1 Don’t rely on airport deals
With Europe’s biggest car hire firms recently rapped on the knuckles by the Competition and Markets Authority and told to act on customer complaints about insurance, it’s clear that people have been losing out. They include people who have simply added airport car hire when buying their tickets. Use price comparison sites before you book your car through your airport ticket bundle to make sure it’s the best price available. If you do plan on using airport hire, plan ahead as booking in advance and online you can save money through early bird fees.
2 Credit card check
Give your credit card statement a once-over after the final car hire bill has come off as it may not always be what you agreed to pay at the desk. That little clause about damages may come back to haunt you when you’re charged for a scrape you didn’t notice or weren’t responsible for.
3 Challenge damages
If you do end up damaging your car or a nasty sum comes off your credit card post car-hire by surprise then do challenge the car hire company. As a result of the new review this will be easier to do in six to 12 months time. When you return your car get it checked for damage and signed off by a member of. If you took the car back out of hours or the desk was busy and you didn’t do the check it could be difficult to challenge the extra charges.
4 Fuel for thought
Before booking your car online, make sure to check the options such as “Pick up full and return full” or “Pre-purchased fuel and return empty” depending on what suits your journey. This is handy for those doing shorter trips who don’t want to pay for a full tank of fuel or those doing longer trips who’d rather buy fuel along the way at a less inflated rate.
Car hire insurance takes a cheap and appealing quote to an expensive and disappointing experience if you’re not careful. Hopefully after the regulatory review the list of insurance available will be simplified and you won’t have to think so hard about this. But for now follow the advice of the AA, which recommends that “rather than pay the hire company’s ‘Super’ insurance premium to reduce possible excess payments in the event of a claim it might be cheaper to take the hirer’s standard product and insure separately with a car hire excess reimbursement insurance policy”.
• Lisa Venter is social media manager at moneydashboard.com