It’s always a good idea to consider your holiday transportation. This is the only way to discover the country far away from the usual tourist routes, and perhaps to discover something special that might otherwise have eluded you. But when I first wanted to hire a car on my last vacation, I was overwhelmed. The wide range of online providers came up with fantastic offers, and of course, everything was very cheap and easy. Ultimately, however, there were a few misunderstandings at the pick-up desk, and this experience has taught me to always keep a close eye on supposed cheap deals. To spare you the same fate, here my seven tips for car hire on holiday:
1. Pay attention to the recommendation of other customers when hiring a rental car
When you book the car for your next holiday online, you should pay attention to many aspects. First and foremost when hiring a car: Read through other customer reviews of the respective rental company. Most of the time you can rely on the opinions of previous customers. The rating options on, for example, Google or Facebook, make a good first impression and can usually limit the provider choice right at the outset. Is the reputability of the provider repeatedly questioned and the contract management negatively evaluated? Don’t bother!
2. The contract for a rental car
Have you informed yourself and chosen a provider? Good. Then it’s time for a bit of hard work. It’s important now to read the contract thoroughly. The contract should cover all aspects of the hire: the included services, provisions for tank filling and additional services such as additional drivers, the deposit and how it is done, the pick-up and drop-off location, as well as the pick-up and drop-off times. Don’t let a car hire company push you into signing before you’ve had all your questions answered.
3. Free kilometres and tank control of your rental car
Those of you who can estimate approximately how much you’ll drive while on holiday should pay special attention to the “free kilometres” offered by your car hire company. For some providers, 500 kilometres per day are already included in the hire price, and each additional kilometre driven will be charged at an additional cost, payable after the car is returned. Especially on holiday, it therefore makes sense to search for vehicles without mileage limits. Usually the price is a bit higher, but if you look at the price for the extra kilometres, you quickly realise that it’s worth it. That way, you can be flexible and spontaneous on holiday without having to worry about mileage.
You should also be wary of tank control. A few years ago, car hire companies came under criticism that they had specified a “full/empty” rule in the contracts. This means that the car will have a full tank upon pick-up, but should be brought back empty. The cost of refuelling will then be charged, plus a processing fee. To protect yourself from this, you should insist on booking a “full/full” rule: in other words, you’ll refuel the car yourself before returning it. Nevertheless, you should do your best to document the fuel level before the trip, because the car only needs to be returned as full as it was when you picked it up.
4. Insurance for the rental car
Which insurance is the best value for you is really up to you. Some swear by fully comprehensive insurance, while others put their trust in good luck. With some providers, you can purchase important insurance for an additional fee. I am rather the “better too much than not enough” type, and therefore look for appropriate offers. For most, liability coverage, comprehensive insurance, and theft insurance is important. Always a good tip: Do not take offers with a deductible, because that means that you have to pay a personal contribution in case of damage. So take a look at the hiring conditions, or choose the option without deductibles directly.
5. Documentation of your rental
Finally, all contractual formalities are done, and you’re ready to start your holiday behind the wheel. A reputable provider will fill out a handover document with you, in which all previous damage and the mileage will be noted. Nevertheless, you can and should pull out your smartphone to accurately document the appearance of the car. In addition, if the tank is not completely filled, you can take a photo of the tank gauge. Be sure to check the tyres as well: they should, of course, be undamaged and have a tread depth of more than 2 milimetres.
6. Payment of the rental car
Many online providers lure customers with particularly favourable conditions, provided you book the car immediately. Most of the time it’s just a few euros, but with a tight holiday budget, these can make a big difference. It is recommended, however, to pay for the car only on pick-up. That way you can prevent yourself from being suddenly without a vehicle (but with a charged credit card), sitting on the side of the road. It also gives you the opportunity to see the car in advance. Most providers offer payments via credit card (not prepaid or debit cards) and ordinary bank card. Cash payment is generally not possible and should be viewed critically, if it is offered.
7. The early birds book the best rental cars
As is the case so often in life, so it goes with hiring a car: the early bird gets the worm! Especially during a holiday in the peak season, the demand determines the price. If the destination has been booked for a long time, you shouldn’t wait too long to book a car. Often, the costs increase with time. Another advantage of early booking: The likelihood that my dream car is actually available is much higher.
With a bit of research and a keen eye comparing prices, hiring a car shouldn’t get in the way of your next holiday. For example, you can take a look at TUI Cars before departure, and secure your holiday car in advance. If you want to spontaneously rent a car on site, the TUI BLUE Guides in the TUI BLUE Hotels will of course be happy to help you. By the way, if you like to have your holiday planned out in advance from the comfort of your couch, you can use the BLUE App to make even more holiday preparations.