Top Tips for Hiring a Car
If you’re not used to hiring a car, there can be quite a lot to remember, and you’ll want the hiring process to be as smooth as possible, so you can get on with your trip. Whilst certain hire companies and countries may have additional rules and laws for hiring a vehicle, our tips for hiring a car can help you to be prepared and ensure your hire is stress-free.
Before You Pick Up the Car
There are a few steps you should take to make sure you’re prepared before you pick up your hire car.
Understand the Fuel Policy
Different hire companies will have different policies when it comes to fuel, so it’s important to understand what you need to do before you pick up the car. Which fuel policy a hire company has might also influence whether you choose to hire from them or not.
Some companies will have a “full to full” fuel policy. This means that you’ll be given a full tank of petrol when you pick up the car. You won’t have to pay for this tank, but you’ll have to ensure the tank is topped again to full when you drop it off. You should find out where the nearest petrol station is to the drop-off point so you can do this.
A similar policy that’s used by some hire companies is “pay for that you use”. With this policy, you might not necessarily get a full tank – but whatever capacity the tank is at, you’ll have to return it to that level when you drop it off. With both this policy and “full to full” you’ll only end up paying for the fuel you use.
The other fuel policy that’s used by hire companies is “full to empty”. With this policy, you’ll have to pay the hire company for a full tank of petrol, but you can return it empty. The problem with this is that you’ll pay a premium for the tank, rather than a more standard price at a local petrol station. Plus, it’s unlike that you’ll run the tank down to empty, so you’ll probably always pay for more petrol than you’ll use.
Get Car Hire Excess Insurance
Most car hire policies offer some level of insurance protection, like collision damage waiver or third-party liability insurance. However, you’ll still have to pay the excess for any damage or theft, which can be anywhere between £500 and £2,000 – sometimes more for more expensive vehicles.
Some hire companies will offer car hire excess insurance at the desk, to save you paying the excess, but that can cost around £10 to £15 per day of your car hire. The solution to avoid this is to shop around and find the best car hire excess insurance before you pick up your hire car. Direct Car Hire Excess offers three different levels of excess cover from just £0.12 / €0.14 / $0.16 per day, so you will never have to pay the expensive excess fees in an accident. We’ll also cover towing costs, admin fees, and even loss of car keys. *Actual conversion rates may vary depending on the specific date and time of the transaction.
When You Pick up the Car
Once you’ve done the preparation before you pick up your car, there are some steps to remember when you pick up your vehicle.
Documents to Bring with You
You’ll need to bring a few documents with you to complete the hire process.
- ID – the hire company will need to prove that you are who you say you are and that you’re over the minimum age to drive and hire a vehicle. This will apply to anyone else who is planning to drive the hire car.
- Valid Driving Licence – You and anyone else who will be driving the car will need to bring a valid driving licence with them to prove they can legally drive. Whilst you won’t have a paper counterpart to your driving licence card anymore, you can generate a code on the Government website. to share with the hire company so they can view your driving record. The code will be valid for 21 days.
- Credit Card – Most hire companies will require a credit card for a security deposit – they usually won’t charge the card, but they’ll hold the money until the car is returned. Some hire companies might accept a debit card, but you should check this before you pick up the vehicle. The credit card will have to be in the same of the person who is acting as the primary driver.
- Policy Documents/Voucher – You’ll have probably been emailed policy documents or a policy voucher when you booked the hire company. It will have information on it like the dates, times, and locations that you’ll be picking up and dropping off the car, plus all the terms and conditions. You should print this off and bring it with you to pick up the car.
- Car Hire Excess Insurance – If you purchased car hire excess insurance from a third party, you should bring the policy documents with you in case the hire company needs the details.
- International Driving Permit (if required) – Some countries, like the USA, Japan, and Turkey, will require an International Driving Permit for you to legally drive there. You should check if the country you’re travelling to requires one and organise getting one in good time before your trip. If you do require one in the country you’re driving in, you should bring it with you when you pick up the vehicle.
What to Check on the Car
When you pick up the car, you should check it thoroughly for any damage. You should be provided with a vehicle condition report that will note any existing damage. If you find any dents or scratches, or anything else that isn’t on the report, bring it up with a hire company employee. You should also take photos yourself, ideally on a smartphone so they’ll have the date and time stamp. As well as damage to the bodywork and wheels, you should also check the windscreens, windows, and mirrors.
You should also make sure the car has everything you will need, like a spare tyre and jack. You should check the tyre pressure and make sure the windscreen wipers and sprayers are working. Lastly, you should ensure any extra features that you were told would be provided when you booked the policy, like GPS, are also present and working. If there are any issues, bring them up with a hire company employee.
We have provided some additional guide on everything related to hiring a car so should you have further uncertainties, have a look at what we cover with our top tips for hiring a car and what you need when hiring a car.
If you’ll be hiring a car overseas, you’ll want to stay protected from extreme excess costs. Direct Car Hire Excess offers annual car hire excess insurance, so you’re covered for multiple trips, or single trip policies. Get a quote now or contact us to speak to our expert team about your excess car insurance needs.