How to Rent a Car Without Being Ripped Off


Every year millions of tourists are ripped off by car rental companies. There is no worse feeling than standing at that desk watching your charges escalate and then walking outside to find that the enormous fee has not provided you with a Porche but rather the smallest and least interesting car on the lot. If you want to get a good deal then it takes a little time and you must steel yourself against the onslaught of emotional blackmail that we will be coming right at you when you arrive at that desk.

Book Early

Rental prices tend to creep up the closer you get to your departure day so if at all possible book early.  This will also help to guarantee that your choice of car is available. Family friendly models tend to sell out first. Don’t take the first deal you see, shop around. Look at the rental companies’ own sites but also the consolidators like but be warned. Each site will have different elements included in the price so write down what each deal includes and add in everything you need for an accurate comparison.

Additional Drivers

One of the extras which may not be included is an additional driver. It is always best to have more than one person able to drive the car but the costs can be astronomical. If you can book this aspect of your rental in advance it may well be cheaper and it is worth looking for packages that include at least one extra driver for free.  Add on package deals for extras can also yield a lower charge than buying them all separately and some of these will include that extra driver.

Sat Nav

There is nothing more outrageous than the charges rental companies make for satellite navigation systems. I am still smarting from the shock of what I paid recently in Los Angeles when my other half proved to be wrong about our own system holding the maps we needed. Before you set out check if your own sat nav has the maps for the country you are visiting and if it doesn’t then download them because it will be cheaper than renting a unit. If you don’t have your own system then buy one because you will get multiple trips out of the thing and for an even cheaper option buy a used one on eBay.


Child Seats and Booster Seats

You can pay a fortune to hire this safety equipment too, so endeavour to take your own. Check out your airline’s policies and charges for travelling with a seat as their charges may cancel out the savings you could make but if the charges are low or you can take the seat for free then do it.


Many rental companies now offer you a deal where you take the car with a full tank of fuel and can return it empty. If you are offered such an option refuse it because oddly enough they are not offering the service out of the kindest of their hearts. They do it because they make money. The fuel will be costly and most drivers end up returning the vehicles with something left in the tank enabling the renters to offer a full tank to the next customer that the previous customers has partly paid for.


Here is where the emotional blackmail comes in! That big excess is guaranteed to put the fear of god into you but don’t be fooled. You can buy cover for your excess independently for a much lower price and even if you haven’t done this it is better to refuse the extra insurance. Typically you would only have to achieve 3 accident free rentals to make rejecting this cover a better deal.


More emotional blackmail! Choose the car you want in advance, book it and stick to your guns. Only take an upgrade if it is free and even then check that other charges like insurance haven’t grown in size with the car. That guy at the desk is going to try to sell you a bigger model but don’t listen!

It is possible to get a good deal on your car rental but not when you are standing at the desk. Book well in advance and any extras that you can’t escape are best booked online at that time too. Carefully compare every deal you see before making up your mind up and organise any additional insurance independently before you travel. Then all you have to do is remain impervious to the emotional appeals at the desk and you will have saved a fortune.


Article by Sally Stacey