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

If problems arise, you will often end up dealing with them after returning the car. One could face other problems during the rental period like accidents and thefts. If problems regarding car rental arise during your stay in a foreign country, it is advisable that they are settled before leaving.

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 93/12/EC on Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts

When searching for the best deal, you must take into account that very often, quoted prices online display only the introductory price and do not include any extras. Double-check what is incorporated in the terms and conditions to ensure that you get the right deal at the right price.  Sometimes the displayed price may change, and it might be expensive later. Picking the car out of office hours may result in an administrative fee charged by the car rental company.

When deciding to rent a car, make sure that you are within the age restrictions of that country. Furthermore, make sure to check the country’s traffic rules that you are going to rent the car in since ignorance of the law is not an excuse.

Make sure to check the cancellation policy of the car rental company in case of cancellation.

Useful tips

  • Check for other consumers’ reviews before booking online. Be aware if there are several negative reviews.
  • Clarify the costs of any extras such as GPS, child seat, additional driver, or any extra insurance that you may require to be fully covered.
  • Make sure that you know the type of insurance policy you are covered. Our advice is always to book the full protection provided by the car rental company. There is nothing wrong with purchasing private insurance, but you must keep in mind that you will have to personally pay the excess, which is then reclaimable from your private insurance in case of an accident or damage.
  • If you decide to opt for private insurance, you must make sure that you have enough money on your credit card (usually between €1100 -€2500 depending on the vehicle category) as in case of an accident, this pre-authorised amount will be automatically deducted. If you purchase the insurance provided by the car rental company, it is expected that you are asked for a small sum as a deposit (usually €200) to be used in case of traffic fines. Both amounts are reimbursed if there are no accidents or traffic fines during the hired period.
  • Thus, you must read the policy well and ask for clarifications if you are not sure about a particular term. If you take the insurance policy provided by the car rental company, always make sure that you are also covered for damaged windscreen and tyres.

Keep in mind that when you are booking through an online platform/broker, the broker is responsible for fulfilling the lease agreement.

Note: If you plan to drive the rented vehicle through several countries within the EU, EEA (European Economic Area), and outside of these, you must inform your rental company of this when booking the vehicle. In this way, you ensure that the vehicle documentation, insurance, traffic rules and breakdown cover are compliant in every jurisdiction you will be driving in.

An important issue to clear before collecting the car relates to the fuel policy. Mainly there are three types of fuel policies:

  • Collect full return empty policy – meaning that if there is still fuel in the car’s fuel tank, you will not be reimbursed for the remaining fuel
  • Collect full return full policy – meaning that the car rental company will give you the car with a full fuel tank and when you return the car; it should be with a full tank of fuel. Keep in mind that if you do not comply, you will be charged for the missing fuel together with an administrative fee according to the company’s terms and conditions.
  • Pay for used fuel policy – You will pay for the used fuel; however, keep in mind that there might be other costs, and usually, the fuel price is higher.

Take pictures of the fuel gauge when picking up and return the car.

Before driving off with the car, make sure that you check the rented car with a company representative. If the car has a defect, make sure that the defect is marked on a special checklist 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 the information written. Do not leave the premises before it is signed.

Check if the vehicle is equipped with the necessary equipment such as a spare wheel, tyre kit…, together with the required documentation relating to the vehicle title and insurance tag.

Take your time to examine what is covered and what is not by the insurance policy.

Once with the representative, make sure that you inspect the car well, and if you notice any dents or scratches, highlight them to the car rental company representative and make sure that they are marked before leaving with the car. It is advisable that you take photos of the car, especially where you notice any dent or scratch, together with photos of the fuel gauge and the odometer. 

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 rental company.

If an accident occurs, 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 and follow the instructions of the car rental company given when you picked the car. In case of an accident, some rental companies require a police accident report so that they can reclaim the expenses to repair the damage through insurance. It would be best if you take pictures of the accident as this might serve as proof. 

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, make sure that the car rental company cancels the pre-authorisation to debit the credit card.

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

As a rule, cars returned outside working hours are inspected for damage on the following day, so if damaged, damage costs can be charged to the consumer at a later stage.

Are you satisfied?