Hiring a car can be a pretty daunting prospect and it’s no wonder why; All of the small print and multiple insurance options, what have I signed up for? Was breakdown cover included? What happens if I have an accident? All this isn’t helped by those horror stories of unscrupulous companies piling on extra charges that you need a degree in advanced algebra to understand.
However, using online companies means that you can compare car hire prices from different rental companies from the comfort of your laptop rather than ringing around or walking into the nearest rental company at the airport. And, in order to wade through the minefield of terms and conditions, we have created an Aussie rules guide to car hire, which will help to translate any of the lingo you may come across, into something resembling understandable.
Check The Fuel Policy
Different companies have their own policy when it comes to fuel. A common one is that you pick up the car with a full tank and return it as empty as you can. This is good if you are not feeling confident enough to use a petrol station abroad but, if you don’t travel enough to empty the tank, it means you are paying for fuel you don’t use. So decide what’s best for your circumstances and be aware of this policy when shopping around.
Common Extra Charges
Companies that do require the hire car to be returned with a full tank will charge you much more than the same amount at a gas station, so make the effort to find a gas station near to where the car is to be returned and do it yourself for less. Insurance excess, this is the same as your own car insurance excess if the vehicle is damaged on return. It’s so, so important to check the vehicle thoroughly for any existing damage before you drive it off the lot so you are not held liable for it. Some companies offer an extra insurance to even cover the excess, so regardless of damage, you won’t be liable for any charge. In Australia this is commonly termed a Loss Damage Waiver (LDW). A similar policy is the Excess Reduction Fee (ERF) which, as it sounds, just brings down the price of the excess. Make sure you take an accident report telephone number from the rental company at the time of booking.
These vary slightly from state to state, so if you’re travelling through more than one state, do your research on the driving laws in each one.
Are You Old Enough?
In Australia, most car rentals will require the driver to be 25 years of age and hold a full driving licence, which you will need to produce before you will be allowed to take the vehicle. Younger drivers may still be able to hire, but will have many additional charges, much higher insurance fees and only be permitted to hire a vehicle from a limited group. Your driving licence should be in English with your photo ID and signature.
This is the charge you will pay for being picked up from the airport or hiring your vehicle at the airport. Airports charge the rental companies this fee, which they pass on to the customer. If you wanted to save some money, find a car hire company near the airport, but not in it.
And remember, read over the agreement before you sign it and ASK if there is any part you don’t understand. You won’t be the first.
Experienced freelance writer, Lara Anderson, wrote this article. Lara specializes in providing travel advice for all destinations around Australia.