Read the small print when booking car hire

With car hire it’s not generally the cheapest price that’s the best deal for you as you have to judge the quote on their final total truly inclusive price. We’re flying to Pisa for a week at the end of May 2008 and need to hire a car as we’re visiting rural Umbria and Lake Trasimeno. I booked the flights a few months ago and did start looking for car hire in January but gave up as it wasn’t easy to compare like with like.

However I thought I’d better get it sorted so after some evaluation I discovered that the best deal for us with no insurance excess to pay and 2 drivers included was with ecomonycarhire. As I’ve booked with them previously I received a 10% discount on the price for bookings made by 28 February by typing in the code EBNLD2008. This brought the price down to £157 for a supermini such as Fiat Panda. Italy is quite expensive for car hire as we paid £118 for a weeks car hire in the Canaries in November 2007.

AutoEurope would have been cheaper if there was only one driver at £140 with a refundable excess but they charge an additional driver fee of £5 per day, bringing the total price per day up to £175.

I had to be careful to read the small print. There was a quote which was £1 cheaper at £156. However that company charged an additional 20 euros plus VAT, around £17, for out of hours arrival as we are due in on a Saturday evening. The company quoting at £157, with whom I booked, operate until 23.00 on Saturdays, so no additional fees.

With the no excess offered by economycarhire and other companies such as AutoEurope you are not covered for damage to windscreens, tyres, undercarriage or the interior of the car. If you book a hire car for more than 2 weeks a year it could be worth your while purchasing an annual excess insurance policy which costs around £50 a year for Europe. This policy covers you for damage to windscreens, tyres etc. With this policy you could rent a car from AutoEurope for £130.

I know that sometimes it seems too much bother to spend all this time checking prices and reading the small print. Fair enough with a hotel room, so what if you pay another couple of pounds for the room but it’s a different matter with car hire, as you could end up paying an excess of up 1600 euros if you book with some companies on a so called all inclusive quote.