Savvy Money: Don't let hidden holiday car rental charges drive you round the bend

Hiring a motor can suddenly cost more than you budgeted for. Here are the traps to steer clear of

Ah, holidays! So good for your well-being, so bad for your bank balance. Well, they can be. And there's nothing like an unexpected bill from a car hire company to get rid of that holiday feeling. Every year, thousands of holidaymakers have problems with dodgy car rental firms, or just inflated prices.

Compare prices

Shopping around for car hire is easy, but working out what's a bargain and what isn't is trickier. I've just compared prices for a "medium-sized family car" to rent for the last week in July and first week in August from Malaga airport in Spain, and found the cheapest deal was around £315 and the most expensive was £930. Exactly what do you get for the extra £600?

Watch out for extra charges

Whether or not you opt for the cheapest deal, make sure you check exactly what you'll be charged for. There's a plethora of charges that you may have to pay, and many car hire companies take a hefty deposit on your credit card to cover these extras.

For example, you may have to pay extra charges if you want to pick up the car from a different location to the one you return it, if you pick it up in a city centre and drop it off at the airport or vice versa.

Optional extras

You'll often be charged anything from a few pounds to more than £15 a day if you add a child car seat or a satnav. Watch out for the minimum fees – which can be four or five times the daily rate – if you're only hiring a car for a short period.

If you want to share the driving with someone else, you may have to pay a fee for additional drivers.

Fuelling costs

Unlimited mileage is standard these days (but it's still worth checking). How you'll be charged for fuel still varies widely. One of the worst tricks that car hire companies use to squeeze a few extra pounds out of unsuspecting holidaymakers is to ask you to bring the car back with an empty fuel tank. It's almost impossible to do and you don't get a refund for any fuel that's in the car.

If the car is meant to be returned full and you don't do this, you'll be charged for a full tank at the car hire company's rates, which is likely to be higher than the price you'd pay at the pumps.

Excess charges

All these charges can bump up the price of hiring a car, but some companies save their biggest "sneaky extra charge" for covering the cost of the insurance excess. When you hire a car, insurance is included as standard.

However, most companies impose an excess (the first part of any claim you'd have to pay) of several hundred pounds or more.

That means if you have an accident (or can't demonstrate that a scratch or nick wasn't done by you), you will be charged the excess. And even where car hire companies have a low or zero excess, in most cases this won't apply if you damage the tyres or the windscreen.

Excess insurance

You can buy excess insurance from the car hire company (it may be called "super collision damage waiver") or as a standalone policy. If you buy it from the car hire company, you could pay upwards of £5 a day for a 14-day booking, and a number of hire companies only let you buy this insurance when you pick up the car – when it could cost much more.

Standalone policies

Companies that sell this insurance as a standalone policy include Icarhireinsurance.com, insurance4carhire.com and insuremycarhire.com. Expect to pay from £2.99 a day for a policy for car hire anywhere in Europe (including tyre and windscreen damage) or from £38.99 for an annual policy. Worldwide annual policies start at £59.99.

Verdict

If you want to make sure you avoid any nasty surprises, shop around for car hire carefully, making sure you read the terms and conditions to find out exactly what's included and what isn't.

Always buy excess insurance – in advance or as a standalone policy. If the car hire company does take money for charges you've not agreed to, contact your bank or card provider for a refund.

savvywoman.co.uk

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
people
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
News
Kristen Stewart and Rupert Sanders were pictured embracing in 2012
people
News
President Obama, one of the more enthusiastic users of the fist bump
scienceBumping fists rather than shaking hands could reduce the spread of infectious diseases, it is claimed
Sport
Mario Balotelli posed for this selfie during AC Milan's 5-1 defeat to Manchester City
sport
Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth Games
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
arts + ents
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
Extras
indybestSpice up your knife with our selection of delicious toppings
Sport
sport
News
Orville and Keith Harris. He covered up his condition by getting people to read out scripts to him
People
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Training/Learning and Development Coordinator -London

    £28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Training/Learning and Development Co...

    Training Programme Manager (Learning and Development)-London

    £28000 - £32000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manage...

    .NET Software Developer (.NET, C#, ASP.NET, front-end)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A Global Financial Service Organi...

    C# Web developer (C#,MVC,ASP.NET,SQL)

    £30000 - £40000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: C# Web d...

    Day In a Page

    A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

    A new Russian revolution

    Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
    Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
    Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

    Standing my ground

    If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
    Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

    Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

    The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
    The man who dared to go on holiday

    The man who dared to go on holiday

    New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

    The Guest List 2014

    Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
    Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

    Edinburgh Fringe 2014

    The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried