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Top 10 tips to save over £800 on a week’s car hire

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Hiring a car should be a simple process, but for many it’s fraught with surprise extra costs at the rental desk which can lead drivers seeing red. Here are 10 tips to help you save money.

The rules of supply and demand mean that hiring a car over the summer months can set drivers back on cost. But car hire excess provider, iCarhireinsurance has come up with a ‘car hire hit list 2018’ giving 10 top tips to help you save hundreds of pounds.

Ernesto Suarez, founder and CEO, iCarhireinsurance, said: When hiring a car the headline price is often not the amount you end up paying, particularly when the prices for extras are not available until you get to the rental desk. Our ‘hit list’ will help drivers get the best deal and avoid any car hire pitfalls this summer.”

The following tips are based on hiring a compact family car for a week:

1) Book early

Holidaymakers saved on average £100 if they booked their summer hire car in February instead of waiting until June. Last minute deals do exist but to guarantee a good price, and the car you want, start looking as soon as you can.

2) Use price comparison sites

The price charged by car hire companies varies significantly so always shop around to make sure you get the best deal – you could save £200. For example, a week’s car hire (28 July – 4 Aug 2018) in Dubrovnik costs £414 with Europcar but £193 with Sixt. In Milan, the same week sees Hertz charge £491 while Enterprise charges £259.

3) Get the right sized car

If you’re unable to fit in all your belongings, it could cost you more than £100 to upgrade to a bigger car. Booking a compact car to pick up from Alicante airport for a week in Aug 2016 cost £233 if booked in advance, but if you need a Ford C-Max, which can carry three large suitcases and two small cases, on arrival, you would pay £456 at the location, compared with £314 if you’d booked it online in the first place (£140 saving).

4) Shop around for excess insurance

If your hire car is stolen or damaged, even if it’s not your fault, you’re liable for the excess which can be as much as £2,000. Hire car companies charge on average £30 a day for combined super excess insurance/waiver to protect drivers from this. They also sell individual policies such as super damage waiver and super theft waiver for those who don’t want full cover. But you can buy a standalone policy from £2.99 a day, saving around £180.

5) Take a spare credit card

If you don’t buy the car hire company’s excess/waiver policy, it will often insist the excess is held on a credit card until the car is returned undamaged. Take a spare credit card with you, as having £2,000 held on your one credit card could seriously limit your holiday spending.

6) Protect your tyres and windscreen

Often rental desks’ excess policies exclude damage to windows, tyres and undercarriage. Instead, they sell separate tyres and windscreen excess policies for around £36 a week. Check if this is included in your standalone excess cover.

7) Do you need a satnav?

It can cost over £70 to hire one for a week. If you have a detachable satnav at home, it is normally cheaper to upgrade to European mapping and take it with you or consider getting a satnav app for your smart phone.

8) Car seat hire for kids

A child seat can cost around £57 for the week. But many airlines will take car seats in the hold for free, so consider taking yours with you.

9) Sharing the driving increases the costs

Adding a named driver to your rental agreement could cost around £8 per day and if the driver is under 25 this adds on an average £15 a day. If one of you is going to do 90% of the driving is it really worth the extra cost?

10) Check the exchange rate

Some companies let you pay for your extras when you book your hire car, but others cannot be paid for until you arrive at your destination. Changes in the value of the pound against the euro can make a big difference in price so keep this in mind when making your booking. With the average cost of extras totalling £430, a 10% change in the value of the pound against the euro can add or remove £43 from your bill.

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