Hiring a Car at the Airport

There are hundreds of rental desks across the world and many car hire companies competing in a small space. In this guide we’ll take a look at the airport rental desks to explore whether it could be more beneficial to leave the airport before hiring a car for your trip.

When is the Best Time to Book a Hire Car?

Car Rental Airport

Is it cheaper to reserve a rental car in advance? Reserving the rental car in advance has several advantages:

Busy periods like bank holidays, summer holidays and even weekends may also mean hiring a car on the day is no cheaper at all. It’s a common misconception that you can get cheap airport car rental deals by arriving at the desk without a booking. Car rental desk representatives often have discretional discount they can use so you may find you get a slightly better deal but risk no availability. 

If you do leave it last minute, call ahead and check availability.

Airport Car Hire Comparisons – Always Read the Reviews

Whether at the airport or not, we would strongly urge you to please read the reviews before you book. Equally, if you’ve had a good or bad experience with a car hire firm or particular rental desk yourself, your opinion is valuable to others looking to book and we would urge you to share your experiences. 

Airport Tax Charges

In many cases, if you hire a car from a rental desk at the airport, you will find airport tax included in your overall quote. In America, you’re likely to notice this more as it is charged separately to the car hire. Read our guide to car hire in America to understand the differences in insurance too! On that basis it could be cheaper to search for a local car hire branch outside of the airport and check their prices in comparison to the rental desks at the airport.

Just remember, you’ll need to factor in the cost of getting around until you pick up the hire car to get a good cost comparison. 

Queues at the Rental Desk

As you might imagine, if there are several planes which come in at round about the same time, you may find the rental desk queues to be off-putting.

If you venture away from the airport to a non-airport car rental pick up location, you are unlikely to have the same issue but it would be worth checking their opening hours in advance.  Car rental desks at the airport are often open for 24 hours, so if your flight arrives at an awkward time, there is no need to worry about the desk being closed. You’ll find that for the most part, hire car collection points outside of airports are subject to stricter office hours.

Airport Drop-offs - Refuelling your Hire Car

If you fail to refill your fuel tank before returning the hire car, you will usually be required to top up or pay (an inflated version of) the difference. Conveniently, some airport rental companies even provide their own petrol pumps, but beware that the fuel here may cost you considerably more than if you were to visit a regular petrol station.

In fact, petrol stations surrounding the airport are also generally more expensive so plan ahead to find the most sensible place to top up.

If when dropping the car off you simply have to drop off the keys into a box, keep an eye on your credit card when you get home just in case you are unexpectedly charged for damage. Make sure you call the rental company for a damage report as evidence, as this will be required if you need to make a claim back for your excess.  

How insurance4carhire Can Protect You

Insurance4carhire policies have cover applicable specifically to travel which includes flights. All of our car hire excess insurance policies include:

Losses covered up to £300 in total for any one claim & £150 for any single item (please be aware if you cannot find an original receipt or other proof of purchase for these items the limits drop to £200 for one claim and £75 for a single item.

It’s not uncommon for rental desk staff, whether at the airport or not, to refuse excess protection policies and encourage customers to purchase their insurance instead. As long as you and your hire vehicle meet the terms and conditions of our policy, there should be no reason why a car hire firm can turn down our insurance; so try and dig deep for an explanation.