Traveling abroad comes with a plethora of details to iron out before you are ready to pack your suitcase, but locking down a European car rental never seems to quite get the attention that it deserves.
To help you decide on whether, or not, you’d like to rent a car, we’ve mapped a few things the American traveler must know about renting a car in Europe. You can visit DriveNow website to learn more today.
European Car Rentals: The Benefits
Budget-savvy travelers tend to think that public transportation is going to save them the most money and headaches, but that actually isn’t the case.
- Train travel limits where you can find lodging, as you’ll need to stick close to the train; also, these establishments know they’re close by and will price accordingly.
A rental car allows you the freedom to find more budget-friendly accommodations in smaller towns just off the train lines. Also, you’ll never have to worry about full occupancy during peak season, as you can simply drive to the next town to find available lodging.
- If you’re traveling with several others, the cost of rail-passes will add up quickly!
Instead, split the cost of a rental car amongst those traveling with you, and be the hero of the whole group when you save everyone’s pocketbooks a little heartache.
European Car Rentals: Understand The Cost
Daily rates are expensive. By day 5, you’ll have already paid what a week would have cost. It’s far more budget-savvy to rent by-the-week, but you must book in advance, read the fine print, and fully understand what all of the added fees are going to be.
Some potential added fees are:
- TAX – Usually runs 18 to 25%, from country to country
- TOLLS – In countries such as Great Britain, or Germany, it’s free to drive on most expressways or on Germany’s infamous autobahn.
However, in most other countries you’ll need to purchase a special window sticker, or a “vignette”; prices for these stickers vary. For example, in Switzerland, you’ll pay approximately $44, $11 for Austria and the Czech Republic, around $14 for Slovakia or Hungary, and $21 in Slovenia. These stickers are available for purchase at gas stations, border checkpoints, and even post offices. Note: See if your rental already has a sticker that hasn’t yet expired! You might be able to save a few dollars.
Take note that in most Mediterranean countries, you will have to pay tolls that will range from $4 to $9 per hour (you’ll pay about $90 traveling from Paris to the French Riviera). Where window stickers are available, they’re definitely worth it!
- INSURANCE – Rentals that boast “includes insurance” don’t always provide full coverage and often you’ll need to pay around 30% extra, or $15-30 extra per day.
- FUEL – Be prepared that the cost of gas in Europe is more than the cost in the U.S. Always ask about fuel-efficient cars and save yourself some cash. In most regular vehicles, you can expect $160 to get you 700 miles.
- PARKING – If you’re visiting bigger cities, expect $25 to $40 per day
- THEFT INSURANCE – Usually an added fee of $20/day; required in Italy
- AIRPORT PICKUP – Agents will usually automatically quote you the Airport Pickup price, which runs 10 to 20% higher than if you pick up your rental downtown, or 100% higher as some agencies will deliver to your hotel for free.
- TANK REFUEL – You can prepay for a full tank and return the car on empty, or you can fill the tank yourself before returning. If the tank isn’t full upon return (say it’s 75% full), you will still be charged for a full tank.
- AUTOMATIC & MANUAL – Most European rentals are manual transmission; automatics are more expensive and sell out quickly. Book further in advance if you require an automatic! Most find an automatic easier on European roads, specifically within the UK and Ireland, where you’ll need to drive on the left side of the road, and therefore shift with the other hand.
- CONSIDER LEASING – Companies such as Europe by Car, offer great leasing opportunities (you essentially buy the car and sell it back). Leasing a Citroen C3 for 21 days might only run you $49 per day; the longer you lease, the less expensive your daily rate will be.
- OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER – Be sure to go over with the rental car agency where you’ll be driving the vehicle, as they may have a few helpful add-ons for you. For example, Italy requires drivers to carry an orange safety vest, as well as a safety kit; both of which, a rental car agency can provide for you.