5 top tips for Holiday Car Hire

Do you find hiring a car for your holiday a little bit confusing when it comes to the costs? Here are our top tips based on our experience of hiring a car in Portugal…

Don’t get sucked in to paying additional insurance!

You shop around, find a good deal, click to reserve, then you see this:

Damage Excess: 1,300.00€

Theft Protection Excess: 1,300.00€

How much?!?! No one wants to have an excess that steep do they? So this is where the car hire companies lure you into buying their ‘vehicle cover’ to either reduce or remove the excess. One car hire company wanted a further £128 from us for 7 days hire…no thanks!

BUT there is another option – you can buy something called ‘Car Hire Excess Insurance’. We read about it on the Money Saving Expert website. This insurance is a fraction of the cost of what the rental companies offer, and it protects you from having to pay any excess if you either damage the car or if it’s stolen.

We took out a policy with ‘Leisure Guard Vehicle‘ and it cost us a whopping £14.40. Bargain. Thankfully we didn’t have to use it, but if we did, we had the peace of mind that we wouldn’t be up to €1300 out of pocket. (Note that you normally have to shell out the excess upfront before having it paid back by your Car Hire Excess Insurance company)

Look out for second driver hidden costs

When we were searching for a car to hire from Porto Airport, a LOT of the major websites didn’t automatically include a second driver. That means you can expect to pay an additional fee for the privilege of sharing the driving with someone. Our additional driver fee with Budget was close to €10 per day. Make sure you factor in this cost if you want more than one of you to drive!

Don’t be afraid to ask for a free upgrade – you could be pleasantly surprised! – The MahoJos

Before you drive away, inspect the car thoroughly

It’s essential to inspect the car for any damage before you drive it away. Common sense right? But when you get off the plane, you’re tired and raring to start your holiday, it can be easy to overlook the importance of this part. Take your time, and take pictures and video of the vehicle as a back up for when you return it at a later date. Don’t drive away until you’re 100% sure the car is fine, and that any damage is recorded clearly on the paperwork.

Beware of limited mileage and no breakdown cover!

Not all car hire companies let you drive as many miles as you like – some cap the mileage. This is another thing to look out for, especially if you plan to rack up the miles on your holiday.

Also, not all car rental companies offer a breakdown policy as standard. Check before you buy. The last thing you need is being stuck on the side of the road having to figure out what ‘recovery truck’ is in another language.

Ask for a free upgrade!

When you arrive to pick up your car, don’t be shy in asking for a free upgrade! On our most recent trip, we were offered a free upgrade even before we asked. Instead of scooting around in a little Clio, we were treated to a Renault Kadjar. It felt like a lovely treat to get a better car than what we paid for, so make sure you ask!

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