Making Sense of the Car Rental Market

With more people choosing to take fly-drive vacations, or needing to rent a vehicle while abroad on business trips, car rental is playing an increasingly important role in the way we plan our overseas journeys.

The Basics

When renting a car on holiday it is always important to ensure you are familiar with local traffic laws, such as speed limits, the minimum driving age or the correct side of the road to drive on. Similarly, it is important to choose a rental car that you are comfortable driving; if you typically drive a small car, it may be wise to choose an economy car package rather than a luxury car or family-sized vehicle.


Furthermore, make sure the pick-up and drop-off points are workable for you. For instance, when arriving at an airport, try to rent at a dedicated rentals counter within the airport terminal itself. Free transfers to the pick up location should save you money as well as making your arrival in a new territory smooth and stress free. This will also ensure you avoid unscrupulous and untrustworthy car rental schemes.

Potential Savings and Costs

If you know your schedule ahead of your arrival, it also makes sense to try and pre-book online, as rental firms such as Europcar offer substantial online discounts. And remember, many rental firms charge extra if the drop-off point differs substantially from the pick-up point. This is called a Drop Fee and is typically paid in advance. Young drivers can also expect to pay surcharges in many nations - for instance, those aged 24 or under and renting a car in the U.S. or Spain must pay an additional insurance fee for each day they rent.

The Rental Market

Some of the biggest car rental firms on the planet include Hertz, Enterprise, Europcar and Avis. Enterprise alone has almost 6000 rental locations in the United States, as well as further outlets in the UK, Germany, Canada and Ireland. Hertz operates 8000 locations in 150 countries, while Europcar also has a presence in 150 countries, but with more than 13,000 rental stations (in association with Enterprise Holdings). Lastly, Avis manages some 4000 locations in 114 countries.


As an example price comparison at the time of writing, when booking a 5 door medium compact car such as a Seat Leon over a 3 day weekend period, using Barcelona Airport as pick-up and drop-off point, Avis charged a flat fee of £103.99 per rental. Europcar charged £101.99 per rental, however, this dropped to £87.20 with the online discount. Meanwhile, Hertz's equivalent deal for a Toyota Auris would set you back £107.91.

The benefits of researching your car rentals ahead of schedule are clear, however, if this is not possible, try and use a verified company that you recognise and feel comfortable with.

 (photo © Untitled)

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