Negotiating the world of foreign car hire can seem like one of the simpler things to arrange, but in reality, it can be a bit of a landmine...
One thing to remember is that in the end, the helpful clerk behind the desk is a salesman, and like any desk-sales clerk, they’re interested in upselling you beyond your initial purchase. You’ll be presented with pricier models, extra perks, extra insurance, and it’s a coin flip as to whether or not they’ll vocalise the timeframes for late fees, or just let the lengthy terms & conditions page speak for itself.
One particularly common upsell is the addition of insuring your car’s insurance excess, which means if you have to make a claim, the excess payment is also insured, essentially removing the excess entirely. This is a great idea, but unfortunately, when it's offered by the rental company, they’ll charge you a great deal for it - the common price is a ludicrous £25 per day, which nearly eliminates the point of covering excess in the first place.
However, if you purchase car hire excess insurance through Direct Car Excess ahead of time, you can get it as low as £2.90 per day. Sorted.
Even if you’ve booked ahead of time and provided all the paperwork you’ve been asked for, sometimes car hire companies will take extra time to get you your wheels. In fairness, this can sometimes be down to things out of their control, such as your choice of car being late with no alternatives available, issues with UK banks refusing to process payments abroad, or determining the legitimacy of a driving license or visa.
For whatever reason, you should anticipate the worst, and allow for plenty of processing time for your vehicle upon arrival.
Our advice is simple - your arrival day should have as few time-dependent events as possible. plan for the worst, and allow for that extra time in your schedule.
All of the worries with extra time and extra money usually result in higher stress, which is the last thing you need after hours of travel, bag checks and immigration control. Depending on your temperament, you’ll either be ready to turn a deep shade of angry red at the rental staff member over a hidden cost, or (in the more British tradition), you’ll be tutting EXTRA loud.
We can’t guarantee your trip will be completely stress free, but to help mitigate any potential problems, there is really no limit to how much you can plan for. Generally, we’d strongly recommend driving laws and signage for the country you’ll be driving in and doing a little research on travel forums about road conditions or local etiquette. It’s also worth remembering that GPS can be a big help. If you aren’t able to ensure your rental has dashboard GPS, research what sort of data limits your phone provider allows for when travelling, as you may be able to simply use an app like Google Maps or Waze for directions.
If you’re stressed on the first day of your holiday, it might feel like the whole trip is ruined, but if you’ve planned ahead to anticipate complications with paperwork and already taken steps to combat the hidden costs and preemptively taken care of your excess, then you might be able to take a deep breath, and rest assured that your careful planning has allowed for these unexpected issues.