What is good value car hire?
This is a question we have tried answering a number of different ways on this blog whether it has been via our Inside Car Hire Series or our Nine tips for comparing car rental prices. It is, though, still a question that is asked often.
Well the answer is, unfortunately, “it depends!”; and mainly it depends on your specific requirements. Before you even start looking for car rental I suggest you need to write down a list of all the must-haves, the nice-to-haves and the must-avoids.
When you do start looking for car hire in Spain, or anywhere really, my recommendation is do not be seduced by the headline prices. You can be sure the cheap price you see advertised will not be the price you pay. I just ran an internet search for ‘car hire Spain’ and the first thing I see is “From £5 per day”. Well naturally no one can rent out a car hire for that sort of price and still stay in business so you know (or if you are new to car rental, you will soon find out) that the company will be looking to bump up the price.
The first opportunity to do that is on the cost of the fuel the renter charges. The cheap prices advertised are based on a full/empty fuel policy which means you pick up the car full of fuel and return it empty. The thing is that the cheap ”from” price you saw does not include the cost of that full tank and so when you go to collect the car you have no choice but to pay whatever the car rental company chooses to charge you. Now, actually, if you plan on using that full tank of fuel there is a good chance that the rental price plus the fuel turns out to be reasonable value for money, albeit a long way from that “from” price. However, if you do low mileage then the reverse is likely to be true and at the end of your rental you are giving back a lot of fuel that the company will be charging the next renter for.
I suggest therefore that, if you are planning on low mileage, your first ‘must-have’ should be a full/full fuel option.
What else do you need? Additional drivers? How about a baby seat? Are you happy with an old vehicle or do you want a new car? Do you have your own insurance or will you take the rental company’s own top-up insurance – or will you just ‘wing it’ and hope for the best?
You can now start to narrow down your search and make a like-for-like comparison. Or at least as best you can because, unfortunately, not all companies are as transparent as Drivalia. Drivalia provide a guide to the total cost in advance: most car rental companies do not.
Here are some more questions which will hopefully help find the best value car rental for you:
If you plan on doing high mileage and take a full/empty option what is the expected cost of a tank of fuel charged by the rental company?
What are the extra charges: top-up insurance, additional driver etc?
What is the insurance Excess?
If you do not take top-up insurance what is the deposit and will it be charged or simply blocked? If charged when will it be refunded? (there are potential losses on exchange rates to be factored in here if they charge.)
I hope this has given you some useful pointers but if there is something from your own experience that you think would be useful for others please comment below.