For a lot of people, summer is the best season to go on a holiday trip. If you’re planning to go abroad, you may be thinking of getting a rental car to add more convenience and flexibility to your trip. This isn’t a bad idea at all, but there are several things that you need to consider prior to making your booking on any car hire company. Remember that getting a car for hire abroad can be a bit more complicated as compared to renting a car for local travel, especially in terms of international driving permits and liability insurance.
As per Bob Atkinson, Travel Expert at TravelSupermarket, “Hiring a car abroad can be a great asset to your trip, however, consumers should take real care when making a booking.”
To ensure you won’t get ripped-off, here’s a list of important things that you have to keep in mind:
- Do your research first about the different car hire companies available in your chosen destination as rates may vary greatly from city to city. Make sure to check out several options to get a clearer comparison of their fees and services. This way, you can really get the best deal. Remember — “Collect and collect then select”.
- Be aware how car hire excess waiver insurance works and how much it generally costs to avoid buying an expensive collision-damage waiver. This is an important add-on as it can save you money if ever you’ll get into an accident and you’ll damage your rental car. However, while having this serves as your protection as it covers your liability for any damages on your rental car, it’s also a fact that some rental companies take advantage of its real cost.
- Once you are done doing your research and you’ve finally selected a car hire company you’d like to deal with, make a booking in advance. Remember that the car rental rates are almost always way higher at the counter as compared to online/phone booking.
- Be careful about the car rental “hidden costs”. Make sure to check exactly what is included in the initial car hire price you are quoted as this may not yet be the final price you’re going to pay. Sarah Schlichter shared her personal experience in an article she posted: “On a trip to Italy a few years back, I rented a car with a base rate of about $110 for three days. The final total? Including insurance, mandatory theft protection, a 20 percent tax, an underage driver fee, a surcharge for not filling the gas tank, and a few other “mystery” charges written on our bill in illegible Italian, I paid about $380 — more than a 200 percent increase over the base rate. Ouch.”
- Do not hesitate to ask questions if there are things you don’t understand. Make it a rule not to sign anything if there are still vague details about the policies/costs. Be familiar with the company’s policies when it comes to licensing charges, airport charges, sales taxes, 24-hour clock rate, and early return fees.
- Inspect your rental car as soon as it is handed over to you. If you see dents, scratches, or any problems, please make sure they are indicated in your contract for your own protection. You don’t want to end up getting extra charges for whatever damages you aren’t responsible for.
- Know before you go. Prior to driving your rental car, make sure you’ve already done your research about the “road rules” of the places you’ll be visiting. Familiarize yourself with specific details (which side of the road to drive on, who has the right of way, etc.). You can get this type of information through an up-to-date guidebook or the country’s embassy.
- Don’t forget to bring your map. Do not just rely on your smartphone mapping app as there are instances that it may not clearly work in remote areas where the signal can be spotty.
Spending your summer abroad and renting a car for easy travel may be exciting but remember that it isn’t as simple as it seems. Keep in mind that the whole preparation process, from researching to making your booking, may eat a lot of your time, but it is also the best way to avoid overpaying for a car for hire.