Everything you need to know about renting a car in Europe

Renting a car in Europe has its own pros and cons. On the one hand, it provides ample mobility and flexibility, on the other hand, it could be a hassle if one is not too confident with the traffic rules. I generally avoid renting a car if I am visiting the cities as they can be highly populated and parking could be a trouble. I prefer renting when I am traversing between different towns or cities and hope to gain the best views and experience from the road trip.

First step: Booking the car

  • Avoid last-minute hassles and expensive rentals by e- booking the car in advance. The best websites to book the car are rentalcars.com and easyterra.com. Both sites offer a vast choice of cars from various service providers as per the chosen departing station, duration and the other utility options like the category of the car, number of people, automatic or manual etc.
  • Car daily rentals are charged as per the policy of retaining the car for 24 hours. It means if you book the car for 4 pm from a website, your day rental would be charged until 4 pm the next day. If you return it by 5 pm, you would have to pay for 2 days.
  • Ensure to check out the ratings and reviews before selecting a provider.
  • Choose the category of the car depending on your requirements, terrain and weather of the place. For eg., I chose a convertible in Spain as the predicted weather was sunny, whereas I chose an SUV in Iceland because I planned to drive along the gravel roads.

Second step: Choosing or not choosing the insurance

  • If you do not plan to take the insurance
    • If you do not plan to add the insurance either from the website or from the rental company, there will be a blocking of a certain amount on your credit card based on the rental company and the category of the car that you have opted for. In this case, it is always advisable to return the car during the office hours so that you can ask for a written document claiming no extra debits on your credit card for any damages.
  • Insurance from the website
    • If you plan to take the insurance from the website, please ensure to read the terms and conditions properly and consider the parameters that the insurance is covering. Also, please note that here the website is offering you the rental and not the rental company, hence, the rental company would still block an amount on your credit card. If any damage/s happen, the website is responsible for the reimbursements and not the rental company.
    • The advantage here is that you might get a cheaper insurance and more coverage from the website, but it is not a mandate.
  • If you plan to take the insurance from the rental provider
    • If you take the insurance from the rental provider or directly from the counter, there will be no blocking on your credit card. Just ensure to ask the rental provider the waiver coverage that you are offered. All the companies might not offer a zero waiver coverage and hence, the next step will play a pivotal role.

Third step: When you receive the car

  • Carry your driving license, passport/ residence permit and credit card- all three in your name for renting the car. There could be a provision where you can rent the car on other’s credit card, but it is always advisable to check the same with the rental company.
  • Ask for the contact number, the working hours and the procedure to return the car keys in case of off-working hours.
  • Know your category and don’t hesitate to ask for a free upgrade. You might get lucky!
  • When you get the car, check for the damages as marked and click the pictures for a cross-reference later (you might not need to this step in case you have already taken an insurance).
  • Check for indicators, headlights, horn, ease of steering, petrol/ diesel level, brake and additionals if you had asked (like maps).
  • It is recommended to read the driving instructions in advance, so you might be equipped with the traffic rules just in case there is a change.

Also read: My best road trips across Europe and what you should carry for a road trip.

Final step: Returning the car

  • When you are returning the car, make sure to return it on time, else you might be charged extra for another day.
  • Dispose off the keys as stated in the documents and as suggested by the counter.
  • Click pictures again, if your car is not insured. It is good to avoid unavoidable charges, if any.
  • Make sure to follow the fuel policy or make a note of the amount that will be debited.

So, here was a quick guide to rent the car in Europe. Feel free to join the conversation on my social media and to follow my voyage journal.