We like to go to Italy every year for a few days R & R. But last year we had a bit of a shock at the car hire desk at the airport. Transpires they only take credit cards – and we don’t own one. Luckily we finally found one firm that would help us, Sixt. But they are a rarity. The other problem I have encountered with car hire firms abroad in the past is they wanted both parts of your driving licence. When I went to Sardinia on holiday with three girlfriends, this proved to be rather a stumbling block as it ended up that only one of us was legally allowed to drive the car. So it is definitely worth checking you have done everything you need when hiring a car for your holiday abroad – it can be an expensive minefield. Apparently TravelSupermarket discovered that Brits spent more than £475m in unexpected and/or unnecessary car hire costs in 2015.
Online comparison sites Once you’ve found what you’re looking for, check you are getting the cheapest price by contacting the chosen car hire company direct. It could be cheaper.
DVLA check code Visit gov.uk/view-driving-licence to get a code from the DVLA before you travel to Europe. The code only lasts 21 days but is easy to obtain and print off. I have read that not all hire companies bother asking you for your code, but it is better to be safe than sorry.
Extras If you want the security of being properly insured on your hire car, take out excess waiver insurance or collision damage waiver before you leave the UK. You can purchase this from around £2.99 per day from TravelSupermarket. You can easily get ripped off if you buy additional insurance when you pick up your car from the hire company.
Holding deposit This usually ranges from £300 – £500 so make sure you have enough on your credit card limit.
GPS Take your own sat nav (making sure it has the maps you need on it). Avoid using your mobile as a satnav as you could be fined for using it while driving.
Over 65? Not all hire companies rent to people over a certain age or might charge you extra.
Post car hire Remember to check your bank statements to ensure you haven’t been erroneously charged for anything extra by the car hire company.