How to Save Money on Your Next Car Hire & Dodge Fees

Written by Jonathan Pearce

1 April, 2020

How to save money on car hire

When you’re hiring a car – whether it’s to help you get around on holiday or to replace your usual vehicle while it’s getting repaired – there’s nothing worse than feeling like you’ve been overcharged, or that you could have gotten a better deal elsewhere. Car hire companies are notorious for charging customers for unnecessary extras, unwanted policies or additional insurance that wasn’t obvious in the agreement, but planning ahead can reduce the odds of being taken advantage of massively.

Our blog looks at the top money-saving tips and tricks to help you cut the cost of car rental and avoid common car hire pitfalls.

Before you book

The most important thing to do when organising car hire is to start planning as far in advance as possible. A good portion of costs associated with car rental agreements are tied to punctuality so it’s crucial to know exactly when you’ll need the car from, and start looking for deals a few weeks beforehand. This gives you the chance to take advantage of early booking discounts and makes it more likely that you’ll get the model you’re looking for. Some other ways to save money on car rental before you book are:

  • Use comparison sites. Using a third-party site to compare car rental deals can be a great way to save some money, as you can input key metrics – such as duration of the rental period, ideal model and budget – and see the best deals that fit your requirements at the touch of a button. However, the choice of premium, prestige and specialist vehicles can be limited on comparison sites. It’s also important to check what each deal includes, and bear in mind that some comparison sites may be sponsored by the suppliers they’re showing you.
  • Use loyalty rewards. If you’re a frequent car renter, you should definitely look to join a loyalty rewards programme if you can – especially if you’re a business owner. Most companies will store your rental preferences and offer guaranteed vehicle availability at short notice for frequent customers, as well as offer notable discounts or rewards points that can be used to claim free upgrades.
  • Avoid unnecessary extras. Whether it’s another insurance policy, sat navs or an optional upgrade, you should always avoid additional extras unless you’re sure that you need them, or you’re offered them for free. You should also check the rental agreement thoroughly to check whether you’ll be charged for extras like going over a set mileage limit or dropping the car off at a different location than where you collect it.

Using your hire car

  • Use the cancellation period. If you see a cheaper deal after you’ve already booked, check to see if the hire company offers a free cancellation period if you cancel ahead of your pick-up date. This period of time will differ between rental companies, but it’s worth keeping in mind so you can take advantage of last-minute deals during peak travel periods.
  • Book with some flexibility. As previously mentioned, pick-up and drop-off times can significantly affect the price of your rental car. Most are rented out in 24-hour blocks, meaning that a 25-hour rental will be cost the same as a full two-day agreement. Always book with some spare time on either side to avoid being penalised for tardiness.
  • Record any damage. Before you drive away, be sure to check for any signs of damage or wear and tear on the vehicle, and ensure it’s properly recorded on the paperwork you receive from the company. Take your own photos of any damage you find and get them signed off in writing by the renter before you drive away.

Returning the hire car

  • Check for damage. Like before you took the vehicle, it’s crucial to reassess it for damage on return. Make sure to accurately record any damage or wear and tear that could have resulted from your rental period and get a signed receipt saying what damage you’ve paid for, if anything. Always get it in writing that the car’s been checked over before you drive away to prevent a company overcharging you.
  • Look for unexpected charges. If you find that any unexpected charges are taken from your card once the rental agreement ends, be sure to ask the company for an explanation and dispute it if you’re not satisfied with their reasoning. If you paid by debit card you can ask your company to reverse the payment and get the money back, and you can claim against the card provider with a credit card.

Is renting a car a good idea?

Car hire agreements often get a bad reputation due to companies overcharging customers but, all in all, car rental is a really cost-effective way to access a vehicle over a short period of time – particularly if you need it for work. One of the other benefits of car rental is the lower cost and affordability, as hire vehicles save you from having to worry about other costs like maintenance fees, depreciation and insurance. Having a hire car also gives you the freedom to travel wherever, whenever you please, which is a necessity if you work remotely or have lost access to your family car.

This freedom also means that you aren’t tied to public transport timetables and therefore can travel more comfortably with your passengers. Finally, it can be a great way for you to make a vehicle choice depending on the specific needs you have at a given time – like safety features, technology and towing capabilities – and gives you the opportunity to drive a high-performance car that you couldn’t otherwise afford to buy.

At AMT, we’re advocates for safe and responsible rental car use and we pride ourselves on providing a service that’s tailored to you. If you want to find your ideal rental car, contact our dedicated team today to discuss your requirements

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