How to avoid rental car pitfalls

‘The vehicle hire business has been distorted by the internet’: Simon Calder lifts the lid on how to get the best deal

Saturday 30 May 2020 13:40
Drive me crazy: don't get caught out when hiring a car
Drive me crazy: don't get caught out when hiring a car

Car rental is a ferociously competitive industry. I have just Googled “cheap car rental Palma airport” and have been offered a vehicle for just 27p per day through Do You Spain. Not bad for unlimited use of an asset that is worth £10,000 to explore the beautiful island of Mallorca.

This deal is not quite as good as it seems. When I made a test booking for 1 August 2020, the price for 24 hours went up to £13. I must, though, pay €90 (£81) for a full tank of petrol, and even if the rental car staff are scrupulous about applying the right refund, it will be subject to a “Fuel Service Charge” of between €25 and €31 (£22-£28). So the cost has already roughly trebled. Oh, and there is an “excess” for any damage of up to €1,050 (£942) – while the car has insurance, I have to meet a huge potential bill.

Even if I am prepared to take this risk, I am warned: “You may need to purchase the supplier’s insurance on collection,” which will cost me €42 (£38). So the potential cost before I have driven an inch could be about six times the originally quoted sum, and around 300 times that fabled 27p.

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