How To Hire A Car: A Guide For The Uninitiated

There are going to be some occasions in your life where you will need to hire a car. For example, you might be going on holiday somewhere and would prefer to have the freedom to drive around the country at your own leisure. Or you might need temporary use of a car until you can buy one.

I was in the latter situation recently, and whilst I was in the process of buying my next used car, I still needed to have use of a car in the meantime for various reasons.

The sad truth is, a lot of people end up hiring completely unsuitable cars, and they can also end up getting ripped off by the car hire firm. If you need to hire a car soon, make sure you follow the top tips in this handy guide to the world of car hire!

Choose the right “class” for your needs

You will have noticed from the various car hire websites that you have visited in the past that cars are grouped into classes.

Because car hire companies have a vast array of vehicles in their fleets, it would be impossible for them to list every single model they have. Instead, classes help to group together certain vehicles.

Bear in mind that the photo you see on their website isn’t necessarily of the model you will be given, and, on some occasions, you might be given a free upgrade to the next class up if they don’t have stock of the particular class.

Don’t pay for accessories

Car hire companies will helpfully offer to hire you accessories such as sat-nav devices or baby seats, but agreeing to pay for these accessories will cost you a fortune.

For example, if you hire a car for a week and you agree to hire a sat-nav device, you could have bought your own brand new sat-nav device after just three days with the money spent!

Therefore, you should bring your own kit with you. Even if you don’t want to go to the expense of buying a sat-nav, you can always install a sat-nav app on your smartphone and buy a cheap windscreen mobile phone holder for a few quid off Amazon.

Don’t take out any “extras”

Included in your car hire deal is comprehensive car insurance cover for the duration of your hire.

The downside to this insurance cover is that it often has an excess of between £300 and £1,000, depending on what car you hire.

The way that car hire firms make their money isn’t through the cost of the car hire but by charging you obscene amounts of money for add-on insurance policies!

Most car hire firms will offer you an add-on to reduce your excess to say £100, but this will normally cost you at least £12 a day.

So if you end up hiring a “weekend special” at a rate of £15 a day for the car, you could potentially end up paying nearly double to reduce your excess!

The smart way to solve this problem is to take out an excess insurance policy from a third-party provider.

There are loads online, and they only cost around £2-3 per day. Those policies also include windscreen, tyre and breakdown cover – something you will also have to pay extra for at the counter!

Sandra Scott

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