Hiring a car and the costs involved
Do you need a car?
If you are used to having a car, it is easy to assume that you need one when you are away but this isn’t always the case as it depends where you are visiting and the facilities locally available. If you a holidaying in a city, parking will probably be very difficult and costly and the public transport is very likely to be sufficient for your needs whereas, if you need to travel a long way to your destination after leaving the airport, car hire is likely to pay for itself easily when compared to a taxi fee both ways.
Things to consider when hiring a car
If you need an adapted or Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV) vehicle, you will need to contact a company that will supply a car suitable for your needs together with the necessary breakdown cover.
There may be a package from your airline or travel company that includes car hire and it is always worth contacting the airline to see what they have available.
Always sort your hire arrangements at home. Work out what you need and what is included and whether you need to pay extras such as for child seats, sat-nav and taxes. If you don’t need these extras and they have been added to the price, ask what the price will come down to without these items.
If possible, pay on a credit card, as provided the total hire costs over £100, you get the additional protection provided by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act because if you have a dispute with your car hire company, you will generally have an equal claim against the credit card company if things go wrong. This can be very useful if you get problems with an overseas car hire firm but ensure you pay it off in full and watch out for an additional charges such as:-
- Credit card booking fees. Some places will add an additional cost for booking with a credit card
- If you're booking from an overseas site, in most cases you are better off paying in their currency rather than letting them convert the cost to pounds for you, as you may get a poor rate of exchange
When you collect your hire car
- Inspect your car’s condition and take a photo, especially any scratches or dents in case of any future dispute.
- Low mileage? Check the petrol policy – do you have to return it empty and they refill it – what price will they charge you and will it be higher, ensure that you only pay the going rate for the fuel you use.
- Check the type of fuel the car takes – is it petrol or diesel, if you damage the car by using the wrong fuel, it's unlikely you'll be covered.
- Ensure that you check that the car’s components such as tyres, batteries etc., are fully up to scratch and have contingency money in case of accidents.
- Local legalities – ensure that you have the legal requirements such as high visibility jackets, in-car first aid kits, warning triangles, break down kits etc., for the countries you are visiting as if you don’t have them, your insurance is invalidated.
- Make sure you know its emergency number – make sure you have the emergency number of your car hire company in case of a breakdown or accident.
- Check the local driving laws - as they are not all the same and you may get into trouble with the local drivers.
When you have finished your hire period
Ask for all paperwork to be completed before you leave and Ensure you are there when the inspection is done – don’t just leave the car as you need to ensure that you agree with the result of the inspection and not have any damage attached to your hire period. If it is not possible for you to be there, take lots of photos and notes and take note of the mileage.
- If you are unfortunate enough to have an accident – keep your repair bills as you may not be able to claim at home without them. Also keep any paperwork, don’t throw anything away as you may need it in the event of a dispute.
- Return the car at the correct time – otherwise you may be charged for another day’s hire.
- Ensure that you retrieve your deposit credit card slip so that no further charges can be added to your account. When you get home, check your credit card or bank statement to make sure no extra charges have been added to your bill without your knowledge and ensure deposit has been fully repaid.
Hopefully you will not have any problems but, if you have a problem and have difficulty connecting the company, remember that if you have paid on a credit card, you have the Section 75 protection as a secondary line of help in the resolution of the dispute.
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