Save money on holiday car hire

hiring a car abroad

The cost of holidays has soared in recent months with car hire in particular costing more than ever before.

It’s never been more important to shop smart when looking for your holiday hire car.

Euro car hire rip-off

Car hire firms make their money by charging you for add-ons. All car rental in Europe must by law include third party cover to protect you against damage you might cause to property or people and most will include theft and accidental damage – albeit with a high excess of up to £1,000. However, check the small print. Our own research has revealed that some car rental companies include only third party cover as standard. This means that if the car is stolen during the rental period you will owe the company the cost of a brand new car.

Every car hire company will push their own collision damage waiver (CDW) policies, which can also be referred to as a loss damage waiver (LDW). These typically cost from around £20 per day, but vary depending on the level of excess. Generally, the greater the cost of the CDW or LDW, the lower the excess you will pay in the event of damage to the car. With the average excess between £500-£1000, the car hire companies will do all they can to upgrade the CDW insurance to cover this amount. On top of this, car hire firms will try and sell you protection against damage to tyres or the windscreen.

You can protect yourself against the cost of the CDW and tyre / windscreen cover by buying a policy that covers the excess on damage and theft, damage to the windows, undercarriage, roof, tyres and headlights not otherwise covered by damage waivers from car hire companies, towing costs associated with mechanical breakdown, misfuelling and key cover. is one such provider.

Euro car hire checklist

  • Book your hire car before you travel – not only can you compare prices but you’ll definitely pay more if you leave it until arrival
  • Check what is included in the rental before you buy. Sounds obvious, but you would be surprised at the sharp practice of even large, well-known companies. For example, SIXT will include a basic protection against theft and damage if you rent one of its vehicle for use in Britain, but will only include third party cover if you are renting in Europe.
  • Consider buying your own insurance to safeguard against any excess you may be charged – is one of a number of companies offering this. If you take this route, careful not to upgrade your CDW at the collection desk as you will effectively be paying twice.
  • Before you leave with the car it is vital that you make a note of any damage on the rental agreement. Pay particular attention to scuffs on the wheels, minor scratches on the bodywork and tiny chips on the windscreen. Also check the recorded mileage of the car, the fuel gauge reading and that the spare wheel is in place and inflated. If in doubt, take photos that you can refer to later. Make certain that the damage sheet is countersigned by someone at the check-in desk.
  • Keep all your rental paperwork in case of disputes and check your credit card bill to ensure all fuel deposit and excess surety payments have been returned.
  • Save money on accessories. Hiring a satnav for a week from car hire companies usually costs more than it does to buy your own satnav with European roads included.  Car hire companies charge over £70 for the use of a child seat for a week and around £60 for a booster seat (an item which costs less than £10 to buy). Furthermore, they can be reluctant, or unwilling, to offer guidance on how to fit these seats so bring your own if you can. Charter airlines rarely charge extra for carrying child seats and even low-cost airlines tend to limit the fee to around £10 each way.

The ethical choice

The ETA was established in 1990 as an ethical provider of green, reliable travel services. Over 30 years on, we continue to offer cycle insurance , breakdown cover  and mobility scooter insurance while putting concern for the environment at the heart of all we do.

The Good Shopping Guide judges us to be the UK’s most ethical provider.

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