If you're ready to take a self-drive holiday in Europe (hopefully my article Is driving in Europe hard? convinced you that it's not!), the next step in the process is to find the best rental car deal. Regular readers will know that I’m a real planner and when it comes to organizing my holidays to Europe, I like to have the majority (if not all) my reservations in place well before I leave home., and there are a few ways that I make sure I get the best deal possible.
Early bird deals
If you’re able to plan well ahead, my advice is to do so. Not only will you be able to benefit from the early booking discounts on offer from the various rental car companies, you’ll also have a larger choice of vehicles sizes and types to choose from.
Car hire companies usually release their early bird specials via their booking agents around September/October each year. The offers usually apply for cars collected the following year and in most cases the rental has to be paid in full by the end of February. For example, if you need a hire car in Europe in July 2015, you could book in October 2014 and pay in full by the end of February 2015 to secure the early bird rate.
Car hire consolidators
In my experience, using a specialist car hire consolidator like globalCARS or DriveAway Holidays usually results in finding the best rates. As these consolidators are agents for numerous car rental companies they are able to compare rates and find the best deal for you. The rates available from different car hire companies can vary depending on your pick up and drop off location, the size of vehicle you want to hire and the various specifications of the car such as whether you want a manual or automatic vehicle, petrol or diesel model, etc. By using a car hire consolidator, they can do all the hard work and make all the price comparisons on your behalf.
Leasing can be another way to save money on the cost of your car hire in Europe. If you require a car for at least 21 days, the tax-free leasing program offered by Peugeot, Renault and Citroen, is worth considering. I’ve written a more detailed article about tax-free leasing but in summary, the longer you lease the vehicle for, the cheaper it works out per day. A 39-day lease in 2014 worked out at less than $50 per day for my husband and I.
The French manufacturers that offer the tax-free leasing scheme also offer early bird rates. Like early bird car hire deals these are usually released in September or October for collections the following year, with full payment due by the end of February.
Do you have any tips for getting the best hire car deal in Europe? Please share them in the comments below.
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