We compare a range of one-way and return car hire deals from over 20 leading rental companies
Whether you’re planning an epic road trip or just need a set of wheels to get from A to B on your next holiday, finding your perfect car hire isn’t just about scoring a cheap deal. From the type of car and transmission type (are you mad for manual or all about automatic?) to pick-up location and the provider, there’s a lot to consider!
That’s why we’ve teamed up with TravelSupermarket to bring you thousands of cheap car hire deals from more than 20 trusted providers. From Avis and Alamo to Enterprise and Sixt, we’ll help you compare cheap deals in minutes so you can hit the road for less on your next holiday!
How do I find a good price on car hire?
The best way to find a good price on car hire? Compare all the deals out there, of course! Car hire can cost under £20 per day, depending on the type of car you fancy, how long you need it for and the destination and car hire company you’re renting from.
Keep in mind that the price can vary drastically, especially if you’re after car hire in 2023 – many car hire companies sold off some of their stock during the Covid-19 pandemic meaning prices have skyrocketed as summer demand comes back. The takeaway? It’s never more important to compare before you book! Start your search early to stand the best chance of finding a good deal, making sure to compare everything from transmission to fuel type and pick-up location to the number of doors.
At icelolly.com, we’ve teamed up with TravelSupermarket to put thousands of car hire deals side by side so you can choose a deal that’s right for you.
What do I need to hire a vehicle?
Hiring a car in both the UK and abroad is simple! In general, all you’ll need to fulfil those road trip dreams is a valid driving licence, additional ID (usually a passport) and a credit or debit card to cover the deposit. Usually, you’ll need to have held your licence for at least a year, sometimes more – your chosen car hire provider should make this information available before you book.
In some countries, such as Australia, Canada and the USA, you will also need an International Driving Permit (IDP). There are three types of IDP, depending on the country you’re visiting. You can get them over the counter at your local Post Office for £5.50.
Some providers may also ask for a DVLA check code, which allows them to easily see your driving record. Having points on your licence can affect your ability to hire a car or the cost of your rental so check with the car hire company before you book. As a general rule, up to six points for less serious offences won’t affect your chances.
How old do you need to be to rent a car?
The minimum age for renting a car varies by country and provider, though it can be young as 18. In the UK and many EU countries, for example, it’s possible to hire a car at 18 if you’ve held a full, valid driving licence for at least a year. In the US, the minimum age for car hire is usually 20 – as long as you’ve had a full valid driving licence for at least a year.
Under 25? Expect to pay a Young Driver fee in addition to the cost of the rental. And that the flashy red convertible of your top-down coastal driving fantasy is probably out of reach – generally, you’ll won’t get anything fancier than an economy or compact-class car. Check the costs and terms and conditions with your car hire company before parting with your money.
How do deposits work for rental cars?
You will need to leave a deposit when renting a car. While it’s recommended to use a credit card for this to avoid any issues, many major rental companies also accept debit cards – just remember you’ll need enough money to cover the deposit, which can even be over £3,000.
It’s unlikely you’ll be able to rent a car with cash only.
Do I need insurance to rent a car?
In most parts of the world (the US and Canada are notable exceptions), basic insurance is included in the price of your car hire. It’s usually called Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) or Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) and it covers damage to certain parts of the car, theft and Third Party Liability Insurance.
Even with this basic insurance, you’ll still be up for the ‘excess’ – that’s the first part of any insurance claim you may need to make – which is usually between £500 and £2,000. And it’s low-level damage to areas such as the tyres, paintwork, windscreen and undercarriage that catch people out in this area, as the mark-up on repair costs can be huge.
One way to avoid big excess costs in the event of an accident is to take out a car hire excess insurance policy. You may be pushed to purchase a policy at the pick-up desk, but a standalone policy bought online in advance, such as with iCarhireinsurance.com, can be a cheaper option. It’s something to consider for peace of mind while you’re on the road.
What do I need to know about dropping off my car hire?
If your car hire comes with a full-to-full or same-to-same fuel policy, you’ll need to fill up with petrol before returning the vehicle. Some car hire companies will also require you to clean the car before you drop it off – ask the representative during pick up or check the terms and conditions.
Need to return the car after hours? As there won’t be a representative to check for new damage, you may also want to take photos before you leave. That way, if anything happens to the vehicle before morning, you’ll have evidence that you returned it in good condition.
What hidden charges or additional fees might I incur?
Adding an additional driver to your booking, or extras such as car seats and satnavs, can increase the cost of your car hire. Consider whether they are essential (some airlines allow you to bring a car seat at no extra cost, for example) and if so, add them at the time of your booking as it’s often cheaper.
Unless you’ve damaged the rental car haven’t cleaned or refuelled it if you were required to do so, you’re unlikely to face any additional fees.
Are there any Covid-19 restrictions on car rental?
Generally, there are no Covid-19 restrictions on renting a car. However, expect to see a few changes during pick up and drop off. Not only are car hire providers taking extra hygiene measures, such as social distancing and increased cleaning, many also offer accelerated or contactless pick-up. Companies such as Alamo and Sixt, for example, allow you to finalise the pick-up process for select locations online or through an app and go straight to your car.
Many car hire providers have also introduced flexible booking policies as a result of the pandemic, meaning you can usually get a refund up to 48 hours before pick up. You’ll want to check the terms and conditions for pre-paid rentals as it varies by provider but if you chose to pay on the day, you won’t face a cancellation fee.
FAQs – car hire
Can you rent a car and drop it off in another city?
Yes, you can rent a car in one city and drop it off in another. It’s known as one-way rental, and it’s offered by most major rental companies. Be aware that there may be an additional fee.
Can you rent a car same day?
Yes, you can rent a car on the same day but it’s still worth comparing prices online as it can work out cheaper than going directly to the rental desk. Don’t forget to check out standalone car hire excess insurance policies online, too.
What happens if I pick up my rental car late?
If you’re late to pick up your car hire, you may be marked as a ‘no show’ and risk your car being rented to someone else. While most companies offer a grace period of up to two hours (check the T&Cs), it’s best to call ahead if you know you’re going to be late.
What happens if you bring a rental car back early?
You won’t be charged if you need to return your car early – but you won’t be refunded for the unused days, either.