Holiday rentals: things to consider before hiring a car

This article covers the most essential things for you to think about before you hire a car. We will cover the most helpful tips, the most dangerous pitfalls, and the essential parts to make sure renting your car is as straightforward as possible to make sure your holiday gets off to a great start.

Choosing your car hire

With hundreds of car rental companies and options available, choosing your car hire can be a little daunting. Most people tend to use car rental brokers which allow you to compare several car rental companies and often, we make a decision based on price. But is cheap car hire always best?

Before you make your decision, check what’s included in the price. Do you have basic insurance, known as Collision Damage Waiver? Do you have third party insurance included? The price may be low, but you could end up paying more for lots of extras.

Check out the latest online reviews on review forums such as TripAdvisor. How are the waiting times to collect and return your vehicle? Are the cars good quality? Is the service of a high standard? Honest reviews from fellow car hirers can help you make a decision on which car rental companies are best and which you should avoid.

Now you’ve chosen your car hire, you’ll have the option to include any additional extras such as; child seats, a sat nav and additional drivers. The cost of hiring these can add up, especially if you’re planning on taking a longer vacation. Could you save a little money and use your smartphone as your sat nav? (Be sure to check with your data provider)

One final thing to remember before you leave for the airport: Make sure you take a credit card with you for the hire company to ‘hold’ the excess payment. It should be in the name of the ‘lead driver’. Note that most car rental companies will not accept debit or switch cards, or cash.

When you arrive at the car rental desk

Check the fuelling policy before you drive away. Some rental companies opt for a ‘full to full’ policy where you need to return the tank full whereas others opt for a ‘full to empty’ policy where you’ll return the vehicle with an empty tank. Almost every customer we surveyed told us the best fuel policy is always ‘full to full’ which means you will only pay for the fuel you use. Make a note of nearby filling stations so you can refuel yourself and avoid hefty fuelling charges. 'Full to empty' means you’ll get stung for any unused fuel when you return the car.

If you have an insurance4carhire excess policy, you should decline their car hire excess insurance. It’s not necessary to show them your insurance4carhire policy, however, they will ask you to hand over your credit card so they can put a ‘block’ on your card for the amount of excess you are liable for. If the car rental company make charges to your card for something covered by your policy, you’re then able to submit a claim to us for reimbursement.

If you have purchased a Worldwide Plus policy to cover Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) and Supplemental Liability Insurance (SLI) then it’s a little different; you should show your insurance4carhire policy so they know you’re covered.

And finally, remember: know the number to call in an emergency or if the car breaks down.

Before you drive away

Almost half of the customers we surveyed told us they take photos of their hire car using their smartphones - and even videos - before they drive away or sign the rental agreement, to avoid any unnecessary charges for damage that may have already been caused to the vehicle. If you notice any issues with your hire car, be sure to notify the hire company right away. Just in case it’s dark, take a torch with you or use the torch on your smartphone.

Also, remember to keep your paperwork after your rental just in case you notice a sneaky charge appear on your credit card.

We hope you’ve found the above information helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to give us a call, email or tweet us.

When you return the car

It's always a good idea to check the car before you return it to the rental company, especially if you have opted for a key drop return (where there is no-one present at the rental desk to check the car over), just like our advice before you drive away, this could help avoid any unnecessary charges you may incur if you have returned the car undamaged.