Useful information before Renting a Car

Many of us need to rent a car at some point during the year, above all for holidays and vacations when we have flown to our destination. The cost of this car hire can be substantial, and in certain countries can be the major expense of a holiday.

Most car rentals nowadays are organised through brokers. Typically these companies search the available vehicles from several of the leading car-rental companies to find the best price. They then add their own commission to the price before giving you a quotation.

The car hire broker may also need to pay a commission to the company that introduced the customer to them.

Because of these factors, different car-hire companies will quote different rates for exactly the same vehicle.

We have found that certain brokers tend to quote lower prices for short hire periods, such as a long-weekend, and others for longer periods. Likewise, some companies will be more competitive for 'bottom of the range' cars, while others offer better prices for luxury vehicles.

As brokers we know which companies tend to be best for each type of rental, but you the customer won't have access to that information. This means that you should always get quotes from at least two, perhaps even three, rental companies if you want to be sure of getting the best available price.

How long before travelling should you book your car rental to get the best price? This can vary as well! It is not generally necessary to book many months in advance, but if you leave it until the last minute popular destinations may not have many cars available - so the companies involved will increase the price.

I think about three to six months before travelling is usually a good compromise, although many people prefer simply to book their car rental as soon as they have booked the other parts of the trip such as flights and accommodation.

You should be aware that certain car hire companies will have a penalty charge if you fail to turn up, while others will allow you to cancel the rental without charge to yourself up until 24 or 48 hours before the rental is due to start. According to your circumstances you might believe it is worth paying a little extra for the peace of mind this flexibility will bring you.

Because the car-hire companies are under pressure to quote a low 'headline cost' they also hope to make money later from additional charges. Extra costs that might be imposed on you include hire of child-seats, hire of a roof rack and additional insurance costs.

Further charges might also be levied if you are over a certain age or need a second driver to be registered to drive the vehicle. All these extra costs can be expensive, and make it difficult to compare quotes from different companies. For this reason, when you compare quotes that you have received from different brokers you need to be very clear about exactly what is included in the quote, and whether further charges will be imposed when you collect the vehicle.