Common hire car pitfalls and how to avoid them

16 Mar, 2022, a leading supplier of car hire excess insurance, has compiled an essential checklist to ensure holidaymakers get the best deal on their hire car in 2022 and avoid car hire pitfalls.

Shop around and consider booking early – There is a global hire car shortage this year, and increased demand as people return to travel, so it is wise to shop around, and book early.  Use a price comparison service or car hire broker to check prices.

In Nice, this summer there is almost £300 difference in the weekly hire cost from two leading rental companies (Hertz £749, whilst Europcar is £451) according to’s* study of European car hire costs.

Check location – When booking make sure you aren’t booking from a company at the airport, or near a railway station if you can help it, as these are often more expensive.

Don’t waste money on unnecessary extras – Make sure you take your sat nav and child car seats with you, and don’t have an extra driver on the policy unless you really need to. These extras, if bought from the rental desk, can add hundreds to the overall cost.

The study found that this summer an extra driver costs on average £57, but is £81 with Hertz in Barcelona. Sat Navs cost on average £71, but are £108 with Europcar in Nice, and child car seats cost on average £57, but are £87 with Budget in Munich.

Excess Insurance – Drivers are liable for the excess amount if a hire car is damaged or stolen, which can be up to £2,000. Excess insurance is important so you don’t spend your holiday worrying if the car might get damaged, but consider buying it advance from a standalone provider, like, which is normally considerably cheaper and usually offers more comprehensive cover.


Many hire car companies offer two policies, Super Damage Waiver (£126 on average) and Tyre and Windscreen cover (£36 on average) totalling over £160 week. This is nearly six times more expensive than a policy from a specialist excess insurance provider, like, which charges only £27.96 for a week’s policy (or £3.49 a day*), and which covers damage, theft, as well as tyre and windscreen cover.”

Use a credit card – Use your credit card when booking your hire car to gain Section 75 protection. This means the credit card provider will protect purchases over £100, meaning you could get you money back if there is a problem.

Check the fuel policy – Make sure you know the fuel policy before you drive away. If you need to return it with a full tank, make sure you do, as the penalties can be expensive.

Mileage restrictions – If you are planning a driving holiday make sure you check for any mileage restrictions so you don’t get caught out.

Check the Vehicle for Damage and Take Photographic Evidence – To avoid unfair damage charges, car hirers should check vehicles thoroughly at pick-up and return, and take photos.’s free travel app for travellers, called ‘iCarhire’, takes date and time stamped photographs which can then be used as evidence in the event of a dispute or claim.

  1. Complain to relevant association – In the event of a dispute with a car rental company in Europe, contact The European Car Rental Conciliation Service (ECRCS), but it will only deal with complaints about member companies (usually the larger operators). Also, you do need to have booked direct with the car hire company. In the UK, contact the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) who again can assist with complaints about its members.


  1. Clean the car – Anecdotally there are increasing reports of car hirers being fined for returning dirty cars. Try to keep the car in as clean a state as possible and take away rubbish and excess dirt.

Ernesto Suarez, CEO and founder of, said: “Foreign travel is returning and the demand for hire cars is going to be high this summer. However, one of the knock-on effects of the pandemic is a shortfall of hire cars which means it’s more important than ever to shop around, book early and save money on the any extras where you can.”