A Guide To Car Rental Abroad - Helpful Hints, Tips & Checklist
Car hire tips. Consider the vehicle's requirements. Regulation may change in differing countries. Use our advice and checklist for all of your car rental needs.
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Image of an airport car rental sign.

Simple secrets to hassle-free car rental abroad See how we can help save you more money

Save money on car hire by following our tips for booking your car rental. Our recommendations can make a difference to ensure your rental stays cheap.

At the airport

You could save money by renting from an off-site company, but if you look around there are usually deals to be had with on-terminal sites, removing the hassle of going off-site. However, if the rental is a long one, we would recommend using an off-site company as the savings may be significant.

Also, if a 24/48-hour free cancellation can be built into the deal, this would allow for earlier booking which could lead to a lower price. You can also continue to shop around to see if any cheaper deals arise nearer to the departure date.


‘Full-to-empty’ policies should be avoided – a full tank of petrol is paid for (at an inflated price), allowing you to return the car with an empty tank.


Having only one driver reduces the cost significantly. Always check what an extra person does to the bill. Young drivers (aged 18-25) usually have to pay a premium, if they’re allowed to drive at all.

Sat navs

Always a cause for deliberation. We would argue that you shouldn’t opt for one. An increasing number of cars have built-in sat navs anyway (which still function if you don’t pay for the sat nav option). Also, apps such as HERE WeGo (for iOS and Android) can be downloaded and offers offline functionality.

Car seats

Will you need one? If so, arrange for your own to go into the cargo hold. Most airlines charge a minimal fee (roughly £20-30 for a return trip) if booked in advance, whereas rental companies charge roughly £60-100 for a child’s seat for a 2-week holiday. Also, the quality and fit may be wrong; so, in the interests of safety, please take your own.


Rental companies generally add the phrase “or similar” to reservations. A trick we have learned over the years is to ensure the small car booked has four doors. The reason? Often, these small cars run out and so you are upgraded to a larger four-door car at no additional cost. Families hiring a people carrier may find it cheaper to rent two small cars, rather than one with six or seven seats. However, we do realise this can create logistical issues.


Only buy the basic package! Rental firms profit from selling add-ons. Insurance is a key revenue stream for car hire firms. Instead of purchasing their ‘collision damage waiver’ (CDW) insurance, purchase your own. Remember that your hire car comes with an excess, which you are liable for if damaged.

Mark every scratch on the rental agreement when collecting the car, no matter how small. Do the same for the wheels and for the interior of the vehicle. Record the mileage of the car. Once this has all been written on the form ensure that this is signed by the rental desk, however how long the walk back may be. If it is not signed, the firm can argue that you caused the damage and charge you for the repairs.

Upon returning your car, repeat the same process to ensure that no additional costs are incurred. If it is late at night, do not give your car to any individuals proclaiming to work for the firm. Car thieves are operating in these areas, and if stolen could lead to a hefty fine or lengthy legal battle between you and the car rental provider.

The checklist:

Below we have created a checklist for all of your rental needs:

Image of the car rental checklist

For more information, please visit The RAC’s ‘Driving in Europe’ Checklist.

Rohan Anand
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