5 Tips for Renting a Car in Europe

Seeing Europe by road is an experience like nothing else. Imagine winding through the Alps as you cross from Italy into Switzerland, gliding through the emerald-hued, sheep-speckled highlands of Scotland or seeing the skyline of Paris pop up after covering miles of countryside terrain. Of course, it is important to know what you’re getting into before you get the keys to a car in your hand. Take a look at five tips to know if you’re planning to rent a car in Europe.

1. Where You Rent Your Car Can Impact Price

Do you want to get a really good deal on a rental car? You might want to skip picking up your car in what many people would consider being the most convenient spot. That’s because rental cars in Europe that are picked up at airports and train stations are often more expensive. Rental companies tack on fees that can range from €25 to €100 for popular pickup spots. You are more likely to get a good deal on a car rental if you pick your car up from a rental spot in town. Of course, paying a fee may be worth the loss to you if you simply want to get in your car as soon as you arrive in a country. The other perk that goes along with picking up a car at a hub upon arrival is that rental spots located in airports and train stations tend to be much larger than the ones you’ll find in town. That means that you can enjoy a better selection, more reliable reservations and extended operating hours. Of course, you may have no choice other than to use a larger rental facility near a hub if you’ll be picking up or dropping off your car outside of conventional hours.

2. It Often Costs Extra to Cross Borders

The fees don’t end once you pick up your rental car. Some rental companies in Europe actually charge you extra for crossing borders. You generally won’t be charged whenever you cross a border from one EU country to another. However, you could be charged up to €50 if you drive into a non-EU country in your rental car. Check for fees before you book your rental car if your European itinerary involves several countries. The border fees could make a deal much less affordable than it actually looks.

3. Automatic Transmission Will Cost Extra

Most cars in Europe are manual. It’s actually pretty difficult to find a car with automatic transmission. The thing to know is that you could pay up to 50% more just to rent an automatic vehicle! What if you simply must have an automatic? Just make sure you plan properly to avoid any issues. You’ll need to book an automatic vehicle much farther in advance because inventory is scarce. You may also want to consider picking your vehicle up at a larger rental place near an airport or big city to ensure that the inventory is there!

4. Check What Your Credit Card Offers for Insurance

The rental company you go through may try to sell you collision damage waiver (CDW) coverage. However, it’s important to note that most credit cards actually offer this coverage for free. Cards issued by Visa, MasterCard and American Express almost always offer it. Discover is the only card that doesn’t offer this perk. Of course, you’ll want to check with your card company before you book your trip to make sure you have the coverage you need. Credit card companies will sometimes exclude certain countries and vehicle models in coverage policies. You’re also going to need to inquire about what is covered, the maximum reimbursement allowed and the maximum number of days for coverage. You should also ask your card company for a letter of coverage that you can take along with you on your trip! This may seem like a lot of work. However, you’re essentially just putting in a few minutes of effort for free coverage!

5. It Can Be Tough to Maximize Points

It certainly is possible to use earned miles to rent a car in Europe. However, you may end up with very poor value for what you’re giving up. Many disappointed travelers learn that extra fees and taxes can’t be covered by points. You can sometimes do better than what your points can give you by simply booking a vacation package that includes a flight and car rental from your preferred airline. Airlines will often offer packages that greatly reduce the price of a rental compared to what you’d pay if you booked separately. One last thing to remember when attempting to use points to pay for a European rental car is that you’re generally better off using a card that issues statement credits for travel instead of forcing you to redeem your points directly through a reservation. The big thing about this is that paying with your card via statement credits will ensure that you’ll be eligible for the rental coverage that’s provided by your card.

Get on the Road!

Are you ready to see Europe by road? The journey of a thousand miles starts with one very good price quote! Remember that you shouldn’t stop at just comparing the initial quotes that come in. Dig down to see which deal is really the best one once you consider taxes, fees and any extra services you might want. Don’t forget to get quotes for weekly rentals instead of just daily rentals. The per-day price of a car rental typically goes down as you tack on more days. You may find that renting for a full seven days is equal to or less than the price of renting at the day rate for five days. The last thing to remember is that price comparisons can be hard to do when you’re dealing with different currencies. Convert all prices you see on your own to get a clear picture of what’s really being charged on an apples-to-apples basis.

Source: frugal travel guy

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