Finding low cost car hire

Last Modified 16th of February 2021

There is little doubt that for many people, economy is a prime consideration when choosing a car rental solution.

However, there are a few things you may be able to do that could reduce your costs even further:

Plan ahead

True, this isn’t always possible but when it is, you should do so and start shopping around for cost-effective solutions well in advance.  The reason is that you will have more time and that means you will be able to compare more offers against each other.

Think about personal excess waiver insurance

Basically, in much of Europe (though not necessarily in the USA and elsewhere) your car rental deal will typically come with insurance included in the price but it may carry a hefty excess of possibly up to £2,000.  Some car hire companies may offer you additional insurance cover to reduce that, which is fair enough, but you may be able to find considerably lower-cost excess protection insurance on the open insurance market.

Avoid high-risk drivers

High-risk in this context means those that may make the hire company’s insurance provider nervous, which in turn may push your costs up considerably. So, think twice about ensuring second drivers who are very young, inexperienced or who have motoring convictions.

Consider hire car consolidation websites

They may be able to skim across a large number of major car rental companies and look for any special deals and offers that are available at a given time.  It might save you quite a lot of time in trying to do the same yourself and identify deals that you wouldn’t even have known were available.

Look for airport rentals that are not priced-based on their location

Some hire companies may charge large extra amounts for cars collected from or delivered back to airports, which they would not do if you were using one of their city-centre locations.

Accurately estimate your car size requirements

Sometimes selecting the smallest and cheapest car you can, might prove to be something of a fiasco if upon arrival you cannot get your passengers and luggage into the vehicle comfortably.  Yes, you may be able to upgrade but that might come at a premium price if you have not pre-booked.

Select inclusive deals

There is no all-embracing definition here but some deals may include things like breakdown insurance, excess cover, unlimited mileage charges and so on, whereas others might make some or all of these additionally charged items.  However, do your mathematics carefully because sometimes certain individually priced item deals might work out paradoxically to be more cost-effective than some supposedly all-inclusive deals.

Think about account status

Some rental hire providers might offer special terms for people who rent from them regularly and who have some form of customer account or regular customer status.  Of course, don’t be deceived by things like free key rings and nebulous priority check-in benefits in such cases but look instead for real tangible financial benefits that you would not be able to get as a regular status customer.

A little forethought and planning, plus a bit of research either on your part or through a site that does it for you, might result in some substantial savings on your car hire costs.