The ability to dive around wherever you please is a luxury that allows you to discover unknown treasures like small fishing villages and exotic sights like a vibrant sunset on a private beach. When you’re traveling abroad, renting a car can be a hassle, as you don’t know the local language, or issues arise such as insurance complications or having proper licensing. Which company you rent from, how long you’re going to be driving and where you’re going are all questions you should consider before heading out the door if you plan on renting a car.
Where to Rent Cars Abroad
Booking with an established professional international company is a great option for a quality vehicle with secure payment and insurance services, but you’ll be missing out on the personalized local knowledge that can be found from the smaller rental companies like knowing about road conditions and getting to certain places. These large companies have higher price tags, which you will give you the assurance that you will have a reliable vehicle waiting for you upon arrival and excellent customer service. Their website will be reliable and feature online payment options and the fine print, which is advisable to carefully read as sometimes the cost may shift with local surcharges.
When you attempt to find a local car company on the web, you may be met with results from international car brokers that will appear in your Internet search regardless of the specific country you typed in. Explore local car rental websites that look professional and have legitimate listed addresses and contact information, and trust your gut to forgo the sites that seem a bit sketchy.
Send inquiry emails to a few different car companies and communicate your basic needs for the vehicle, the duration you’ll need it and where you will pick it up and drop it off. From here, continue to feel out which company offers you the best overall rates, speaks your language to a comfortable degree and is friendly and helpful as these traits usually equate to successful car rental experience. Feel free to ask questions like what type of vehicle would best suit the terrain and your needs, what are the roads and weather like recently and suggestions on places to go and sights to see, as they will help give you a better sense of what to expect upon arrival and gives your agent a more precise idea of what you need.
The car rental company wants you to be safe just as much as you would, so they should be happy to answer any questions regarding destinations, directions and maps if it means preventing you from getting lost or getting into a wreck.
Certain regions may have their own methods of rentals, such as in Asia where although they advertise car rental they will pressure you to take a driver who knows the roads. This is not necessarily to charge you more, because many do it free of charge, but primarily because they prefer to have a trusted driver from their company handling the car rather than a potentially reckless foreigner.
The personalized service is a valuable aspect of your rental experience, but be warned that one of the downsides to using a local car company is that they typically only have one location in one town. This inhibits your ability to easily execute a one way rental, but if you need to do one, you’ll need to pay extra for an employee to take car of the car once you are done with it and afford the fuel it took him to get out to you.
Some rental companies may have practices that make you feel a bit skeptical but just make sure that you hammer out all the details prior to your agreement and get it in writing. Have a comprehensive understanding of all the fees you will be charged with regards to insurance, if the car is automatic or manual, amount of mileage allowance you have, and what credit cards they accept, or if they only accept cash.
Car Rental Broker
Car Rental Brokers aim to offer you the best price, from the largest selection with the greatest ease. With highly competitive prices thanks to access to hundreds of international car rental companies, the simple process provided by companies like Argus or Autos Abroad has easily visible pricing options that suit your dates, budget and car needs.
Another method is to utilize websites like Expedia and bookers.com, which serve as a broker for several different international car hire agencies. The positive traits about booking with these companies is that they search the best pricing out of all of the companies on the market and reservation matters are official and confirmed through the website, you can also book your hotel accommodations and transportation needs all in one place. The negatives include a lack of specification of which car company you are actually renting from due to the fact that they are merely acting as the middleman, which can lead to some miscommunications.
Short Term Leasing
You may have heard of “Buy Back Cars” in Europe, which are cars that you can short term lease for a minimum of 21 days and a maximum of 175 days, though only 165 days outside of France. These cars are part of a service provided by Peugot and Renault that will rent brand new cars to non-EU residents. This option is beneficial to both renter and rentee; renters have lower costs and aren’t subject to purchase tax, full insurance and a freedom to explore without age restrictions that may apply when crossing the border to other countries. The companies benefit because they resell the slightly used or ‘nearly new’ vehicles, but avoid the much higher brand new purchase tax. Although the service is based in France, you are able to pick up and drop the car at other locations in other countries.
Renting with No Credit Card
While the majority of car rental companies requires a credit card in order to rent a vehicle, there are other options from large and local companies to help you rent a car if you are without a card.
Large companies will usually accept debit cards but certain restrictions may apply like being charged a hold fee of $500.00 USD that can take as many as 14 days to return to your account. To use a debit card you may also be asked to supply your return ticket out of the country, be a minimum of 25 years old and other forms of identification like utility bills or photo ID. Be ready for some companies to do require a confirmation check, which may take a few days, so book ahead of your arrival date so that all the wrinkles are ironed out.
In certain developing regions of the world, you can actually only rent on a cash basis for local car agencies. You may wonder, how will they insure you from simply stealing the car once you’ve paid the mere rental price for it? One company may ask you for a large cash deposit while others may require that they hold your passport until you return. While they could be a legitimate company, the trust that you take in leaving your passport behind is more than you should afford yourself when abroad, because if you had a run in with traffic officials while driving in a foreign country without your passport, you could be in some big trouble.
Some of the multinational companies like Hertz, Avis and Budget offer specific cash payment options but it is not widely advertised or available at every location. You will likely have to jump through a few hoops as companies are trying to deter you from paying with anything but a credit card.
Collecting Your Vehicle
When picking up your vehicle, you may have already booked with a certain agency and you can drive away from the airport or head to your hotel where the car will be delivered to you. Be sure to restate terms, costs and so that everything is clear before you take the car. Check the paperwork and rental agreement, as well as surveying the car for any existing damages that they might later try to charge you with. Take the car for a test drive on a nearby road so that you can make sure you feel comfortable in the vehicle and it is functioning properly.
One trick that car rental companies practice is related to fuel levels. Fuel is an easy way to charge renters extra, whether its in the beginning when they give you a full tank of gas paired with a high price tag or in the end when they tell you to bring the tank back empty since you cannot return the car on an empty tank of gas so they will benefit from the free petrol. However, one of the most important things to discuss when it comes to fuel is what type the vehicle runs on so that even when you are in the middle of nowhere with color coded unmarked plastic liter bottles of gas, you’ll be able to tell which one you need and save yourself the possible car trouble.
Car Rental Insurance
Insurance can make or break your entire experience abroad if you have a bump along your road trip. Different companies may use different terminology but commonly used terms include a Collision Damage Waiver or Loss Damage Waiver Third Party Liability and Theft, which are all usually included in the majority of car rental agreements. Stolen or damaged cars will still incur extra fees, which can be avoided via the purchase of additional coverage, which may be referred to as Super CDW or Excess waiver.
Another strategy with car insurance is to get CDW and Excess coverage prior to your departure from home, since the prices are usually lower than prices of CDW coverage from car rental companies. There are companies that provide this service with customizing options of regional or worldwide coverage and also offer daily rates.