Car rental in Europe and all over the world – all the nuances, secrets and rules

Rent a car abroad: tips on booking a car

Renting a car for a trip abroad is available almost anywhere in the world. To travel by car means not to be limited by public transport routes and not to tie your plans to the work schedule of trains and buses, to travel in comfort at a comfortable pace. In order that the auto-trip went well, it is important to choose a rental company and a car model correctly, to know the nuances of accepting and returning the rented car, and to react properly to emergencies on the road.

How to rent a car abroad: step by step instructions

Before planning a vacation on wheels, find out what you need to rent a car in Europe.

Driving license. In some countries you can drive a car with a Ukrainian/Russian driver’s license of modern standard, in other countries – only with an international driver’s license. Ideally, you should obtain an international driving license for travelling anywhere, since you may have problems in case of an accident without it. You should have two documents with you, because an international license without a national one is invalid.

Driver’s age. Often, to rent a car give the driver reached 20-21 years old, in some countries the car can be rented from 19 years old, in others only from 22-23 years old. Many car rent companies make an extra payment if the driver is younger than 25 years old. The minimum driving experience for car rent in Europe is 1 year, and usually it is 2-3.

Sample International Driver's License

A sample of international driver’s license

Step 1: Where is the best place to rent a car?

If you need a personal vehicle on arrival or in the middle of a vacation, be prepared for a limited choice of models and long lines at the airport – there are usually many people who want to take a car on the spot, and the best price offers are sold out immediately. It is better to give preference to international rental companies, rather than local ones: Europcar, Hertz, Dollar, Thrifty, Sixt, and others. Smaller companies often offer better prices, but their car fleet is worse, and there is a risk to run into “cheaters,” while the international ones value their reputation.

Renting a car in Europe on the spot is an option for last resort. It is better to take care of this in advance by booking transport before the trip. Instead of searching and booking directly on the rental company websites you can use an aggregator website, as it is convenient to look through and compare offers. For example, on rentalcars there are 900 companies in 160 countries, and the cost of car rental abroad through the aggregator is less than directly.

Important: Book a car at least a week before departure, better 2 or 3 weeks in advance, especially if you need a budget model. Early reservations often provide discounts. Make the reservation for the one who will drive. You will have to pay extra to register a second driver.

How to Rent a Car, Tips for the Tourist

Screenshot from Rental-cars.com

Step 2: How to choose the best car for traveling

What should be the best car for traveling depends on the intended route. For a trip to the old European cities is worth choosing a compact – it is easier to park, it is more convenient to maneuver the narrow historic streets. If the plan is to conquer the mountain roads, you need a powerful model with high ground clearance – a crossover or a full SUV. For a big company consider a minivan – it will solve the problem of all passengers and luggage accommodation. Also, you need to determine the type of transmission: in European countries, the number of cars with an automatic in the rental is limited, and their cost is much higher. In North America, by contrast, it is more difficult to find a “manual.

The subtleties of renting a car in Europe and in the world. Most companies do not give out a specific model booked, but a similar one. The cost, class, transmission and equipment must be similar.

Step 3: What is included in the rental price. Payment and types of insurance

Bulgaria, Greece, Spain and other European countries offer quite affordable prices – from 10-20 € per day. However, this is not a true indicator of how much it costs to rent a car in Europe. Car rentals indicate the base cost. It always includes insurance against traffic accidents (CDW) and third party liability (TPL), and often, but not always – against theft (TP). Basic insurance always includes a deductible and a deposit. Excess is a fixed maximum amount (from 200 to 3,000 €), which the driver pays in case of damage or theft of the car, and the deposit – a cash deposit, which is blocked on the tenant’s card to guarantee payment of the franchise, fines for traffic violations, etc. The amount of the deposit is usually equal to the deductible, the smaller the amount, the better (a good option is 200-300 €). The money on the card will be unfrozen after returning the car within a month.

Please note. To block the deposit you need a credit card or named debit card without Debit. The card must be in the name of the primary registered driver. To avoid having to part with your personal money for a while, it is better to use credit on a card with a long grace period. Before you travel, make sure that the credit limit is greater than the required deposit, and according to the terms of your bank you can use credit funds abroad, otherwise the car will not be given.

So you don’t have to worry about every scratch and subsequent expenses, you can take out full automobile insurance coverage abroad (Super CDW, FDW). As a rule it is without deductible, and the deposit is considerably reduced (up to 100 euros and below) or is absent. However such insurance quite often costs as much as the lease itself – about 15-25 € per day. At the same time it does not cover damage caused by damage of mirrors, glasses, wheels, headlights. For this purpose it is necessary to make insurance WWI/WUG.

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Car rental agreement sample

A sample contract for car rent

In addition they take the payment for the young driver, the second driver, the car rent in another place, the increase of the mileage, the rent of the equipment (a child’s auto seat, a navigator, etc.). Full cost is declared on a place. If you are not satisfied with it, check it; maybe you can refuse from some options, or on the contrary, you are missing something. If you are going to pay in cash, you should ask for proof of payment.

Step 4: What should you consider before arranging a car rental abroad?

Come to pick up your car on time. The time and place of delivery are listed on the electronic voucher confirmation. If you are more than an hour late, the reservation is cancelled, but the rental fee may still be charged. If you can not pick up the car, be sure to cancel the reservation. It may be done for free or with the deduction of a fee.

Study the contract carefully. Pay attention to whether there are any mileage restrictions, whether it is possible to drive outside the city/region/country, what kind of fuel to use and what tank (full/empty) to return it with, and whether smoking is allowed inside. The renter should give contacts for communication and inform the client what to do if the car breaks down or is involved in an accident abroad.

Inspect and check the car. An employee of the company should issue an inspection sheet that notes all existing damage. If you find any scratches or dents that are not described on the checklist, report it and put it on the list. Take a picture or video of all the nuances. Check serviceability of brakes and headlights, condition of tires, availability of a spare tire and emergency equipment.

You need to have your vehicle inspected by an inspector.

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The inspection, contracting and payment procedure usually takes about half an hour. If you are not satisfied with the technical condition of the offered car, request a replacement. After the formalities do not hurry far from the office of the lessor, drive around to find out any possible problems with the car.

Step 5: How to return the car?

Make sure the interior is tidy. Collect the trash, do not forget personal items in the glove compartment, under the seat. The conditions of renting a car from some car rental companies include washing the car before you rent it.

Filling the tank. The contract must necessarily spell out whether the car is issued filled up or not, and how it should be handed over. If the option “full-filled” is indicated, it is necessary to fill up not earlier than 50 km before the point of rent. If it is marked as “empty-empty” but you didn’t have time to roll out the fuel, the money for it won’t be returned.

The place of return. It is not always necessary to give the car back where you took it. Many firms offer a service “One-Way Car Rental” (Oneway) – return the vehicle in another city (less often in another country). It is convenient if one does not want to go on the same route twice. The option is paid, you must order it when booking.

How to travel by car

Return time. Payment for the rent is charged for each day from the date of the contract. If you are late even for 10-20 minutes, you can be charged the daily rental fee! A surcharge is also due for the night rent of the car.

The procedure of accepting. The newer and more expensive is the car, the more meticulous will be its examination. But it will take about 10 minutes to return a budget used car. At the end you should get an acceptance report and an invoice, which confirm the absence of claims against the tenant. Keep the documents in case a dispute arises.

Car accident abroad: what to do?

In the event of an accident of any magnitude, call the police and the rental company. Stay at the scene of the accident abroad until the arrival of law enforcement officers. What to do afterwards, should tell in detail the employee of the rental company – it all depends on the specific case. Do not forget to put a sign of an emergency stop, call an ambulance if there are victims. Until the arrival of the police do not move the car, even when it interferes with the passage of other vehicles! If the accident was the fault of the other driver, and he tries to negotiate on the spot, insist on the intervention of the police. Take photos and/or video of the accident scene, take pictures or make copies of all documents related to the execution of the accident.

Important: An accident with a rental car can incur major costs, even when you have taken out full insurance while renting a car abroad. National driver’s license instead of the required ID card, drunk driver, violation of traffic rules, and leaving the country are the main reasons for canceling the insurance. It also does not work if at the moment of an accident the driver was not specified in the rental agreement.

Peculiarities of car rent in different countries

Helen Soromitko

Helen Soromitko Author of the article

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Where is better and cheaper to rent a car in Europe?

Travelling around Europe by rented car has many advantages. You plan your own route and time, you can change your driving direction at any moment, you choose your own resting places. It is quite simple to choose an inexpensive car rental in Europe.

Practical advice about renting cars in Europe

Travel by car is much more comfortable and interesting than by sightseeing buses and trains. For those who do not accept the rest of the “strict regime” with a planned by someone departure time, places of stops and objects worthy of study, car rental is the ideal solution. A company of like-minded people who decided to drive around the country in a rental car will save a decent amount of money.

Many people do not even think about renting a car abroad, as they are sure that this service is expensive. We argue that with proper planning this way of traveling will be budget-friendly. First, choose the class of the car, the cheapest cars are class A. Rental companies set their own prices, but most operators adhere to the following classification:

  • Economy (Fiat Panda, Toyota Yaris)
  • Family (Ford Focus, VW Passat, Alfa 147)
  • Estate (VW Passat SW, Nissan Qashqai)
  • People carriers (Fiat Ducato)
  • Sport (Ferrari, Porsche)

Documents

The rent services of different countries have their own requirements for the documents:

  • The age of the driver – older than 21 years.
  • The international driving license.
  • A bank card valid in the international payment system.

You can check the list of requirements on the site of your particular company.

Who to rent from

You can choose between major international and local companies.

  • International services: Avis, Sixt, Advantage, Budget, Thrifty, Europcar.
  • Discount companies: Easycar, GoldCar, etc.
  • Or, compare prices in all systems at once at RentalCars.com.

You can save a lot of money renting from a discount company, but there are some serious and unexpected complications. For example, you may be charged €20 for unwashed car at the time of return, and prices can go up several times when there is an increased demand for cars.

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The most famous discounter is Easeur, which has more than 2,000 rentals in almost all European countries. The popularity of this company is due to attractive prices – you can pick up a car for €25 per day. You should read the contract carefully before signing, especially the small print – it often contains a lot of interesting information about additional services without which you can do without.

The price range of large companies can be large, but in any case the rent will cost you 25% more than that of a discounter. It is impossible not to recognize the advantages of such companies – you will get a new car with round-the-clock support, and you can return the car at any of the many rental locations within the country.

How to book

  • Go to RentalCars.com and compare the prices of rental cars at once in all services and companies.
  • The intermediary between the company and the consumer is aggregator services, which receive a commission for their services. The price of the aggregator and the company may be higher or lower, so when you choose a car, check the price on the website of the company, perhaps it is more advantageous for you to rent a car directly from them.
  • Start booking as early as possible.
  • The price varies depending on the length of the rental period and it should be at least a week. A three day rental costs €100 and a one week rental costs €170, for example.
  • Another way to save money is to return the car to the same place you rented it.
  • Rentacars never guarantee that you will get the car you have chosen from the photo – you will get the same class of car.
  • Pay attention to the additions in the contract, they can significantly change the terms of the lease. For example, the contract may contain a limited mileage condition, which means that you will have to pay extra for each kilometer over the limit. Also, additional options may include a note about a full tank of gas when you return the car, the age of the driver, or a child safety seat, which must be paid for separately.
  • When inspecting the car, assess the condition of the rubber, interior, and the level of gasoline in the tank. Remarks should be recorded in the report, otherwise you risk paying for all the shortcomings when returning the car.

Insurance

Read the terms of insurance before you book. Particular attention should be paid to the deductible limiting your liability. The lower the deductible, the better – in case of an accident or car breakdown, your compensation will be less.

  • Fixed deductible. This insurance is called a CDW (Collision Damage Waiver). Your liability cannot exceed a certain amount specified in the contract. With large companies, the deductible may be up to €800.
  • Zero deductible (Super Collision Damage Waiver). Ideal option – in case of a breakdown you do not owe anything.
  • Limited Liability Theft Protection (TP).
  • Personal Accident Insurance (Personal Accident Insurance). A type of health insurance that is only valid if you are injured while in or out of the car.

How to return a car

You can surrender your car at the airport, which should have a Car Return sign in the driveway. Find the right company’s parking lot and talk to an employee, who should check the condition of the car and the level of gas in the tank. Try to be present during the inspection and filling out the surrender document. If there are no claims, you will be given the appropriate document, which it is recommended to keep along with receipts and insurance policy for a month.

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If you turn in your car after hours, leave it in the parking lot and put your keys and documents in the special box. Take a picture of the car so that you can recognize the place, number, and date.

How to save money

Work out your route carefully – rental costs depend on the starting country. The minimum prices in European countries vary, we have chosen the rates for small cars in the most visited cities for 10 days.

The cheapest car will cost in Rome, Cyprus, Tenerife and Barcelona. The most expensive cities are Geneva, Vienna and Nice. But you can cross the borders by the car rented in Germany, France or Austria, and you will be allowed to drive only in Italy and Spain.

Transparent borders between:

  • Andorra
  • Belgium
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Germany
  • Liechtenstein
  • Luxembourg
  • Monaco
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom

It is almost impossible to leave Eastern European countries by rented car, but if you have a great desire and persistence you can find a company that allows you to travel abroad.

An additional cost option – GPS. In practice, any smartphone will replace this device, if you install the appropriate application in advance.

A car with an automatic transmission will cost you 20% more.

The rules of the road in Europe are strictly enforced, and their violation entails substantial fines. You can save a lot of money if you study the local laws. Remember that all roads are recorded on video, and do not indulge in illusions of impunity. For example, an incorrect transport of children costs €200 in Spain, €60 in Germany and €80 in Greece. In the United Kingdom the fine for repeated violation of rules will make 500 pounds (about 50 thousand rubles).

The British strictness seems to be not the biggest evil when you come across the liberty reigning on the Italian and Greek roads, where the passage through the red light in the absence of pedestrians is not considered even a small sin.

Parking lots in large cities are always jammed and the price per hour is about €2 and the traffic is so dense that you will spend too much time moving from one monument to another. It is more convenient to travel around the city by public transport and leave the car in a parking lot away from the historic center.

Some helpful hints

  • Travel by car with company – breaking the bill will save you money and allow you to socialize along the way.
  • When accepting the car, carefully inspect it and compare the existing damage (scratches, dents) with that specified in the contract.
  • When returning the car, make sure that there is no further damage. If the car is rented with a limited mileage condition, pay attention to the figures written by the company’s employee.
  • The contract usually offers options: get and return with a full tank and buy a full tank/return with leftovers. The first option is always more advantageous.

We recommend checking out our tips for finding cheap airfare and comparing hotel prices around the world.

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