Renting a car is a common thing for many consumers. The European Consumer Centre gives you some valuable tips for each stage of the rental process.
Compare prices: as the sector is very competitive, prices can vary greatly from one company to another. The earlier you book, the more likely you are to get a good deal. Make sure you compare the general conditions, the options included in each contract and the price of additional options that may be charged to you.
Choosing the right insurance: third-party insurance (third-party liability) is compulsory. In principle, it must be included in the price. It covers material and physical damage caused to a third party and their vehicle, even if you are responsible. For greater security, opt for additional insurance such as CDW (Collision Damage Waiver). This will cover you in the event of damage to the rented vehicle. Make sure you get a written statement detailing your insurance options. If you do not take out additional insurance, you will have to pay an excess. In the event of an accident, contact the rental agency as soon as possible to inform them, as some insurance companies impose a maximum time limit for reporting the incident.
Always check whether the rental offer includes the return of the vehicle with or without a full tank of petrol. A rental offer that includes pick-up and returns with a full tank of petrol may be cheaper.
Taking Possession of the Vehicle
Read the contract carefully: do not hesitate to ask for explanations of the most important points. Check, for example, which additional services will be charged for and whether all the drivers of the vehicle are listed in the contract.
Check the condition of the vehicle carefully: when you receive the keys, remember to check the general condition of the vehicle (interior and exterior) in the presence of the rental company. Don’t forget to mention in writing any problems you find (scratches, damaged tyres, etc.), otherwise you may be charged for them.
Respect the road regulations of the country: you are obliged to respect the traffic regulations of the country in which you drive the vehicle. In the event of an offence, the car rental company may pass on to you the fines received.
Returning the Vehicle
Respect the date and time of return: car rental companies are entitled to charge a full day’s rental for late returns. Some contracts may allow you to return the vehicle to a different station from where you picked it up. There is often a charge for this option if you make use of it.
Refuelling: Depending on the terms of the contract, the consumer may be required to refuel before returning the vehicle. If you do not, the rental agency will fill the tank itself, but will charge its own price. Alternatively, you can pay for a full tank of fuel in advance at a preferential rate, so that you do not have to worry about refuelling.
Don’t leave without a receipt: if no damage has been found, we advise you to make a report in the presence of the rental company. Ask for a written and signed document indicating that the vehicle has been returned in good condition. On the other hand, if you recognise that the vehicle has been damaged, it is advisable to obtain an estimate from a garage beforehand. This estimate can be used if the rental company charges too much for the repair of the vehicle. If the rental company charges your credit card for repairs without your consent and you dispute the charge, you can contact your credit card company to request that the transaction be blocked.