5 Tips to Choose the Cheapest Car Rental in UK

Posted in November 23rd, 2016
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Photo by palettestudio, CC0 1.0

Car rental companies have got a bit of a bad reputation lately. If you do not know what you are doing and don’t have much experience renting cars, you could end up paying a lot more than necessary. Avoid these costly mistakes and understand what you are in for before you rent. You do not want nasty surprises you had not budgeted for when you are traveling.

The number of options available, extra charges, fuel policies and insurance can all get very confusing, especially if you are not that familiar with car rentals. It is important that you take the time to research and establish the costs and terms of the service before you book your rental. Do not leave it to the last minute, especially when you are traveling. You will probably be tired, rushed and all you want to do is get to your destination. This could lead to making quick decisions without all the facts and lead to regret later on.

Remember to shop around and look out for special offers or discounts. You will have a choice of the large international players as well as small local companies. The smaller companies might sometimes be less expensive but be sure that they have the type of vehicle you require, all the services you might need and the network to cover the areas you will travel to. If you travel often, look into car rental company loyalty programmes.

Here are 5 tips to help you choose the cheapest car rental in the UK.

1.   Fuel Policy

Some companies work on a full-to-empty fuel policy. This means you pay upfront for a full tank of petrol and return as is. Don’t think the fuel will cost the same as it would at a filling station; it is more, often a lot more.  Some companies make this policy mandatory which is something you need to be aware of.

If this policy is not in place, always return the rental car with a full tank of petrol or diesel. Again, what you pay at the pump is a lot less than the rental company will charge you. You can save a fair amount of money simply by stopping off to fill the tank on your way to drop the car off.

2.   Understand the Insurance

You need to carefully read and understand the terms and conditions of the insurance on offer. It can differ widely from one company to the next and different areas also have their own policies and practices.

Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) does not necessarily mean comprehensive car insurance as many people understand it. There are often exclusions or conditions that you need to be aware of and understand. Read the small print.

Always check with your credit card company before renting a vehicle. Very often, they offer free insurance if you pay with your credit card. Make 100% sure of what they cover but if it is decent, you can waive the extra insurance all together and benefit from the saving.

3.   Should I Use a Broker?

This is a tricky one. Like with all industries, there are good and bad brokers. Many complaints come from people that have booked their car rental through a broker or online budget rental aggregators. Remember, the contract is between you and the car rental agency, the brokers is merely a sales agent.

My best advice would be to contract directly with the rental company unless it is a well-known, established broker you can trust and there is a significant incentive for you to do that. Again, do your homework and fact checking beforehand.

4.   Is Excess Reduction Insurance Necessary in the UK?

The excess levied by car rental insurance companies are generally very high. Top-up cover is designed to protect you from these charges. With UK car leasing it is often done through a local insurer and not the car rental agency. Without the cover, claims are not only expensive but can also be time consuming and frustrating.

5.   Do Not Pay for An Upgrade

Unless you really want to for some reason, do not pay for an upgrade. It is a practice some companies use to try and squeeze more money out of you. Don’t fall for it.

Hopefully you have a safe and enjoyable trip. Use this information to ensure you get the best deal possible on your car rental in the UK.