Whether you need to hire a car during your next business trip or as part of that holiday you have promised your family, you are almost certain to want the arrangement to represent the best deal possible.
The following tips are offered as ways of saving money on your hire car costs whilst still maintaining good value for money.
- “book early and pay less” is one of the maxims of the hire car business – advice that is echoed by the Citizens’ Advice Bureau (CAB) and with good reason;
- the earlier you book, the more likely you are to be able to choose the vehicle you want and pick the one offered at the most competitive price;
- as the date draws nearer, you are likely to be left with a much smaller pool from which to choose – with supply and demand dictating that prices go up;
- during peak season in particular the demand for hire cars may even exceed the available supply;
- you have no choice but to insure your hire car for the minimum third party cover required in the country or countries in which you intend to drive;
- whether cover for accidental damage is included in the hire price or needs to be arranged separately (as is often the case in North America and the Caribbean), you may be certain that any claim comes with a substantial excess attached – up to £1,000 or more, depending on the vehicle you have chosen to drive and the country in which you are driving it;
- a car hire insurance supplement, in the form of excess cover, is a prudent way of guarding against your exposure to such a hefty risk and help to keep at bay any sleepless nights about the expenses you face if the hire car is damaged;
- although hire car excess insurance may prove a sensible buy, therefore, you might want to ensure that you buy standalone cover before you go, from a specialist insurance provider – one such example is Bettersafe – rather than end up paying over the odds for less comprehensive cover if you buy at the last minute, when arriving at the car rental check-out desk;
Credit card pre-authorisation
- if you want to save money on the cost of your hire car, make sure you understand fully just what you are doing when you sign the credit card pre-authorisation slip that the rental company invariably requires as a deposit against additional charges;
- the government backed Money Advice Service, for instance, points out that once you have signed the pre-authorisation, the rental company may make any deduction up to the total amount you have authorised in this way;
Checking the condition of the vehicle
- there are at least two occasions on which you need to make an especially detailed and thorough inspection of the state and condition of your hire car – when you first pick it up and again when you return it;
- when you first collect it, of course, your aim is to ensure that you formally record and agree the condition of the vehicle at the time it is handed over to you;
- the record needs to be detailed, signed by the company agent handing over the vehicle, and backed up with any photographs you are able to take of scratches, dents or other damage;
- similarly, when handing back the vehicle, make sure that an agent signs the condition report or if you are doing so out of hours, take photographs again as evidence that you have caused no further damage since first collecting the car.
All of these steps may help you to save money and potentially unexpected costs when you next hire a car.