Top tips when hiring a car for your holiday
Imagine travelling Route 66 in a coach. Or crossing Italy by train. Or waiting for a bus to run you into the city centre for an important business meeting in Geneva. It's hard, isn't it? Hard to imagine being tied to public transport and the tattered bus timetable your hotel concierge handed you at check in.
Hiring a car means one thing - freedom. Freedom to explore places off the beaten track, freedom to leave when you like and return whenever it takes your fancy, freedom to do you whilst on holiday. Travelling is all about freedom and with Holiday Extras, we want to help you be the most free you can be whilst travelling the beautiful sites our world has to offer.
We also know that hiring a car can be quite nerve wracking. The car hire industry doesn't have the best reputation, and we get that. So we want to be there to help you wherever we can. We've put together our top tips to give you the confidence you need when hiring a car.
1: Know your insurances
Insurance is up there with one of the most confusing things to consider when hiring a car. What am I covered for? What do I need to take out? What if I have an accident? There are many scenarios and even more questions.
Let's start from the beginning.
All hire cars come with a certain level of insurance as standard, but this may not cover you in the way that you'd hope. When you collect your hire car, there will be two options available to you.
- Leaving an excess. - When collecting your car, you can leave an insurance excess, sometimes referred to as a deposit. This amount will change depending on the size of the car and will be taken as a pre-authorisation on the lead driver's credit card. This is not a physical payment and the full amount will be released to your card following your rental if the car is returned on time and with no damage. If you do have an accident, the cost of the repairs will be taken out of the excess.
- Premium Insurance. - The second option available to you is to take out a Premium Insurance product over the counter when collecting your hire car. This is often a smaller amount than an excess, but it is a physical payment and is strictly non-refundable.
It's up to you which option you take, but if you're happy to leave the excess on your credit card, don't feel pressured into taking any extra insurance over the counter.
You can also protect any excess you do leave with our Full Protection policy. You'll still need to leave an excess, but in the event of any accidents or damage, you'll be protected for up to £3000. You can add Full Protection to your booking, but if you've forgotten to do this, don't panic! We've also got an annual insurance policy available through our insurance team that covers you up to £4000.
2: Clue up on fuel policies
There are two fuel policies available when hiring a car through us:
- Full to Full - Collect your hire car with a full tank of fuel and return it with a full tank. The car does need to be returned full or refuelling charges will apply.
- Pre-purchase (Partial Refund) - Prepay for a tank of fuel on arrival. You'll also need to pay a non-refundable refuelling fee, but you will receive a refund for any unused fuel.
We strongly recommend selecting a car with a Full to Full fuel policy as, the majority of the time, this turns out to be the best value for money and makes sure you're not charged inflated rates for fuel at the depot.
3: Choosing the right car
Whether you're looking for a Ford Mustang or a Fiat 500, choosing the right car for you and your family is really important. Before you book, spend some time checking what car will be best for you. Here's a few things we recommend thinking about before committing to a car hire:
- Will the car comfortably accommodate all of your passengers and luggage?
- Do you want to hire something similar to your normal car or do you fancy treating yourself and grabbing the keys to a sportier model?
- What kind of driving will you be doing? If it's over different terrains, it might be worth considering a more robust car.
Keep in mind that the majority of car hire firms can't guarantee the specific make and model due to demand - they can only advise of a car type and "or similar", so don't get too hung up on the individual car!
4: Keep an eye out for pre-existing damage
You've arrived at the depot and you're itching to grab your keys and get behind the wheel. Before you do that, it's always a good idea to take a look around the car - both inside and out - and take some pictures of any damage you spot. Make sure this damage is noted on your paperwork from the depot! It's also a good idea to snap a few images of the mileage and fuel gauge, especially if you are on a limited mileage package, just incase there are any discrepancies on your return.
5: The 5 must haves
There are 5 things you absolutely must have with you when collecting your car. Make sure you don't forget any of these, or you may not be able to take the car away!
- Holiday Extras voucher
- Credit Card in the lead driver's name, with enough credit to cover the full cost of the excess
- Full driving licence
- DVLA Code
And that's it! Hiring a car can and should be an exciting excuse to explore corners of the world that you'd never thought possible, so get behind the wheel and off the beaten track on your next trip. Holiday Extras make it easier than ever to compare great deals, filter depending on your preferences and travel freely - click here to explore the possibilities and book.
Looking for more inspiration, information or a handy travel guide? You'll find more on our travel hub.
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