Renting a car abroad can be a daunting task, especially when you have never done it before and have no idea where to start. As avid travellers ourselves, we’ve put together all our past experiences with rental companies abroad to provide you with a comprehensive checklist to avoid your next rental car scam.
Before booking your rental car
- Book as soon as you have confirmed your flight tickets. Booking in advance will save you significant costs and not having to worry about transport during your holiday. Remember to always compare the final cost of your ideal rental car across different companies. The cost of adding extra drivers, young drivers, and hiring child seats can be high and varies widely so shop around.
- Make sure you have enough cash on your debit/credit card to stand a hefty deposit. Most car rental companies require a security deposit on the rental car. The deposit itself isn’t taken from the card, but blocked out until you return the car. The credit card will usually need to be in the name of the primary driver.
Before driving your rental car
- Avoid being conned into a hard sell, especially if you’ve taken out adequate insurance beforehand. The same goes for GPS systems, car seats or any other extras you might be offered. If you don’t need them, don’t take them (or bring your own).
- Remember to note all damage (including minor scratches, dents, etc.) on the car before leaving. This can be done by taking videos or photographs of the car. This applies to the interior as well. Check the spare wheel is there, inflated and undamaged. Check the car is full of fuel if it supposed to be, and record the mileage, if it’s restricted. Ensure that there will be no reason for disputes with the rental company upon returning the car by pre-empting with proof of its original condition.
- Check that your payment includes all necessary and relevant highway vignettes or toll stickers before driving away. If you enter a toll zone without the necessary vignette, you might end up incurring a larger amount than if you had just paid for one.
- Check the fuel type (which should be noted on the agreement). Putting in the wrong fuel and driving off can terminally damage the engine and is regarded as negligence and all Collision Damage Waiver cover is withdrawn.
- If you’ve paid for additional products such as GPS systems, ensure that it is working properly before driving off or you could be responsible for its damage. Minor details such as language and location sensitivity should be toggled before driving.
Returning your rental car
- Ensure that you abide by your rental car fuel policy and top up fuel if necessary.
- Take photos the car on return and keep the paperwork. Assuming you have done no damage, and have filled the paperwork up (if required), park it up and then take digital photos of each panel of the car, the wheels, the mileage, and other detailed shots before handing the keys back to the person at the desk.
- Check your credit card statement regularly for a few days after returning your car to make sure promised fuel payments and excess charges are returned and keep an eye out in later statements that no extra payments have mysteriously materialised.
- If necessary, fight any wrongful additional charges incurred. If you have bought excess protection, simply claim from the firm in question. If the claim is spurious, pass this on to them and let them sort it out. If you don’t get anywhere and know you are innocent, raise the dispute with your credit card provider.
We hope that this guide has been useful in bringing you through the necessary steps to take when renting a car abroad! Remember to abide by the driving laws overseas and always be safe on the roads. Have a good holiday!