Car hire: How to book the best deal

Which? Travel magazine's travel expert, Chris Gray, advises on how to get the best deal on car hire

By National Geographic Traveller (UK)
Published 5 Nov 2014, 11:45 GMT

What's the best way to book a hire car?
There are two ways. Either use well-known car hire companies like Avis, Europcar and Hertz, which will supply you with a car directly. Or book through a broker such as Economy Car Hire or Holiday Autos and they'll arrange for you to book a vehicle from a car hire firm. Using a broker can make comparing deals easier, as you'll see prices from a range of suppliers. You may secure a better deal but each price will not necessarily include the same things, so find out what's included before booking.

How does the insurance work?
Basic insurance, known as collision damage waiver, is included when you book. It covers you against paying the full cost of repairs. However, you'll still have to pay a certain amount towards the costs of repair, regardless of who's at fault. This amount, known as the excess, can be as high as £2,000. You're also unlikely to be covered for damage to windscreen, tyres and undercarriage. When you pick up the car, you'll probably be asked to take out extra insurance so you don't have to pay anything towards damage. These policies can be expensive as they're charged by the day, and can equal the initial cost of the rental. We suggest avoiding this extra insurance by taking out 'excess reimbursement insurance' from a separate insurance company before you go. These can be annual or single-trip policies and are far cheaper. However, you'll have to pay for repairs upfront and claim the cost back from your insurer.

Any tricks to watch out for?
Make sure you know the fuel policy before you book. Some companies require you to pay for a full tank when you pick up the car. We think it's poor value and have been campaigning to get it stopped. Picking up the car full and returning it full is a better option.

Published in the November 2014 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)


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