If you cannot afford to buy and maintain your own car or you need it for occasional trips – car rental service might be the best option for you. If you enter “cheap car rent in the UK” or similar in any search engine – you will be blown away with different options including a number of comparison websites etc. I have to warn you: you should NEVER trust comparison websites as they usually have contracts with some companies and they will recommend you the best deal which is best for them (highest commission), but not for you. This is true with all comparison services including home/car insurance/credit card comparison.
You should always read Terms and Conditions which are usually well hidden and in a very small font before renting a car and take into account all extra and hidden fees before making up your mind. I decided to go through 4 largest and well known international car rental companies and get a quote for the same class (B – Economy) car for the same period of time – 7 full days, starting and finishing at 9:00 and car taken and returned from the same airport (in my case Edinburgh). I listed prices for all extras offered during the booking and went into Terms and Conditions to get more details on age requirements and Excess fee’s. Here are the results:
|Last updated October, 2011|
|Vehicle||(B) Vauxhall Corsa or similar||(B) PEUGEOT 107 or similar||(B) Opel Corsa(or similar) Economy 4dr||(B) Vauxhall Corsa 3dr|
|Pay at location||£112.40||£136.40||-||£121.88|
|Excess Fee||£650||£600||From £550||£1000|
|Excess waiver||Super Cover weekly. £109.20||Risk Reduction cover. £63 (UK only, includes one additional driver for free)||£33.25||Extended loss damage waiver. £24.43 reduces excess to £500|
|Child seet / Infant Childs seet||£67.20||£77.00||£67.20||£43.40|
|Booster car seat||£25.20||£42||£21||£43.40|
|Young driver surcharge (up to 25)||£132.30 (MAX £189 per rent)||£111.97||£132.30||£80.50|
|Link to website||Hertz||Europcar||Holiday Autos||Sixt|
As you can see from the table above, there isn’t one universal best option for everyone. For example while Sixt car rental price is higher than Hertz or Holidays autos it would still offer cheaper rent for someone who is under 25 as young driver surcharge is much lower than competitors. Do not forget to add up child seats and navigation costs in the total price before making up your mind. I need to draw your attention to Excess Fee part – this is what you would pay if you return your car damaged or have an accident. This ranges from around £550 to £2000 depending on the car you rent and the company. You may not realise but even if you have a tiny scratch on the bumper rental companies usually do not even attempt to fix it but buy a brand new one asking you to pay excess fee which could be even higher than the cost of the new part. In addition, it might be that it even wasn’t you who left that scratch but someone else prior to you – this scratch was not recorded on the day of your rental! To avoid getting into this situation I highly recommend you:
- Look carefully around the car and fill in details of all defects/scratches you can find.
- Take high resolution (with proper camera not your 4 year old phone) photos of the card from all sides prior to driving off.
- Take Excess fee waiver. In this case even if you miss out something you will not be required to pay anything as your excess will go down to zero. It is technically taking insurance for insurance, but it is really worth it if you want peace of mind. BUT: do not make a mistake and get this waiver from the company itself! For example Hertz would charge you £109.20 to waive excess fee. Instead you should use a icarhireinsurance service which would cover excess fee up to £2000 for all 7 days for just £20.92! It is £2.99 a day or £39.99 for the whole year – this is handy if you rent a car more than once a year.
If you still would like to compare prices with more than 4 above listed companies, we recommend using service like carrentals which we tested ourselves and it does show accurate pricing from most rental companies and offers nice and clean user interface.