7 Expensive Car Rental Mistakes To Avoid

With the arrival of summer, many of us are counting down to our summer holidays. Whether you holiday at home or abroad this year, if you plan to hire a car, avoid these car hire mistakes and save time and money while you are away.

1. Forgetting to check the total price: cheap car rental isn’t always best

Even if the price claims to be "inclusive", there are a number of items and services that may not be included. The cheapest option may not always be best either with high excesses or additional costs like:

  • Child seats
  • Additional driver(s)
  • Fees for drivers under a certain age
  • Distance limits
  • Returning the car outside of business hours
  • Crossing international borders
  • Returning the vehicle to a point other than the pick-up point or to an airport
  • Excess insurance

2. Not checking your car rental deposit

Make sure that any deposit you pay will be deducted from the total price and will not appear as a separate, additional charge on your credit card bill.

3. Not reading the contract

To understand what your rights and obligations are, always read the contract carefully. Don't be afraid to ask about anything that you don't understand before signing it. Never sign a contract unless you are clear about its contents and are happy with all the terms and conditions attached to it. It is important to check the excess for damage because it can be expensive.

Pay particular attention to the following:

  • What exactly is included in the contract for the price quoted or advertised?
  • Insurance Policy: does the insurance policy cover all the drivers who intend to drive the car, what type of insurance coverage is involved and do you have to pay an excess if there is a claim?
  • Excess Car Hire Insurance can provide peace of mind as excess can range from €500 to €2000+ depending upon the country where the rental is taken.
  • Fuel Policy: is there a charge if you don't return the car with a full tank of fuel?
  • Driver Policies: are there insurance restrictions on the amount of people who can drive the car and/or their age?
  • Breakdown Policy: is it clear what you should do in the event of the car breaking down? If not, ask the rental company for details. Never try to fix the car yourself or have any work done without checking with the rental company first.
  • Returns Policy: is there a charge for returning the car to a different location than you picked it up at, or at an airport?
  • Cancellation policy: is there one and what is required?

4. Not filling in a car rental damage check sheet

When you pick up and return the car, make sure you get an employee of the rental company to confirm, in writing, any damage that's on the car before you drive it. You should also do this when you drop the car off to confirm that no damage occurred while you had the car and to avoid paying excess for damage.

Usually, you will be given a checklist or a diagram of the existing exterior damage when you pick the car up. If not, make a list of your own and have it signed. Doing this can avoid paying excess for damage.

Check that the car's equipment:

  • Lights
  • Air-conditioning
  • Tires
  • Windscreen (a small chip can become a big problem)

Are in good order before setting off. For your own safety there are some essential car safety tips to consider no matter where you are driving.

5. Not checking where you can go

This is an important piece of car rental advice, are there any limits on the distance you can travel in the rental period? Is crossing International borders allowed? Also check if you need an international driver's permit or other documentation in the country you are renting in.

6. Not checking the insurance cover

Make sure the insurance you, and anyone who will be driving the car, take out is adequate for your needs. Also, will you have to pay any excess in the event of something going wrong? If you are liable for an excess Car Hire Excess Insurance can help protect you against having to pay a large excess in the event of damage to your hire car.

7. Returning the car out of hours

It is never a good idea to return a vehicle outside business hours, as you can't get someone to confirm that no damage has been done. If you must do this take pictures showing the condition of the car. This may suffice as evidence that no damage occurred during the rental period. Leave yourself enough time to check the car and don't leave it to the last minute to return it. Doing this can avoid paying excess for car damage.

Car rental in Europe vs USA

Although rules and regulations will vary by country it is generally easier to rent a car in the US. There are more complexities around insurance and terms and conditions in Europe however don’t let this put you off, once you are on the open road, looking at stunning scenery it will all be worth it!

Don’t get caught with unnecessary car hire excess fees, get a quote for affordable car hire excess insurance with AIG.

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