with any unresolved complaints in regards to cross border rentals; this means that they specifically deal with issues that arise from rentals that have been used in a different country to the booking within Europe. If you have booked direct with the company and they are a member of ECRCS, they will be able to help with refunds for erroneous charges. So keep a note of original charges, extra fees, any receipts and credit card bills in the event that they are needed as evidence.
With these tips, renting a car in a foreign country should be a simple process. Always be aware of the company and the conditions it has and by following the checklist, it will ensure that you receive no hidden charges. So plan, book, check, sign, explore and, finally, enjoy your holiday.