How to save money on your car rental
The first time you rent a car, you quickly realise that it will not be the hassle-free, reasonably priced experience you had expected.
Car rental companies draw you in with alluring claims like “From just £6 per day”, and you think to yourself… how can I afford NOT to rent a car?
Pretty soon the dreadful reality will begin to dawn on you.
Unexpected ‘extras’, and hidden charges drive the cost up, until eventually that “£6 per day” is the least of your worries.
Renting a car is never going to be as affordable as the headline price suggests, but I have 5 tips for how to save money on your car rental.
Buy an excess waiver BEFORE you travel
Almost invariably, car rental companies will include a huge excess charge on your insurance, meaning that if the car gets damaged (however minorly) you could be landed with an enormous bill when you hand it back.
“But ahhhh” says the guy at the rental desk “you can remove the risk by purchasing this excess waiver for £200”.
So you buy it… and suddenly the cost of your bargain car hire has just doubled!
Don’t do it!
Take ten minutes before you travel and book some excess insurance, which will pay your bill in the event that the vehicle gets damaged. Cover starts at as little as £2.50, so you’ll be saving a small fortune!
You’ll also get a wonderful moment of smug satisfaction at the rental desk when you tell them you don’t need their overpriced waiver.
Save even more with our preferred providers www.carhireexcess.co.uk who have given us a discount code to share. Enter BUBBLE10 to save 10% at the checkout.
Book the smallest car to suit your needs.
In general, the smaller the car, the smaller the cost, and even if you enjoy driving a larger car, it makes a lot of sense to book the smallest car that your needs will allow.
You see, if the car you have booked (or an equivalent) isn’t available, then the car rental desk is obligated to give you a free upgrade, which means you can end up with a much pricier car for no extra cash.
Granted, this isn’t guaranteed to work, however during peak season the chances greatly increase as people flock to book the cheapest car hire, using up all of the smaller cars, and leaving the bigger, more luxurious cars for savvy shoppers like you.
This has worked for me on a number of occasions and usually involves booking a small car like a Vauxhall Corsa, and being upgraded to a more sporty number like a Seat Leon, or Volkswagen Golf.
Say no, non, or nein to pricey extras like satnavs
If you are travelling within the EU, there are several good reasons to decline this costly add-on.
I’m willing to bet you have a smartphone and that your smartphone has Google Maps and GPS. EU countries no longer charge roaming fees so you can use your phone as a sat nav exactly as you would at home, at no extra cost. What’s more if the car has bluetooth connectivity, you can hook-up your phone and hear crystal clear directions for the whole journey.
Just remember to bring a phone holder with you to mount your phone to the dashboard.
(and of course never ever touch your phone while driving)
4. Bring your own car booster seat
Traditional rigid car booster seats are a nightmare for air travel… and your car rental company knows it! That’s why they can charge you up to £13 per day to rent a booster seat for your children, because they think you have no other choice.
But you do!
A BubbleBum booster seat rolls up to fit easily in your hand luggage, and weighs just 500g so even your little one will be able to carry it. They are fully compliant with US and European regulations for children aged 4-11 and 15-36kgs (40-100lbs in the USA). RRP is just £29.99, so it will have paid for itself within 3 days of your holiday, and you can use it again and again for your future trips.
It’s another great reason to smile smugly as you approach the car rental desk.
Stick with one driver
Having more than one driver named on the rental is a sure-fire way to jack up the price… if one of the drivers is under 25, then you are really in for a sting.
If you require more than one driver, be sure to look out for ‘free additional driver deals’ when doing your research, as this can significantly reduce the amount you will have to pay.
By Eoin O’Hara.
Eoin, is a marketing executive at BubbleBum Booster Seats.