Driving abroad this summer? Book your car hire early to save valuable time and money. Plus, will the driving licence counterpart changes affect you?
If you look outside, it may not feel like summer is upon us. However for many, the countdown to the long awaited holiday is very much on. You can be guilty of day-dreaming about the beach or city break that’s just around the corner, but one thing’s for sure, car hire probably wasn’t on your mind.
Most of us are now accustomed to booking flights and accommodation early as it’s a well-known fact that airlines up their prices nearer the date. These days car rental companies do the same, particularly in peak holiday seasons.
It pays to be prepared, so why not organise your summer car hire now? We’ve compiled 5 top tips to help you save money, so you’ve got more to spend when you’re on holiday. Plus, with the new driving licence counterpart changes now in force, we’ve included 3 tips to help you save time organising car hire.
Save big by booking earlier
Booking your car hire early will save you both time and money and ensure that you find the perfect car for your travels. If you leave it till the last minute or book at the hire centre, the likelihood is that the choice of cars left won’t match your expectations, putting a downer on your holiday before it’s even begun.
Advance booking is always cheaper than simply turning up and hoping for the best. Let’s say you’re going to Ibiza from 10th August – 17th August and have chosen a ‘Group B’ (economy) car. If you paid today, just over 2 months earlier, you would pay a total of £382.53 or £54.65 per day. However, if you opted to pay on collection, you would pay a total of £439.91 or £62.84 per day - £57.38 more.*
Similar research by MoneySavingExpert.com found that if you travel to Tenerife and booked earlier in the year (March 10th 2015), you could end up paying over 50% less (£64 per week or £9 per day) than if you opted to pay on collection (£145 per week or £21 per day).
Use a price comparison website
When it comes to comparing the market for things like; flights, accommodation, car insurance and car specs (thanks to our innovative tool), you probably do it all the time - so why not compare car hire?
Many of the top comparison services will check the price and availability from all of the leading car hire brands, helping you save £100s and allowing a little bit extra to spend on yourself.
We’ve used one of the leading price comparison websites to compare car hire on the same dates, location and car type we used earlier in the article (10th August – 17th August, Ibiza, economy). The lowest price we found was £224.86 or £32.12 per day – that’s a huge saving of over £150!**
Smallest may not always be cheapest
On most occasions, the cheapest car is likely to be the ‘Group A’ or Mini Economy models. That said, this isn’t always the case. For the sake of a few extra minutes, spending a bit more time comparing different classes of vehicles could end up saving you money.
Beware of fuel policy charges
‘Fuel Empty’ policies are now becoming remarkably common and involves you paying for a full tank of fuel upfront, then returning it empty. Whilst this may seem great, the chances of you using exactly one tank of fuel is slim, so you’ll end up losing out by giving the car back with fuel in.
The best option is to choose the ‘return as you found it’ option where you only pay for the fuel you use.
Buy the basic package only
When you rent a car, the price normally includes insurance cover for a serious accident and write-off, but you will have to foot the bill for any excess stated.
Car hire firms make the majority of their profits by selling their unsuspecting customers expensive add-ons. This tends to include pressure to buy collision damage waiver (CDW) which essentially insures your excess in the event of an accident.
When you purchase excess insurance, it’s often cheaper to compare prices online, as they can be as low as £5 per day in some instances. If you buy the insurance from the car rental company, expect to pay significantly higher.
To avoid paying over the odds and to ensure you’re properly covered, compare prices and purchase car hire excess insurance before your trip.
Bring your own satnav and child car seats
If you need satnav to get you from the airport to your hotel or villa, pack your own. Whilst an increasing number of cars now have satnav built in, it’s always better to be prepared. Charges for a week’s satnav rental in Spain can be over £80*** and if you don’t have your own, you’ll be able to find one cheaper on Amazon or eBay.
If you’re taking your baby or toddler on holiday, be prepared for hefty charges for child car seat rental - we’ve seen prices of over £60 for a week in Malaga***. It’s worth checking with your airline as to how much extra they will charge you to bring your own. Low cost airlines, will usually charge a fee each way, but this can be substantially lower than the cost of rental.
Driving licence counterpart changes: How it affects hiring a car abroad
Motoring Lawyer, Alison Ashworth, explains how the changes could affect you.
On 08 June 2015, the counterpart driving licence, required to hire a car abroad was abolished. Car hire companies who wish to assess your driving records will need to check via the DVLAs new online “share driving licence service”. You will need to log onto the DVLA website to obtain a single use access code – which is only valid for 72 hours.
Our top 3 tips for hiring a car abroad this summer after the counterpart licence abolishment:
- Contact the company in advance to ask what evidence they require in light of the changes
- Take the counterpart with you (it’s always best to be prepared for the possibility of staff on the ground being unaware of the changes)
- Log onto the DVLA “View Driving Licence” service at www.gov.uk/view-driving-licence to generate your unique code
*Prices given on 08/06/2015 from Avis.co.uk at Ibiza Airport
**Prices given on 08/06/2015 from Opodo.co.uk at Ibiza Airport
***Prices given on 10/06/2015 from Europcar.co.uk at Malaga Airport for an Economy vehicle.