Renting a car is perfectly normal for many consumers. The European Consumer Centre gives you some valuable tips for car rental in order to avoid any surprises.

  1. Reservation
  • Price comparison: the fierce competition in the rental car industry signifies that there are great price differences from company to company. If you book early, you can in many cases benefit from lower prices. Pay attention to the General Terms and Conditions, to the contract options as well as to the price of additional options that may be charged separately.
  • Insurance choice: A liability insurance is mandatory. In principle, it should be included in the price. This insurance covers damages to persons or property arising from the use of the vehicle, even if you are responsible. For more security, you should opt for an additional CDW insurance (Collision Damage Waiver). It covers you for damages to the rental vehicle. Make sure to get a detailed written statement of your insurance options. If you do not conclude an additional insurance, you have to pay a franchise. In the event of an accident, you should immediately inform the rental company, as some insurance companies have set a maximum time limit for reporting an incident.
  • Fuel options: always check whether the lease provides for the return of the vehicle with or without a full tank. A lease including the return of the rental vehicle with a full tank can be cheaper.
  1. Collecting the car
  • Read the contract carefully: let the company explain you the main points. Make sure what additional services are charged and whether all the drivers of the vehicle are included in the contract.
  • Check the condition of the vehicle after receiving the keys carefully. Check the inside and outside condition of the vehicle in the presence of an employee of the rental company. Remember to record all defects (scratches, damaged tires …) in a written document, as otherwise they can be charged to you.
  • Observe the traffic regulations of the country: you have to drive according to the traffic regulations of the country in which you are driving the rental car. The rental company can redirect the traffic tickets and fines to you.
  1. Returning the car
  • Respect the date and time of return: car rental companies are entitled to charge a further day if you return the car late. Some contracts allow you to return the car at a different place than the pick-up place. The additional costs will usually be charged to you when using this option.
  • Fuel: the contract can stipulate that you have to refuel before returning the car. In case you do not, the rental company will refill the tank at its own rates and might further apply a service charge. You can also pay in advance for the tank to be filled at a lower price. This option frees you from the requirement to fill up the car before return.
  • Ask for a receipt: if no damage was detected, we recommend that you set up a protocol in the presence of an employee of the car rental company. Insist on a written and signed document stating that the vehicle was returned in good condition. In case you caused damage to the car, ask a garage to write a cost estimate before returning the car. This can prevent an over-billing for the repair by the car rental company. If the company deducts repair costs without your permission of your credit card, you can contact your credit card company to prevent the transaction.