Comparing Car Rental Prices

Car rental rates often vary considerably depending on what is included in the rate. Look out for those too-good-to-be-true prices - they probably are. You may think you have found a bargain, but it will be a different story when you go to pick up the rental car, only to be told you have to pay for lots of additional charges.

So when you are comparing car rental costs online, ensure you are comparing like with like. There are various extra charges which can push up the price of your rental car, so make sure you look out for them. Often if you add these on to that oh-so-low rate, it doesn't look so appealing anymore.

What is Included

Most car rental websites will list the inclusions with the rental. These will vary depending on suppliers but generally standard rates include basic insurance and tax.

What is Extra

Again this will vary but look out for the following:

Airport Fees

Also known as a Premium Location Fee, you will be charged extra to pick up a rental car at an airport location. This charge varies depending on supplier and location, but in the UK for example could cost as much as 13% of the rental value.

Vehicle Licensing Fee

This is a Government imposed levy for rental cars to partially recover the registration costs. Approximate cost in the UK: GBP1.22 per day, which over a long period can add up.

Additional Driver Fees

If you want to have more than one driver for your rental car, this is often an extra charge. Daily charges range from GBP4-20 in the UK, EUR4-8 in Italy and from USD3-10 in the States.

Young Driver Surcharge

This is often charged if the driver of the rental car is under the age of 25. In Australia, this ranges from AUD13-22 per day. In France, the Young Driver Surcharge varies from EUR20-35 per day, GBP10-25 in the UK and USD5-45 in the USA.

Excess Reduction

Each rental car often comes with an Insurance Excess which is the amount you would be responsible for if the rental vehicle is damaged. This can often be a few thousand dollars but can be reduced with an optional excess reduction charge which can be paid daily to reduce your excess to a few hundred dollars or even to zero.

Additional Equipment

Things like child seats, ski racks and snow chains are often available at an extra charge.

One Way Rentals

If you want to drop off your rental car in a different city from where you picked it up, there may be a one way fee. Again, this varies depending on the supplier and destination. Ensure you ask before you pay!

All these extras can add up. Sometimes a standard rate may be right for you but if you are picking up at the airport and want an extra driver, for example, it may make sense for you to go with an inclusive rate.

Read the Small Print

Be sure to read inclusions carefully to see what the rental rate covers and which one is right for you. Look for possible restrictions and additional costs and find out what exactly they are before you pay. If you find a low car rental rate, make sure that the additional costs do not outweigh the savings.

People often talk about the "hidden costs" of car rental, but the reality is, they are not hidden at all - you just need to know what to look for.