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How to avoid common car hire ‘traps’

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
Brits forked out nearly £500m on unexpected car hire costs last year – here’s how to avoid the simple yet pricey mistakes.

Last year UK consumers spent £475m on unforeseen car hire costs and a fifth admit they won’t rent one when abroad for fear they’ll be ripped off.

New research from price comparison site TravelSupermarket revealed that 51% are worried about hiring a car to drive abroad while 53% of those who had rented said they were overcharged.

Of those who were overcharged, the average amount paid on top of the agreed service is £116.15 and the most common car hire extra charges centre around a tank of fuel.

Some policies state you collect the car with a full tank and you need to return it empty. These customers have been stung with an average cost of £83.

In other cases, customers have been caught with charges of £98 for not returning the car with the agreed amount of fuel.

Some drivers have been stung with charges of £168 for excess mileage and others have had to fork out £80 for the vehicle to be cleaned.

At the pickup desk, some users report the ‘hard sell’ for a car upgrade and TravelSupermarket said if your car isn’t available, you should be given a better car free of charge or a smaller car where the different is refunded.

Bob Atkinson, TravelSupermarket’s travel expert, said: “Car hire is a wonderful way to really get the most out of your holiday. The right planning will not only help you get a good deal on your car hire package but will prevent you being charged for either unexpected or overpriced items at the rental station.”

Top tips to avoid car hire rip offs

While car hire firms have been told to make all fees and optional extras clearer, here are some tips to avoid being ripped off on your hols:

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