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How to Compare the Real Cost of Car Hire

[ 0 ] 30/08/2011 |

Car on MoneyFor many people car hire is a considerable cost but a well worthy cost, however finding a cheap car hire deal is often at the forefront of people’s minds when shopping around.  The logic is the more money you can save on hiring a car the more money you will have to spend doing things, which is common sense, and heck, why would you choose a more expensive deal if another car hire company offers it cheaper? The answer could be a no brainer for many wishing to pocket the difference between quotes.  But sometimes opting for the cheaper option could leave you with the taste of sour grapes in your mouth and you could in fact end up paying more.

These days there are various car hire comparison sites and independent sites such as  These sites list various prices from differing suppliers for the destinations and dates you specify.  However overlooking a few details in the terms and conditions could leave you paying more money on arrival. There are a large number of complaints online from disgruntled people who unknowingly had to fork out money for additional fees on arrival.  More often than not these people have overlooked the terms and conditions or have read one set of terms but unbeknownst to them have then moved on and selected a different car from a different supplier without realising the terms have changed.

The fact is not all suppliers have the same terms and when looking for car hire on the internet it is extremely important to see what is included in your quotation.  When using comparison sites you need to ensure that you visit each site independently to check the terms and if you are using a brokering site, the terms might change according to which car you choose.

In addition to varying terms you have to watch out and be wary of advertising which can be misleading.  More often than not, car hire companies choose their cheapest rates from the lowest season  and use that as their leading price on adverts.  This price of course doesn’t usually include the cost of extras.  Therefore if you require extras such as, sat nav, snow chains, roof racks and child seating, you should be looking for quotations that provide you with these costs and don’t just go by the daily car hire price.

Check Your Inclusions

For true like for like quotations, ignore the daily cost and get a full quotation and make sure you know the pricing on policies of the following:


Various suppliers have differing fuel policies and some instances suppliers will charge you for a fuel tank of fuel upon arrival and ask you to return it empty.  If you don’t use the full tank of fuel you will be left feeling you have paid more than you should have.   Therefore make sure when you are comparing car hire quotes, all quotes abide by the same policy.


Another thing that might bump up costs is exceeding your mileage allowance.  Many suppliers offer unlimited mileage but some will charge additional fees when you return the car having exceeded their limit.   Ensure you aren’t left paying more and look for car hire quotes with unlimited mileage especially if you plan on doing a lot of driving.


Insurances are most probably the most confusing part to compare.  Some quotations will come with insurance included but you need to check what you are covered for.   In most cases you will only be covered for the basics and there are various insurances such as: collision damage waivers; Theft protection cover; damage excess cover and more.  Some companies rename and repackage their insurances making it harder for you to compare them.  Therefore making sure each quote offers the same level of protection will be the most difficult and time consuming aspect.

Note: It is also important to note that most insurance policies which are bought from your car hire supplier do not cover you as a driver or injuries to passengers and other people.

Additional Drivers

It is nice to know that you can hand the reigns over and let someone else drive every once in a while if you get tired.  However not all policies allow additional drivers so if you want to share the driving please check if there are extra costs to name additional drivers on your policy.

Young Driver Fees

Sadly most suppliers apply a young driver’s fee if you are aged 25 years old or under.  These fees are also different depending on where you go and which supplier you choose.

Credit Card Charges

Lastly as a final consideration ask your supplier if they charge for using credit cards.  A credit card fee of 2.5% on a week’s rental will soon bump costs up and this fee is often overlooked by many.

Overall finding a cheap car hire deal is easy, checking what each deal includes is the difficult part.  Sites like aim to make things easy, but it is extremely important to compare like for like quotes to ensure you aren’t left paying more than you originally thought.  To summarise you should check the costs of driving extras, check to see what inclusions you have and what additional fees you will have to pay on arrival or on returning your car.

Category: General Information

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