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Last minute car hire cheaper than booking in advance

Written by: Lynn Kabagenyi
Travellers may think they'll bag a better deal when booking car hire in advance. But this year, holidaymakers are seeing lower prices for summer bookings when buying last minute.

The average weekly car hire price for summer has fallen from £578 if booked in January to £518 if booked now.

This represents a 10% saving (£60), according to research which was based on these four factors:

  • A medium rental car, such as a VW Golf or Ford Focus
  • A week’s rental from 29 July to 5 August 2023
  • Seven destinations: Barcelona, Crete, Dalaman, Dubrovnik, Faro, Milan and Nice
  • Six rental companies: Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Europcar, Hertz and Sixt.

Barcelona saw the biggest saving for last minute bookings. Back in January, it cost an average of £590 to book for the week in summer. But now, it comes in at £434 – a £154 (26%) saving.

Meanwhile, the same booking in Faro cost £657 in January, but £517 when revisited in May. That’s a £140 or 21% saving.

Compared to last year, car hire prices spiked in the run up to the summer holidays.

The car hire excess insurance firm revealed that between February and May 2022, travellers saved around £120 if they booked earlier, compared to the £660 price tag if booked later.

However, this year’s rental prices are still significantly higher than in 2019, when the average price if booked in May came to £358, though they’re down around £142 compared to last year.

The only exceptions for 2023 are Dalaman and Milan where it is more expensive than last year, but lower than the quotes obtained earlier in February.

What about car hire during May half-term?

A separate study by revealed that anyone looking to go away and book car hire this half term will pay less than last year.

The average cost for a week’s car hire in Europe stands at £280, down on the £340 recorded in 2022, but they are 43% higher (£199) than in 2019.

Average weekly car rental rates (27 May – 3 June) in 2023 range from £164 in Tenerife (£187 in 2022), £243 in Larnaca (£257 in 2022), £271 in Faro (£359 in 2022), £309 in Barcelona (£414 in 2022) to £431 in Nice (£504 in 2022).

However, car hire extra such as adding an additional driver, a car seat, sat nav and excess waiver insurance has risen 11% in the last 12 months.

Cancel and switch to save (if you can)

Ernesto Suarez, founder and CEO of, said: “It’s great to see prices coming down as we get nearer to the summer holidays. If you’ve already booked your hire car, check your cancellation policy, as you may be able to switch to a better deal at no charge.

“Prices may continue to fall, but they may also increase particularly if demand outstrips the supply of cars in popular destinations. Therefore, it’s a good idea to secure the hire car you want as soon as possible but use a company which offers 48-hour free cancellation, so you have the option of changing if you find a better value deal nearer to your departure.”

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