How to Rent a Car in Europe
Oh the freedom! If you’re above a certain age and have a valid credit card and an international driver’s license and… but if you can tick the boxes this is the only way to roll.
No doubt Europe’s public transportation system is the bee’s knees, but nothing beats the beauty of the countryside and the freedom of going wherever the heck you want for a change. If you’re considering ditching the busy city centres for scenic open roads, read on for all the info to get you on your way.
Everybody got choices
When it comes to choosing a car rental company, you’ll be happy to find you’ve got quite a few choices sure to meet your every need. Hertz, Enterprise, Europcar, Avis, yada yada yada. But instead of individually searching all of those use an aggregator site, like rentalcars.com. It’s easy to search, you can select your language, and it gathers rates from all the rental companies out there and finds you the best price. You can find all the pertinent rental information and book right there on the site. Rentalcars.com. You’re welcome (disclaimer: we’re in no way, shape or form affiliated with rentalcars.com – it just works really well).
Stuff you need to rent a car easy peasy
First things first, rental companies hate the youth. Not really, it’s just a liability thing but regardless of the company you go with, renters under 25 have to pay an extra fee. Some companies charge extra for renters under 30 and others won’t rent to you reckless youngsters at all. There are plenty of companies out there so you should be fine, it’s just a little annoying that you have to pay extra. If you’re really strapped for cash, you can always find someone older and wiser than you and make friends and make them rent the car for you.
To make your life easier and ensure you don’t encounter any issues when renting a car, there are a few essentials you should have. Number one is you need to have a valid driver’s licence (duh) and additionally, an international driver’s permit. An international driver’s permit is basically a document that translates the important information from your home driver’s license, so, you know, the powers that be can be certain that you are actually licensed to drive. What this means is you’ll need to obtain an IDP in your home country before travelling abroad. Some rental companies don’t care if you’ve got an IDP, but why risk it?
You’ll also need your passport and a credit or debit card. A credit card is highly preferred because if you use a debit card, they’ll hold the deposit. Meaning they’ll take the money out of your account for the duration of your rental. And deposits aren’t cheap, typically hundreds of dollars and up to $1,000 in some cases. Using a credit card won’t deprive you of your precious dinero, so keep that in mind.
Things you might (absolutely) want to pay attention to
I know everyone hates reading the fine print and blindly accepting terms and conditions is the norm, but when it comes to renting a car, that is the absolute worst thing you could do. There are extra fees for everything so if you don’t go over the t&c’s before you book your rental, you could end up paying way more than expected.
A few important things to check for include “full to full” petrol, which means the car should start and end with a full tank of petrol. Returning the car with less than full will result in extra fees. Another thing to take note of is the amount of kilometers included. It’s best if the rental includes unlimited mileage so you don’t have to worry about it, but if not, just make sure you’ve got enough. There’s a fee for exceeding the limit, somewhere around 45 cents for each kilometer over the limit. Seems small, but it can quickly add up.
Insurance is another key factor to look into. The rental company will push their insurance on you because it means more money for them of course, but you may not need it. If you’ve got a credit card, you should be covered. Most credit cards include some level of insurance, so definitely check with your credit company to see if yours does. No sense in wasting money on unnecessary shit when we’ve got more important things to blow it on. Like booze.
And one more thing. Location. If you’re on a budget, you should plan your itinerary so that you can pickup and drop off the car in the same location. Most companies charge, guess what, extra fees! Yeah one way fees vary greatly, up to 150 euros so keep that in mind. Also, rentals from the airport are typically cheaper, so if you can manage to get to the airport (usually pretty easy on public transport) you’ll save some more money.
And one more thing. The car itself. Most have manual transmission. Automatics aren’t very common in Europe so expect to pay more for automatic, if available. In regard to size, smalls are the cheapest and unless you’re travelling in a big group with heaps of gear, a small will have more than enough space. Small cars are also great for maneuvering the narrow, winding roads of Europe.
And one more thing. Kidding! Those are all the things, finally. I know, renting a car may seem like a hassle, but it’s so worth it. And now at least you’re well prepared!