A hire car
picked up at the arrival airport can give you a huge amount of freedom. Here are our general tips:
- Don't book your hire car through the airline you travelled with -- this is almost certainly the most expensive option, and you also risk having to wait longer at the car hire desk as you queue with other passengers who have done the same thing.
- Always shop around extensively for car hire options -- car hire can be far more competitive than flights. Consider that on many routes from UK airports, you will only actually find one airline that can take you where you want to go when you want to go, whereas even the smallest airports usually have at least three car rental desks.
- Check other options - Even at airports with few car hire desks, prices can still vary a huge deal between online booking agencies, and in some cases it might be cheaper to book with a company away from the airport - although city centre car hire is usually more expensive.
- Loyalty isn't always rewarded - Sometimes you may have loyalty rewards with one particular provider, but just as low-cost airlines can provide a cheaper base price than travelling with airline reward credits, it may be cheaper to book the best deal with whichever local car hire agency is best value, rather than to collect or redeem reward points.
- Book your hire car well in advance, just like your flight, as hire prices are just as susceptible to fluctuations as the flights themselves.
- Check your insurance - Make sure you fully understand what you are and aren't covered for before picking up your hire car. Some UK car insurance policies will cover you in a hire car as well, and some travel policies will also provide cover, but most will not.
You can expect to be sold a more expensive collision damage waiver policy when you pick up a hire car -- there is no point in getting this if you are already covered.
- Do you need a car? Finally, do you actually need a hire car in the first place? In many destinations, public transport might be much better than you had actually anticipated. In Europe, there is almost always some form of public transport available, and even in the USA, options can vary a great deal from one city to the next.
Check with Car or No Car .com to see whether or not a hire car is advisable in your destination.