Holiday Car Hire

You booked online and made sure you got a good deal. Finally, the day comes for your holiday to start and you arrive to pick up your hire car. In the flurry of excitement, you somehow end up with a much larger bill than expected. How did that happen?

Care hire costs can rapidly add up once all the ‘extras’ are slipped in. Extra car rental fees can include insurance excess cover, extra mileage charges, extra drivers, damage fees and more.

Here’s a checklist of things to consider to help keep your car hire costs low.

Insurance excess cover

This is by far the largest contributor to extra car rental fees. Excess cover basically covers you for the excess you’d have to pay if you got in an accident whilst driving the hire car. The excess is often around $4500, so you can pay a fee to reduce that (usually to around $650).

However, excess cover can nearly double the original cost of a car hire. Choice has done the research on how to reduce your excess cover, and provides a comprehensive list of car hire companies and their excess cover costs.

However, the best way to cut down your excess cover is to not pay it – to the hire company. Instead, you can buy standalone hire car excess insurance, which is significantly cheaper. It is also included in most forms of travel insurance, which are also a fraction of the cost you’d pay at the car hire desk. Some credit cards also include complimentary car hire excess cover and travel insurance as part of their general insurance. It pays to check! Many people don’t know this, but it’s a handy tip that can save you a lot of money.

Sat Nav and GPS

Don’t pay extra for a GPS or Sat Nav. Download maps onto your phone in advance and bring your own phone mount or holder.

Car seats

Why pay an expensive car seat hire fee, when you could bring your own? The cost of taking the seat on the flight is usually significantly lower than the hire cost (though it can depend on the length of hire).

Full to full

Particularly when renting a car abroad, keep an eye out for dodgy fuel deals. Choose a company that offers ‘full to full’ service, where you fill it up before you return it. You may pay exorbitant fuel rates if they fill it up for you.

Check all pre-existing damage

Resist the urge to rush the condition report when you pick up the car. Check all pre-existing damage very carefully and take your own photos/videos.

Check the charges on your credit card for the next month or two

Make sure the hire company doesn’t charge you any extra costs in the months after the hire. Follow up any unexpected charges immediately.

Choose one driver

Only having one driver will reduce your car rental fees.

Check the late collection fee

Some hire companies charge an out-of-hours fee. Check in advance, and book transfers which aren’t likely to arrive outside business hours.

Pay in the local currency

Always pay in the local currency, as hire companies are likely to offer a poor exchange rate on your AUD.

Check for upgrades through your credit card

Check for low-cost or free upgrades available with credit card points, frequent flyer programs, coupons or other partner deals, such as with airlines.

And finally...

When you book your hire car online, check if you already have excess insurance through your travel insurance or credit card, and if you don’t, find a low-cost option – before you get to the hire desk.