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Car rental rip-offs abroad and how to dodge-em

car hire excessHiring a car abroad this Easter? One of the easiest pitfalls to avoid – and there are many – is being forced into buying overpriced insurance at the rental desk when you pick up the car.

Basic cover is included in the rental price but usually it doesn’t include damage to tyres, windows, the interior or the wheels. Worse, you are usually liable for the first £1,000 or so of any claim, called the excess. The rental firm will often try to sell you an additional policy to cover it. This can cost up to £25 a day, says Money Saving Expert. That’s sometimes as much as hiring the car itself, effectively doubling your bill.

However, you can avoid the cost by buying cheaper car hire excess insurance (more like £2 a day) in the UK before you go. It can be made annual too which is great if you drive abroad often and spreads the cost further. You can also have several drivers on the same policy, each able to hire a car in their own name (although usually not at the same time) as long as they are registered living at the same address.

For Minted motoring abroad, we currently have an annual policy with ReduceMyExcess which cost us £33.46 last year. It covers both Mr Minted and myself as drivers and we used it for about five weeks in total – so the daily price was less than £1 a day. In the past I’ve also used Questor* who were great too. You can get discounts with both these firms with a code from Money Saving Expert. Alternatively, have a search on comparison website Moneymaxim to find the best deal for you.

The one downside to going standalone is that the car hire firm will still demand a deposit of up to possibly up to £1,200 on your credit card. This is because you must pay for the damage, if it happens, then claim the cost back from the excess insurer. It might take a little bit of time so the rental company would rather have the cash available upfront. Normally it isn’t too much of an inconvenience but you must ensure there’s enough bandwidth on your credit card to cover it.

Don’t forget to get and take your online DVLA code too so the rental firm can check your licence. And always tick the box to bring the car back with a full tank yourself: letting the rental firm fill up is another way to overpay. There are lots more top tips in our SMM quick guide to car rental that you should read before you set off. Don’t leave home without it! 

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Wednesday, 22 May 2019