Guide to Car Rental in the United Kingdom
Hiring a car can be a convenient way to travel, whether for business or pleasure- you can choose from a wide variety of makes and models, you only pay for the service while you are using it, and best of all you have the comfort and freedom of controlling your own schedule, without the restrictions of public transport.
The best way to ensure that hiring a car is as stress free as possible is to plan as much as possible in advance. Before you start looking up rates, decide how long you are going to need the car for, how many miles you will be covering and what type of car you will require for your journey.
Car rental companies charge, for the most part, daily or weekly rates. Be realistic about the likelihood that you will need an extra day or two and factor it in accordingly- it may be cheaper to pay a weekly rate than pay for six days and a last minute additional day on top. You might find that part days, and partial weeks are charged as full ones.
Some car rental rates will include a limited amount of mileage, some will charge by the mile and there are some all inclusive unlimited mileage rates too. Consider which is most cost effective for you based on whether you can specify exactly how far you will be travelling, or whether you will be driving as you please. Any additional drivers must be specified within the contract, or the consequences should they be discovered can be serious.
It is best to figure out the smallest, comfortable model appropriate for your journey and reserve that- remembering that cars are assigned by availability and you may not receive the one you requested, you may be upgraded. On the other hand, be prepared that you may just as likely have to drive the car you reserved so it should be acceptable. Also bear in mind while comparing car rental companies that definitions vary according to the individual- a model that one company lists as “compact”, another may list as “midsized”.
Research any discounts or deals you may be entitled to. Some credit card companies or frequent flyer programs, even corporate travel accounts, offer car rental discounts. Weekends, seasonal deals, availability and demand also affect rates so it is worth asking if there are any deals available. Some may be available over the phone but not online, or in regional offices rather than the central one.
While being properly insured is important, you may already be covered by your motor insurance, so check before paying unnecessary premiums to the rental company. It is also advisable to make sure you are within the rental company’s requirements for car hire- there will be a minimum and perhaps even a maximum age limit, and some companies can run checks on your license.
Now that you are properly prepared, you should be able to enjoy the freedom of the open road with less to worry about and more money to spend!