Car hire: a buyer's guide to finding the cheapest rates

Even if you have hired a car before, it is still possible to feel confused as you stand at the counter and talk to the agent. There are so many little details to consider, questions to answers and deals to compare. What should you say 'no' to? A basic rule is to make sure you are not charged excessively for empty fuel tank and unwanted insurance or upgrades.

Our buyer's guide can help you navigate the daunting world of car hire and make the process of hiring a car enjoyable.

First shop around online

Browse and compare multiple websites. Use online agents such as Expedia.co.uk or TravelSupermarket.com to check prices first, but also look on the sites of the major players, such as Hertz, Avis, Europcar, Sixt and Argus. They often have special offers making them just as cheap as the agents.

Deal chasing

Remember to always check weekend discounts or special weekly rates. Car hire rates are typically much cheaper if you choose a weekend deal or if you opt for a whore week rental agreement.

Don't forget to do the math! A rate that sounds unbelievably cheap should be considered carefully.

Buy the basic package only

This is the secret to buying the cheapest car hire plan. Car hire firms will try to sell you an endless variety of add-ons, most of them absolutely unnecessary. Ignore the pressure and buy the basic package only.

Choose a smaller car

If you don't really need a large car, opt for a smaller one. Rates are typically cheaper for economy models. Here is a little wise tip – compact cars are usually more popular and car hire companies often run out of them. If you're offered an upgrade, just say 'no' and you will get the upgrade anyway for the economy price.

Use your own satnav and child seats

If travelling with your child, save some money by bringing your own child car seat. The car hire firm Avis, for instance, will charge you £ 10 per day for child safety seat rental. Obviously, this can add a significant amount onto your car hire expenses, if you have booked the car for a week. They will also charge you £13.99 per day for GPS which can easily avoided by bringing your own satnav with you.

Don't prepay for petrol

It is rarely the cheapest option. You will be offered two choices: full-to-empty fuel policy or self-refill fuel policy. Car hire companies insist that the low rates they offer for prepaid petrol will add convenience and will save you money. Surveys report, however, that the better option is to opt to refuel it yourself just before returning it.

Visit also: Cheap Flights

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