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10 tips about car rental

- - 21. July 2016

If you do your homework, you can minimise the risk of problems and unexpected costs when you rent a car.

1. Choose a rental firm that you trust

It is a good idea to rent the car from home so that you have time to compare prices and insurance terms & conditions. It might be an advantage to choose a rental firm that also has an office in your country as this will make it easier to complain afterwards if you have problems. Make sure to get the rental contract and insurance terms & conditions in a language that you understand.

2. Car rental via a booking portal

If you rent a car via a booking portal, you should check the conditions thoroughly so that you know where to complain if you experience problems.

3. Check the price and insurance coverage

Find out what the price includes. For example, can you drive as much as you like, or will you be charged extra for each km? Also remember that it is your responsibility to ensure that you have the necessary insurance coverage. Check your existing coverage, e.g. via your travel insurance policy or your credit card, so that you buy only the coverage you need.

4. Understand the contract BEFORE signing

Familiarise yourself with the car rental firm’s rules and terms & conditions. Bring a printout of your online order and compare it with the pick-up form before you sign. In that way, you are sure that the terms & conditions are identical. Keep copies of all documents that you sign. Never sign an agreement in a language that you do not understand.

5. Pay by international credit card

Most car rental firms require that you pay by credit card so that they can reserve an amount on the card. It may be an advantage to bring an international credit card such as MasterCard, Diners or Eurocard instead of using a national payment card when you rent a car. Some European car rental firms reject payment cards such as the Visa/Dankort because they see it as a debit card, which means that they cannot reserve a deposit. In that case, you may have to buy extra insurance coverage before you can pick up the rented car you ordered and paid for from home.

6. Know what to do in connection with accidents or engine problems

Familiarise yourself with the procedure in connection with accidents or engine problems and observe it.  

Find out who to contact in connection with unforeseen events. Always follow the car rental firm’s instructions and do not have repairs made to the car without written permission from the firm. Immediately contact the police, car rental firm and insurance company if you are involved in an accident and you are not sure what to do. Note the names and addresses of all parties involved.

Also note that the insurance terms & conditions may state that a police report must always be made in connection with an accident if the insurance policy is to apply.

7. Inspect the car when you pick it up

When you pick up the car, inspect it for any damage, dents etc. together with an employee of the rental firm. Note the km reading, fuel gauge and any damage on the inspection report (pick-up form); otherwise you risk being held responsible. Keep a copy of the pick-up form.

If you are given a car in a lower class than the one you ordered, you are entitled to a price reduction. You do not have to pay extra if you are upgraded to a larger car because the car rental firm did not have any cars available in the class you ordered.

8. Return the car during the firm’s opening hours

Return the car during the firm’s opening hours so that you can be present when it is inspected. Avoid dropping off the car at the last minute. Make sure you have plenty of time to inspect the car together with an employee of the rental firm and note the car’s condition and fuel gauge in an inspection report to be signed by you and the employee. Keep a copy of the inspection report. You might want to take a few pictures of the car with the date as proof that it was returned in a good condition if you have to drop it off outside of the firm’s opening hours.

9. If the car rental firm withdraws money from your account

If, say, the car has not been filled up or is damaged when you drop it off, the car rental firm will cover its expenses by keeping a part of your deposit. In some cases, the car rental firm may also receive an invoice at a later date if the car was registered on a toll motorway or bridge while you were using it. The rental firm must be able to document any expenses; for example, it may only charge you for repairs if it can prove that you are responsible for the damage. If the rental firm withdraws money from your account without your approval, and you have paid by payment card, you should contact your bank in writing to hear about the possibilities of getting your money back.

10. Complaints about car rental

You must always make the complaint to the firm that you concluded the agreement with. Make a complaint to both the booking portal and the rental firm if you are not sure who you concluded the agreement with. In some cases, the booking portal may also be held responsible. If you believe that the car rental firm has withdrawn money from your account without authorisation, you must contact your bank. If it is not possible to reach a solution with the car rental firm, you can get help from European Consumer Centre Denmark.