Rent a luxury car in Europe

Luxurious Car Rental

Renting a car can give you the freedom and flexibility when you travel, and in some parts of the world is the only possible way to get around. But a rental car can sometimes add complications to your trip -- like trying to find the best deal or sorting out exactly which insurance options you need. Read on for our practical tips on saving money, understanding your rental agreement and avoiding problems with your car rental.

I f you would like to drive around Europe, you cannot bring your car and you live outside the European Union, there are two options for getting a car rental soon.

Renting is just what you'd expect: You pay by the day or week, with or without mileage fees, as you'd do at home.

Short-term leasing, also called "buy back" or "purchase-repurchase" may be an even better choice if you need a car for 17 to 21 days or longer. You get a new Peugeot or Renault and turn it in at the end of your trip. It's a win-win-win situation: You get a bargain rental, the car company can sell the vehicle as a slightly used car, and some lucky European gets an almost-new car while saving on the purchase tax. You can get a home business, the manufacturer can sell the vehicle as a car rarely used, and some lucky European car gets a new quasi saving on purchase tax.

Some company provided a chart to help you decide which is better for you: traditional car rental or a short-term tourist lease. You may also want to compare rates for the two options by visiting our partners, Auto Europe rentals, Peugeot "Buy Back" leases at lowest rates, available through Auto Europe and Renault Eurodrive an alternative source for short-term tourist leases.

Choosing a Vehicle:

Think carefully about what kind of vehicle you need. If you're traveling with children or with a lot of gear, you may want a large sedan or SUV. If you're simply looking to save money on rental rates and gas, you'll want to reserve the smallest available model.

But size isn't the only factor. Looking for something environmentally friendly? Check out our Green Travel Resources for eco-friendly car rentals. Can't drive a stick shift? Make sure you book a car with automatic transmission. In many countries, a manual transmission is the norm -- so read the fine print before booking. Learn more with our International Car Rental Tips. Also, be sure that the company from which you're renting offers any extras you might need or want, such as a ski rack, car seat or GPS system.

Booking Your Car:

How long will you be renting? If it's for less than a week, you'll probably do best with a major rental company, such as carrental8france, Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National or Thrifty. For rentals of a week or longer, you may get better rates from local companies, particularly auto dealers. Remember, however, to be wary of local companies if you plan to drive a lot; if you break down or get into an accident, they usually lack the support services of the majors.

Always look around. Check the major booking engines and aggregator sites such as carrental8france and Kayak to get an idea of what rates are available, but you should also visit the car rental companies' Web sites as well -- they'll often offer exclusive discounts, and you'll avoid booking fees. Don't forget to check out the selection of discount car rental deals before making any reservations.

To lower your rate, ask about discounts for any major national organizations, frequent flier programs and credit card programs to which you may belong. They'll frequently offer deals on car rentals. Those offered through AAA can be very good. If you're employed by a company that frequently rents cars, they may have a negotiated rate. Make sure to check.

Before you book online, do an Internet search for coupon or promotion codes to put into the booking engine of your car rental company's site. Just type the name of the company followed by "coupon code" into the search field and you'll often find special promotion codes that could save you anywhere from 5 to 20 percent off the cost of your rental. For more ideas on saving money when you rent a car, see Cruising for Car Rental Deals.

If you haven't already, consider joining your car rental company's loyalty program when you book. These vary from society, but most of them are free and entitle you to certain privileges when you collect your car, your data will be on file ahead of time, allowing you to simply jump in a car and go rather than standing in a long line or filling out paperwork. You might also enjoy special discounts or free upgrades. For more information, see Car Rental Loyalty Programs: The Whys and Wherefores.

The newest way to save on rental cars is to hook up with a car share service. If you live near a major city or you're a frequent renter, you may save money by joining a car share. Get more information about car shares in Zipcar and Beyond: Is a Car Share Right for You?