Top 10 Car Hire Tips

Written by Jonathan Pearce

27 March, 2020

Many drivers are apprehensive when it comes to renting a car, as many hire companies have a reputation for trying to catch customers out or being deliberately unclear on the rental agreement. Additional charges, unforeseen insurance costs and lacking customer service are all common complaints around car hire – but there are some surefire ways to make sure that you’re getting the most out of your rental agreement and are hiring from a reputable provider.

Whether you’re hiring a car to help you get around town or are looking for a vehicle to drive while on holiday, our blog looks at the top ten tips for successful car rental to help make your experience easier.

What is a car hire?

A car rental or car hire refers to borrowing a vehicle over a predetermined period at an agreed price from an agency or provider. Unlike leasing, car rental takes place over short periods of time – such as a couple of days or a week – and generally serves customers who need cars for holidays, may need a larger car for a particular journey, or have lost access to their usual vehicle after an accident. All in all, having a rental car is preferable for most over managing public transport or relying on taxis to get around.

When renting a car, there are some things you need to know. For example, all rental cars require insurance in order to drive on UK roads, with the policies provided within an agreement often coming with limitations. The price you’ll be quoted will vary by manufacturer, model and contract type, as well as your age, driving experience and location. It’s also crucial to read the small print at the bottom of your rental agreement before signing to ensure you’re not agreeing to any costs that you haven’t factored into your hire period.

How can I save money when renting a car?

The key to cutting the cost of car rental is preparation – avoid getting off a plane or being caught unprepared and jumping to sign the first agreement you see. Here are some of the sure-fire ways to save money on your next rental car.


  1. Book in advance. Although it’s not always possible to know when you’ll need a rental car, booking as far in advance as possible is the best way to save money. The further ahead you book, the lower the rates will be and the more time you’ll have to shop around for better deals before committing. Also, you’re more likely to get a model you want as you’re not restricted to those that are available at short notice – especially if travelling during peak season.
  2. Don’t rent at the airport. If you can help it, you should avoid renting a car from a provider at the airport. They are often subject to higher premiums, or a ‘convenience charge’, as they’ll be targeting travellers who have just landed and want a quick deal. Prices are higher at travel hubs like airports and train stations because rental companies have to pay a fee to the site where they do business, which they recuperate by charging the customer.
  3. Don’t upgrade unless it’s free. You may be tempted to upgrade the trim or engine on your hire car – particularly if the company makes out that it’s a really good deal – but try to avoid it unless you know doing so is included in the price. Similarly, if you’re offered a model upgrade because the one you wanted isn’t available and are told it’s at no additional cost, you’ll want to get that in writing to be sure.
  4. Think about the fuel. Some hire companies will provide the car with a full tank of fuel, which is convenient, but then request that it’s returned with a brimming tank. Others may even provide the car with a half-full tank and request it’s returned full. If you’re hiring from a site near a traffic-heavy area, such as an airport or train station, you should be mindful of surrounding petrol stations charging more for fuel in the knowledge that rental customers will need to purchase a full tank before returning their hire car.
  5. Confirm the rental period. With most rental agreements, you’ll be charged for the entirety of the time you have the vehicle. It’s crucial that your pickup and drop-off timings are correct, otherwise you could be penalised for being late and won’t be subject to an extension. That means if you need the car for when you get off a flight, you’ll need to be sure of the landing time (including time differences) and when you’ll be able to return it. If possible, give yourself an hour or so leeway each side.
  6. Look out for one-way fees. A one-way fee is what you pay to pick up a hire car in one place and drop it off elsewhere. Some hire companies may charge a fee to cover the cost of collecting the car and taking it back to its original location, with the price depending on whether it’s in a different city or country. You should check in the small print of the agreement as to whether this applies to your rental car.
  7. Check the insurance policy. Many rental companies may offer insurance policies that you don’t really need – whether it’s injury insurance, tyre insurance or additional cover. You should always check to see what you’re paying for and whether it’d be best to take out your own policy – while being mindful of the activities you’re likely to get up to when borrowing the car.
  8. Consider optional extras. Chances are, if you’re hiring a car, you already know what kind of optional extras you’ll need throughout the rental period – don’t be tempted to invest in more just because it seems like a good deal. Some providers often charge more for the use of things like sat nav, smartphone connectivity and wireless charging – make sure that you know what you get within the agreement and what you’ll end up paying extra for before signing.
  9. Use comparison sites. If you’re able to browse rental deals in advance, you should look at comparison sites that collate the best deals for you. However, you should also be mindful that some comparison sites have special deals with rental companies which means that they may promote them regardless of whether it’s a good deal or not.
  10. Return the car on time. If you’re late to drop off the car, according to the time and date specified on your agreement, you could be subject to penalty fees. Some companies may even charge you for the whole day, even if you were just an hour late. Make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to clean, check over and drive the car to the agreed drop-off place to avoid charges.

Overall, it’s really important to know exactly what you need from a rental car, when you’ll need it, how far in advance you can sort an agreement out, and what’s included in the small print of the agreement. Car hire can be a really convenient and cost-effective way to drive a prestigious model while on holiday or while between cars – as long as it’s done correctly.


At AMT, we’re advocates for safe and responsible rental car use and 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.