How to Avoid Extra Charges When Hiring a Car

16th September, 2021, in Money Saving Tips, Car Hire Help

Nobody wants to face extra costs when they go abroad. Hiring a car should be a simple process, but there are often lots of add-ons and extra fees and charges which you’ll have to deal with when you pick up or drop off your rental.

Below are some tips to avoid paying more than you planned for your hire car.


When you pick up your hire car, staff may offer you an extra insurance package. But some rentals will automatically come with some level of car insurance. Most will come with theft protection and collision damage waiver as standard, but this won’t cover damage to every part of the car. You should check the policy before you pick up so you know exactly what you’re covered for and what you might be liable to pay.

In addition to this, your own car insurance may cover rentals. You should research prior to picking up your vehicle to make sure you don’t pay for extra insurance that you don’t need.


Different rental companies will have different policies for how much fuel you’ll need to return the vehicle with. Some may offer “collect full, return empty”, where you’ll have to pay for the full tank when you pick up the vehicle, but you don’t have to fill it back up when you drop it off. However, you’ll often pay more money for fuel at the rental desk than if you filled it up at a petrol station. Also, you’re unlikely to run the tank down to empty just before you return it, so you’ll end up paying the rental company for fuel you haven’t used.

Look for a hire firm that offers “collect full, return full”. This means that you won’t have to pay any extra for fuel at the desk. You’ll just need to fill up the tank yourself before you drop off the vehicle. One of the most important issues regarding fuel is misfuelling. If you misfuel your hire car, it could be unsafe to drive and costs thousands to repair!

Damage Charges

You’ll be liable to pay for any scratches or dents that occur when you’re driving the hire vehicle. However, you should take care to thoroughly check the car over when you pick it up, to make sure that every bit of damage, no matter how small, has already been recorded on a vehicle condition report and signed by a member of staff. You should also take your own photos of any pre-existing damage. This way you can avoid paying for any damage that you didn’t cause yourself.

Cleaning Charges

Many hire companies will include a cleaning or valeting charge in the deposit. If the vehicle is not returned in an “acceptable condition” you will have to pay the fee to get it cleaned. You might also have to pay an admin fee for this cleaning too. To avoid this, make sure you leave time before you drop the vehicle off so you can make sure it is clean and tidy.

Upgrade Charges

When you pick up your vehicle, the staff may offer you an upgrade to a better car, which may be bigger, have a better engine or more high-tech features. Staff will often give you the price per day, so you’ll need to check how much it will be for your entire trip. A more expensive car may also come with a higher security deposit, so you should make sure you fully understand the entire cost of upgrading before you accept.

Late Fees

Car hire companies usually work in 24-hour periods, so you’ll need to drop the car off at the same time you picked it up. If you miss this time, you could be charged a late fee or even charged for a whole extra day. Make sure you leave plenty of time to return the vehicle.

However, you can also receive extra charges if you return it early – for example, if you return it on a weekend when you had planned to return it on a Monday, you could be charged the weekend rate. If you’ve already planned to pay a weekly rate, you could still be charged for that even if you return the car within a few days. Keep to your original plan as best you can to avoid paying extra.

Insurance Excess

As part of the standard insurance policy, you’ll likely be liable to pay a certain amount of excess. This means, that if your vehicle is damaged or stolen whilst you’re using it, you could need to pay out a charge, which can sometimes be as high as £2,000. If you want to travel with the peace of mind that you won’t have to cover this cost if you have an accident, you’ll need to get car hire excess insurance.

Direct Car Hire Excess offers car hire excess insurance for just £0.12 / €0.14 / $0.16 a day, so you know you’re fully covered and can claim easily. Get a quote today or contact us to speak to our expert team about your requirements. *Actual conversion rates may vary depending on the specific date and time of the transaction

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