The UK currently has a large number of car hire companies ranging from huge multinational corporations to local offices with small fleets. The benefit of car hire is that it allows for travel at a bespoke pace, free from the restraints of public transport. Hopefully the following information will help travellers to make the best choice of rental companies within the UK and abroad.
Booking a hire car in advance is always advisable. Many companies reward those with the foresight to book early with preferential rates and discounts. Some companies will give as much as ten to fifteen percent off should the vehicle be booked weeks or months in advance. Additionally booking online with the larger companies can also be beneficial; again discounts are usually available. It is important however to study the company's cancellation policy carefully. In the majority of cases there will be a minimum time period for notice of cancellation although penalty charges may apply. At this point it can be worth taking the optional cancellation waiver in order to prevent any penalty charges.
The choice of car hire company should always be considered carefully. When comparing companies, look at prices, services offered and the types of vehicle available; rates will often vary should a larger car be booked. Also, if a specialist vehicle be needed, or if the plan is to hire a specific make and model of car, searching the companies in the UK that have the type of vehicle in their fleet is advisable. Just as important as price however is the services that you will receive, personal recommendation is often the best way to find a company although the internet is a great resource for finding ratings of rental companies.
Undoubtedly rental companies will offer a variety of different insurance extras at the time of booking as well as at the desk. The choice of these extras however can be discombobulating for the customer. It is important to understand the level of insurance already possessed, this may be part of a personal motor insurance policy that may cover any accidents or damages. That said, taking these extras can protect the customer from any penalty charges should the worst happen.
It is always good advice to add any drivers to the rental agreement if they are likely to drive the car. This is for insurance reasons as in most cases if the unregistered driver does happen to have an accident, the agreement will be voided and the penalty incurred will be huge. In some cases it will possible to add a spouse without an extra charge although this is in no way true for all companies in the UK, some will still charge for any additional drivers.
Making an extremely detailed check of the rental agreement is vital if a good deal is to be had. Check for items such as mileage restrictions and if there are any, stick to them religiously to avoid any extra charges on the return of the vehicle to the depot. In addition, in many cases, applying snow chains, or towing with a hire car can be problematic. Once again checking the agreement is advisable, and any contentious issues removed.
The final piece of advice to ensure that car hire experiences are as enjoyable as possible is to return the car promptly. Most companies within the UK calculate charges on a daily basis rather than hourly, so by returning the car just one hour late, it is up to the company's discretion should they wish to charge another day's rental. It is hoped that this advice will help all travellers make the most of their rental experience, giving them the knowledge to extract the best deal and service.
Travel expert Thomas Pretty looks at car hire UK services and advises consumers on how to get the best deal.