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Car Hire: The Most Frequently Asked Questions

December 18, 2015

Read the most frequently asked questions about car hire; see the answers, compare quotes and find the best deal to suit you.

How do I know if car hire is suitable for me?

If you’re on holiday and need a vehicle or you need a car for other reasons, on a temporary basis, car hire could be the perfect solution. If you are travelling overseas or in the UK, it’s a convenient way to get around, by road, independent of public transport or taxis.

Is there a car hire company specific to my needs that I should choose?

The items to think about when hiring a car are:

  • Am I able to choose the type of vehicle I want?
  • Will I be obliged to return the car with a full tank of petrol?
  • What sort of vehicle can I hire?
  • Where will I drop off or collect the vehicle?
  • Are there any limitations to mileage?

Is there a limited selection of cars I can hire?

Some of the options that are usually available are:

  • 4x4s: these are great for off-road journeys
  • Family saloon: a vehicle with plenty of space to fit the family in comfort
  • Economy: when low fuel consumption is the priority
  • People carriers: ideal for a large family or group
  • Convertible: for a special holiday, although can be expensive
  • Luxury: the choice of business travellers, for comfort and affordable style.

Is it best just to go for the cheapest car hire policy I can get?

This may not be the best way forward. It is best to look at the features on offer with a particular policy first. You may need a roof rack, a large boot or air conditioning as specific requirements for your journeys.

Are you aware…?

  • Some insurers offer special car hire excess insurance policies which are well worth thinking about beforehand.

Is a credit card necessary to book a hire car?

There are many insurers who will not accept anything else but a credit card. This means that some will not accept cash, cheques or a debit card.

Where do I collect my hire vehicle from?

Different car hire companies will offer different options. Some may offer an airport pick-up service so your car is waiting for you when you land. However, it is best to check this out because if this is not the case and there is no shuttle service offered, you might have to pay out for costly airport taxi transfers.

Where do I leave my vehicle at the end of the hire period?

Usually this will be at the same point from where you collected your hire car. If this is inconvenient, speak with your provider as a different location can probably be arranged but possibly for an extra fee.

What does an excess waiver mean, is it something I am obliged to pay?

You will often be asked to pay this extra fee as a safeguard against theft, damage, additional liability insurance, or other similar items. The downside if you don’t want to pay this waiver is that if the vehicle is damaged or stolen during the rental period, you will be liable for the full amount of excess as detailed in the Terms and Conditions; this is often exorbitantly high.

Can I choose between a manual or automatic car?

If you would like a car that has manual or an automatic gearbox you can specify that beforehand.

How is fuel consumption calculated?

Different providers will have different criteria. However, as a general rule, most companies offer a ‘return it as you received it’ policy; if the tank is half-full or full, your provider will ask for the car to be returned with same amount of fuel.

Are you aware…?

  • If you need a child seat, this is often available but at a high premium; it is a good idea to take your own.

Be wary of offers whereby you are sold a tank of petrol or diesel fuel and the company allows you to return the vehicle with an empty tank. This is a way for the hire firm to gain profit as you will pay for the fuel, based on the price the hire firm have set.

What documents do I need?

You will be required to produce valid driving licences for each named driver on the policy. You may need an international driving permit if you are abroad and depending on the car hire firm. Some companies may ask to see your passport.

Do the car hire firm impose mileage limitations?

There may be limits in place, it is best to check with your provider. It is also a good idea to check if driving across borders between countries is permitted.

Will the policy include breakdown cover?

Check the Terms & Conditions although at the very least, you should be issued with an emergency number in case of difficulty.

Is it possible to hire a child seat?

This is often offered by car hire companies but it will probably come at a high premium; you might want to consider taking your own.

Will the car have a SatNav?

Increasingly, this facility is offered as a regular feature; if it is not, it may be possible to hire one for an extra fee. It is best to check this out or take your own.

Will it be more cost effective to book car hire with my flight?

This will vary with different providers and the packages offered; it is best to shop around and compare prices.

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