Car hire – How to save a fortune when renting a car

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Hiring a car can be a stressful process and it can be difficult to know what option to go with, with so much choice out there.

There are a lot of different factors to consider when renting a car to enable you to get a good deal.

Everything from the time you book it to the fuel type and the model vehicle you have all influence the overall price.

The team of experts at Rentalcars.com have compiled a list of their most useful hacks to help you keep costs to a minimum.

1. Know the cheapest time to book

The best way to keep costs at a minimum when purchasing a rental car is by booking between three and six months before your trip. Doing that will ensure that you get the make and model of car you want and you are unlikely to be stung by the last minute price surge.

There is a common myth that the further in advance you book, the more money you will save, however, this is not strictly true. It’s unlikely that companies will know their expected sales for a particular time of the year so far ahead, therefore prices will be higher as they won’t account for price changes if, for example, they decide to reduce prices to attract more customers.

2. Be flexible with your pick-up and drop-off times

Pick-up and drop-off times can significantly impact the price of your rental. Cars are rented out in 24-hour ‘blocks’ meaning that a 25-hour rental will cost the same a two day one. You should keep your eye on the time when planning the drop-off and return time for your car to ensure that you aren’t incurring an extra day’s worth of charges.

3. Look out for reduced prices during your free cancellation period

If you see a cheaper deal after you’ve already booked, many car hire companies offer a ‘free cancellation’ service if you cancel your booking ahead of your pick-up date. The period of time differs between rental companies so you should make sure you check the terms and conditions before you go ahead and book. If you are eligible you should be able to cancel your existing booking and take advantage of a reduced offer.

4. Understand your fuel options

One type of rental policy is a ‘Full to Full’ which means that the driver replaces only the fuel that they use. For example, if the car came with a full tank you should fill it back up to the top before returning. This is said to be the most cost-effective option.

If you opt for ‘Full to Empty’ or one of the ‘pre-purchase’ options, you will be charged for the fuel that is in the tank when you pick the car up. When you drop the car off, you should make sure that the tank is as empty as possible. Warning: this is often difficult to determine and can lead to customers being caught out and giving away the fuel that they paid for.

5. Decide on a designated driver

Car hire will be cheaper if only one person is listed as the driver, provided they are happy to be at the wheel during the entirety of your trip. For most car hire companies, the charge to add an additional driver is £10 per day but can be higher if the driver is younger than 25. If you would prefer to spread the driving time, be sure to check for ‘free additional driver’ deals when booking.

6. Don’t hang your hat on the car model

Your vehicle choice will be based on a group of similar cars, which is why you’ll see the phrase ‘or similar’ on the booking website. Even though there will be a picture of a specific car next to each option, you will be allocated a car that fits that particular category. So as long as you choose the minimum level of car that you’re happy to drive, you can ask for a change of car, depending on what’s available, or an upgrade at the pick-up desk – which can sometimes be free of charge if you’re lucky!

7. Look further than the closest rental counter

Car hire counters within an airport terminal may seem extremely convenient, but they are often the priciest. Most major cities and holiday destinations will offer several pick-up counter options, some of which might even have free transport from the airport to the counter. If you’re looking to keep costs down, it pays to do the research and explore all of your options.

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