Europe is one of the most diverse continents rich in culture, precious areas of wilderness and exquisite places to visit. With some of the world’s leading holiday destinations like Tenerife, Vienna, Faro, Copenhagen, and Nice, you’ll be spoilt for choice as to where to visit. One thing that you’ll most certainly need is to hire a rental car to make your movement around Europe easy. And with the advent of the Internet, finding a car rental deal is fast and easy. But, how do you get the best deal on car rentals? Read on to find out more.
Choosing the Right Kind of Vehicle
You should expect some differences between your typical country rental car and what you’re likely to get in Europe, where midrange cars have less passenger room, vast truck space is unheard of and manual transmissions are the norm. Automatic rental cars are more expensive, about 50 percent more, and may only be available if you upgrade to a bigger, pricier car. If you prefer automatics to manual transmission vehicles, you will need to book in advance. That said, to land the best deal on car rental in Europe, you’ll be required to select a manual transmission car. It’s also advisable to go for the smallest, least expensive model with a stick shift, not just to save money, but because larger cars are not as maneuverable on Europe’s narrow, winding roads. But if you're more than two adults traveling, then book a larger class of the car.
Choosing the Right Rental Company
Most people start their search for rental cars on travel booking sites such as Kayak, Expedia or AAA. However, if you have a favorite car rental agency at home, you should consider using the same company in Europe, especially if they offer worldwide services. When shopping around, don’t stop at comparing initial price quotes. You’ll also want to determine which company offers the best combination of rates, including all fees and any extras you want such as, service, and pick up/drop off locations. Also, consider a consolidator such as Auto Europe. The company compares the rates of various companies, including many of the big-name firms, and find you the best deals. Since they act as “wholesalers”, they pass the savings on to you. No matter whom you rent through, be sure to hang onto all your paperwork (including the checklist used by the company to check the car’s condition when you turn it in) for a few months after the rental period, in case a billing dispute arises.
It’s always smarter to pay for a rental car when booking, rather than at the agency counter in Europe. Chances are, when booking, you’re likely to get a discount and you’ll only pay for the quoted price. Plus, you will avoid paying international transaction fee on your credit card. This makes the deals way better when paid up front. In addition, if you’re purchasing a collision damage waiver from the rental company, it’s likely to be cheaper if paid upfront compared to paying at the agency. But look out for cancellation fees. Don’t pay if your itinerary is likely to change and be sure to familiarize yourself with the company’s cancellation policy as well.
Double-Check Currency Conversions
If you want to get the best deal possible, avoid foreign rental company sites that use fudged conversion rates that make the price in dollars look cheaper than the price that’ll actually show up on your credit card bill. Convert prices yourself through a conversion site like Oanda. Typically, renting a car for a longer period costs less compared to daily renting. You might find that the price for renting a car for seven days costs the same as, or even less than, renting the same car for five or six days.
Always Become a Rewards Member
Anytime you use a particular company to rent a car or book a plane or a hotel, be sure to sign up for their free loyalty program. Though it might seem futile at times, those points can accumulate to become something valuable someday. Additionally, as a member, you get to experience special perks, such as reduced quotes on car rental. As a result, you get a better chance of traveling to the destination of your choice at the best deal possible.
To Consider Before Your Purchase
- Cross border fee. Ask if the company charges an extra fee for driving their cars into certain countries. When driving through western Europe this is generally not an issue. But driving into or between non-EU countries may cost you a little more.
- International Drivers Permit. Since you’re in a different region, be sure to get an International Drivers Permit, which contains your name, photograph, and driver information. It costs around $20. However, this doesn’t replace your Driver’s License or passport but rather it supplements your Driver’s License.
- Choose the Right Kind of Vehicle – If you’re comfortable driving a manual transmission car, then renting one in Europe tends to be cheaper compared to automatic transmission cars.
- Which rental company – It’s better to go for a well-known rental company that doesn’t include hidden charges in their quotes.
- Plan upfront – Be sure to pay for everything upfront as this helps you to avoid incurring other charges that are normally included when paying at the agency counter.
- Double-check currency conversions – Avoid using the rental company conversion chart since they manipulate the conversion rates.
- Always become a rewards member – Members enjoy even better renting deals than non-members.
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