How to Choose the Best Car Hire CompanyJanuary 23, 2013
Hiring a car for any purpose can be a daunting task for many, as confusing rental contracts and complex insurance details can bewilder and perplex even the most confident of drivers.
Making sure that you get the best deal possible means finding a reputable and trustworthy company who also offer value for money, and using the handy hints and tips below could help you to do just that…
It may sound obvious, but checking that a hire company serves the area you require is a fundamental basic that is easily overlooked – there’s no point in finding a great value offer if it turns out the location of the hire depot requires you to travel miles to pick up your vehicle!
Another basic consideration is the type of vehicles each company has available for hire. Do they have the car or minivan sufficient to your needs? Take into account exactly what you require a hire car for, such as rural driving or lengthy motorway use, and for exactly how many people (bear in mind that child seats can sometimes cost extra).
Legitimacy and Reputation:
As is the case in most situations, if a car hire deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. It’s possible to check the legitimacy of the company online before renting a vehicle from them – their website should show a location map and opening hours; you should be able to get a full quote online before renting; there should be detailed descriptions of all the vehicles available for hire (although many places operate on a size/engine capacity scale instead of specific models), and even simple things like getting charged extra for using a credit card could indicate foul play.
Thoroughly researching a company’s reputation on external review websites or forums is a good way to get a sense of how they operate, as this allows you to build an impartial opinion without being influenced by their own advertising rhetoric. A quick Google should give you a good idea about whether or not they’re the right company for your needs, and potentially save you time, money and hassle.
While trying to keep your hire process as economical as possible, you may get tempted to go for a smaller vehicle at a lower rate. However, it may not always prove cheaper to select the car with the smallest engine, as you may be filling up more often than you want to, and many hire companies require you to return the rental with a full tank of petrol.
However, there are rental services that offer great deals for you to take advantage of, such as unlimited mileage or extra hire days over a long weekend, so make sure you shop around to find one that suits you. Booking online is generally an advantage, as this is where many companies place their best offers, and booking a long way in advance usually leads to the best available price.
Remember: legally, you must be 21 to rent a car, but it is often far cheaper if you’re over 25.
Check the Car Before Driving Off!
So you’ve selected your hire company, you’ve chosen your car, and you’ve agreed to the terms and conditions. Now it’s time to go and pick up your vehicle. When doing this, it cannot be stressed enough how important it is to check the car before driving off, as you don’t want to be held responsible for any damage caused by the previous driver of the vehicle. Check the body and paintwork for scratches, test all mechanics (locks, windscreen wipers, lights etc), and double check the fuel type that the car takes before filling up!
Similarly, when returning the vehicle to the rental company, try to witness an employee inspecting the car for any damage to ensure they can’t pin anything on you – including excessive mileage.
Check the Small Print:
Finally, make sure you check every single term and condition on your hire contract. Some companies love to include hidden extras everywhere, from mileage limitations to the amount of fuel required when returning your hired vehicle, and these are the places that are best avoided.
Insurance details are a common area for exploitation. Legally, there are three insurance requirements when hiring a car: third-party liability, collision damage waiver (or loss damage waiver), and theft protection. Check the small print of your agreement for add-ons applied by the rental company, as any pre-existing car insurance policy you already have may cover you for hire cars.
At Whitgift Hire, we offer comprehensive car, van and minibus hire packages aimed at all budgets, with a large fleet of variously sized vehicles that are all under four years old. Unlike many hire companies, our rental rate includes unlimited mileage and 24 hour national service support for ultimate peace of mind, meaning you can be sure you’re getting the best value possible with Whitgift.
Get in touch today for a free quote, or to discuss your car, van and minibus hire needs with a member of our friendly and helpful team.