10 Tips for Renting Cars in Europe

Renting Cars in Europe can allow you more freedom to travel and explore Europe. Here are some tips that will help you when renting cars in Europe:

1.  Arrange your car rental before leaving home. 

Prices vary depending on the time, location and even the company you are renting from. Do some research, as the cheapest car rental in one country can be the most expensive in another. For trips lasting more than three weeks, leasing is generally cheaper. 

2.  Avoid Small Companies

Most of the rental cars in Europe belong to Europcar, Avis, and Hertz, Sixt and Naitonal. It is recommended that you rent from these five. Just in case your car breaks down or you have problems on the road, you would like to be close to help. These companies have many locations all over Europe. Avis, for example, has more than 350 locations in Germany alone. 

3.  Avoid Airport Pickups

If you start your rental at an airport, you are likely to pay a tax of 14% to 20%. This is called “premium station” fee and it also applies to rail stations. Some notable exceptions are France, Spain, Ireland, the U.K. and Holland where the charges are about $35 to $80. Even though you pay for pickup at the airport, there is no extra charge for dropping off a car at a “premium station”.

4. Reconfirm Your Trip

To avoid any problems with your rental car service. Reconfirm with the company at least a day before so that you are not left stranded and waiting on a rental car that is at the wrong location.

5. Avoid Automatic Transmission

An automatic transmission in Germany can be as much as 80% more than a standard transmission. This is an extreme case but generally, automatic transmissions are at a higher price in Europe.

6. Beware of Photo Speed Traps and Restricted Driving Zones

In old-town centers, there are usually photo speed traps and restricted driving zones. No police car in sight does not mean you were not caught and you may not find out about it until many months after when you receive a letter with the charge on your credit card. Also, don't drink and drive, Europe takes its DUI laws seriously and you should too. Be Safe!

7.  Avoid Sunday Rentals

When booking your rental, check the location and hours of pickup and drop-off. Rental companies typically close on Saturday afternoons, Sundays and holidays. It may likely be that you will have to pay an expensive “premium stations” fee if you start your rental on that day.

8.  Request a Diesel

Diesel engines are no longer noisy and underpowered as they were once were and they get great mileage. The fuel is cheaper than gas in Europe and available at every service station. It’s not a guarantee that you will get one when you ask but it won’t cause any harm to ask. Also, be sure to refill the tank just before turning in the car. Rental companies in Europe are currently charging double the gas station rate if they have to refuel returned vehicles

9.  Do Not Have the Car Delivered To Your Hotel

In the past it was convenient to have rental cars delivered to your hotel as it was a free service. However, now you’ll have to pay at least $35. Also, in the case of the wrong car being delivered, you would have paid that for nothing. It’s better to go to the rental car station so that you can choose the car you would like.

10. Avoid Full-Size and Larger Cars

If you want a nicer car, then go ahead, and rent them. However, if it’s space that you seek, think twice before renting a full-size, luxury and premium category car. The price increase is substantial for a midsize vehicle to a full-size. In Germany, the base price for a midsize station wagon is $219 without tax and $477 for a full size wagon.

By Khadijah Brown

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