Renting a car to travel around in another EU Member State could be the most practical and convenient way. Through the use of the internet consumers are more likely to shop around and book a car for the cheapest price possible. However one should analyse all the details available in order to avoid disappointments at a later stage.

If problems arise, more often than not consumers will end up dealing with them after returning the car. One could face other problems during the rental period like accidents and thefts. When possible problems that arise during the stay in the foreign country it is advisable that they are settled before the consumer leaves that country.

Currently there is no specific legislation regulating the industry of car rental. However consumers are protected by other legislation having a more general scope like Directive 2005/29/EC concerning unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices in the internal market and Directive and Directive 93/13/EC on Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts.

Some useful tips to consider when renting a car

Initial Stage

When searching for the best deal, you have to take into account that very often online quoted prices display only the basic price and do not include any extras. Double-check what is incorporated in the list and what is not. Be aware also that there might be airport and other location related surcharges.

Make sure that you know what type of insurance policy you are covered with.

Clarify the costs of any extras such as GPS, child seat, additional driver or any extra insurance that you may require.

An important issue to clarify before collecting the car relates to the fuel policy. Mainly there are two types of fuel policy:

  • Collect full return empty policy – means that if there is still fuel in the car’s fuel tank, the consumer will not be reimbursed for the remaining fuel.
  • Collect full return full policy – means that the car rental company will give you the car with a full fuel tank and when you should return the car with a full tank of fuel. You will be charged a fee by the car rental company if you do not comply.

When deciding to rent a car make sure that you are within the age restrictions of that particular country. Check also the traffic rules of the particular country that you are going to rent the car in as ignorance of the law is not an excuse

When Collecting the car

Before driving off with the car, make sure that you check the rented car with a representative of the company. If the car has a defect make sure that the particular defect is marked on a special check list or diagram. If there is no representative of the company present to inspect the car, make sure that you inspect it yourself and if you notice any damage, write down the information and make sure that an employee signs for that information written. Do not leave the premises before it is signed.

Other important things to check are necessary equipment such as spare wheel, necessary equipment to change the tyre etc. together with the compulsory documentation relating to the vehicle title and insurance tag.

One has to take his time in order to examine what is covered and what is not by the insurance policy. Besides you should know what to do in case of an emergency like for example the car breaks down or you are involved in an accident, as well as what is the amount of excess that may be charged from your credit card in case of such a claim.

Throughout the rental period

If anything happens to the rented car, you should immediately contact the car rental company and follow the instructions given. For any reason do not try to fix the car without any prior consent from the car company.

If an accident happens, you should note down all the relevant details of the persons involved. If there is an argument over who is responsible, notify the police and immediately contact the car rental company.

Delivering the car back to the car rental company

When delivering the car back to the car rental company make sure that you inspect the car together with a representative of the car rental company. Its condition should be signed for by the representative of the car rental company together with you. After the car check, it is important that the car rental company cancels the pre-authorization to debit the credit card.

If for any reason there is no representative, make sure that you park the car in the designated area and to collect evidence like photographs of the car as a confirmation that it was returned in the same condition as it was handed over to you.