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Last minute February half-term car hire booking cuts bill by half

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

Holidaymakers who book car hire just two days before their getaway can save an average 50% off the cost, compared with buying on arrival.

If you’re gearing up for your half-term getaway this weekend, then research reveals you can still save a tidy sum by booking car hire online just 48 hours in advance.

In fact, families can bag last minute half-term car hire from under £4 a day at selected destinations and can save up to 82% by pre-booking online rather than paying the walk-up price.

With most schools breaking up for half-term tomorrow (Friday 14 February) for a week, looking across 10 of the most popular destinations, exclusive research from TravelSupermarket reveals families can save an average 47% booking today for holidays starting on Saturday.

For example, a compact car in Malaga for eight days (Sat 15 – Sat 22 February) is available for £29.84 (£3.73 a day) for bookings today. But the same car would cost £167.83 (£20.98 a day) if purchased at the airport on arrival. That’s a saving of £138.

Hiring a compact car for pick up at Faro airport is available via TravelSupermarket for £28.13 (£3.51 per day) when booked in advance. The walk-up price for the same car type, when purchased on arrival at the airport, is £121.87 (£15.23 per day). That’s a saving of £93.74 from booking online before going on holiday.

The table below lists 10 of the most popular February half-term destinations and car hire costs booked two days in advance and on the day of arrival (click to enlarge):

Prices correct as at 13/02/20 via TravelSupermarket and Hertz.com. Price excludes card, fuel and insurance waiver fees. Price based on driver age between 25 and 75.

Emma Grimster, spokeswoman at TravelSupermarket, said savings can be big but it can mean holidaymakers receive less choice of car.

She said: “In all the destinations we researched we found it was significantly cheaper to book ahead versus turning up at the airport, even for last minute bookings just 48 hours ahead of arrival.

“However, booking in advance not only saves you money, but also ensures you secure the car type you want or need for your trip. Leaving it until last minute, particularly until arrival, means you risk car hire providers running out of your car type of choice.

“By getting organised ahead of your departure, reviewing your options and working out exactly what size and specifications you need from your hire car, you will also save time at your arrival destination when you are ready to get on with your holiday.”

Top car hire booking tips

TravelSupermarket lists the following top tips to help you save on car hire costs:

  • Book early to secure the car type you want; some car types already have limited availability for February half-term in some locations.
  • As the research has shown, buying ahead is always cheaper than walking up. Plus, by comparing prices online in advance, you may find you can afford a larger vehicle than you originally had in mind.
  • Economy cars may be cheaper than mini economy. So, search all car types, not just the smallest, in order to get the best price.
  • And don’t forget to maximise your saving by buying car hire excess insurance in advance to save even more money. You will also get better protection than policy reductions offered when you pick up your car.