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Feb 12, 2015
How car hire works

Here we explain to you how car hire companies operate

The first rule of most car hire suppliers is to trick/fool the client whenever possible, and to pay their own counter staff as little as possible.

Their counter staff are highly incentived on a comission basis to sell, sell, sell at all costs.

Here are the top tricks/tactics of the rental car supplier :-

1. Advertise the car at the cheapest possible rental rate (to attract the customers)

2. When the client arrives at the desk, the very first thing they say, is that they will hold a large deposit on your credit card, normally at least 300 euro and sometimes as high as 1,000 €

They then obsever your recation, if you wince and they detect that your card will not permit such a large deposit, they will then offer you a daily excess rate, to reduce the deposit. This daily extra can be between 7-12 euros per day, sometimes higher.

They are working on the basis that most people do not have between 300-1000 credit available on their card, just to be held until the car is returned.

Therefore it is safe to assume that the client will take the daily extra excess fee and thereby earn the counter staff commission!

3. Insurance and deposits are separate items, but are linked. The size of the excess normally determines the size of the deposit. However even if you have zero excess, there will still remain a deposit, although it is likely to be reduced.

4. Fuel charges

5. Beware of the offer to include free of charge "zero excess" as it often does not cover windscreen, loss of keys, personal belongings etc... The reason these are offered by the supplier during the online booking process, is to persuade you to book a car that has this offer, rather than take the more comprehensive extra insurance cover offered by AXA, at STEP3 of our online booking process.

If the supplier can convince you to book the "offer" car, it is not until you arrive at the desk they reveal it still does not cover you for many things, and once again they then offer costly alternatives.


1. Online, do not necessarily choose the smallest or cheapest car, as larger cars often come with full/full fuel policies, unlimited mileage, and extra driver all thrown in.

2, Make a calculation on the mileage you will use, and the duration of the hire as often the Full/Empty fuel policy is cheaper overall.

3. Take screen shots of any special offers that appear on the website, during the booking process.

4. If at all possible ensure you have more than enough credit on your credit card. This is the single most powerful weapon you have to decrease charges. Many credit card companies will give you extra temporary increased credit for a short period, free of charge.

With enough credit you can simply refuse/decline any daily excess charges. If your excess is 750€ then let the counter staff hold that amount on your card.

It is a simple calculated risk you are taking, where you think that you will return the car with no damages or claims, and therefore the 750€ is returned to card, having paid no charges whatsoever. On the other hand if there are damages/losses you pay the first 750€ of any claim.

5. Take photographs of the car when you collect it and when you return it, especially if you use the key-drop box service, for out-of-hours return.

6. At the beginning of the hire, and especially at the end, check all paperwork and charges, ask for an explanation of what they are about to charge for.

Happy motoring !


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