I managed to work out how to post the article about how not to get ripped off hiring a car in Spain.
It is written by a chap that comes to Mojacar numerous times a year but would apply to anywhere in Spain...
Car Hire Tips
Here are some tips I have picked up when renting cars on line in Spain.
These are mainly for renting via the large on-line companies – in the interests of balance there are other companies that come highly recommended on the Mojacar Forums (Al Andalus and Costa Coches get consistently high ratings). I have never used either of these so I cannot comment personally but those have used them do rate their services.
To be clear these are both comparison type websites that act as a search engine for most of the major rental companies at all the main airports – they dont have any cars themselves.
I have found that these give consistently cheaper rates compared to going direct to the rental companies
Finding the right car
When searching for cars there are a number of things to consider.
a) Car size – generally the bigger the car the more expensive it will be – if you need more than 5 seats then it gets very expensive. If there’s only 2 of you then even the smallest cars are perfectly fine and they will all handle the motorways etc no problem. If you need 4 or 5 seats then also consider something like a Berlingo/Partner van type – these tend to be cheaper than say a Ford Focus because they’re not as well known and therefore not as popular – but they are great for carrying passengers and luggage – ok might not be as sporty or attractive as a normal 4 door saloon but you’re renting it for 2 weeks, not buying it for life and could save you a whole lot of money.
b) On airport or off airport. I have used both and I have to say off-airport can be a bit of a pain. On-airport cars are parked across the road from the terminals in the main car park, usually no more than a 5 minute walk and you pick up and return the car to the same place. Off-airport involves getting a minibus to a location away from the airport to pick up the car (and again when you return it) – involves carting luggage around, delays and also you have to find the return location again when taking it back. Doyouspain have a search option to include/exclude off-airport rental companies.
c) Hire companies – again I can only speak from personal experience … I have used most of the main rental companies several times without any problems. The only one I avoid is Goldcar. These are probably the most popular rental company (certainly one of the biggest). They always seem to have huge queues when collecting the car but the reason I avoid them is that they have twice told me the car is only insured third party only and I was liable for all damage to the rental car in the event of an accident (which I wasn’t liable for). Doyouspain allow you to select and deselect which rental companies to use so you can easily exclude them.
d) Dates and Times – You are charged for each 24 hour period so make sure that the time you drop the car off at is slightly before the time you pick it up at (if possible) to avoid an extra days charge – this normally works out that way anyway if you are getting the same flight home as you arrived on.
e) Keep checking – Car rental prices fluctuate all the time. Often the prices go down so its worth checking regularly to see if they have. You can cancel and get a full refund right up to the day before your rental begins so you could save money if the price has dropped
Often baffling but generally you have to accept that you will be overcharged for fuel and factor this into the rental price.
There are three main fuel options
a) Full / Full – Pick the car up full and return it with a full tank. Even if doing this you will usually be charged a “service charge” of about 25 Euros on top of the actual fuel cost
b) Full / Empty – Pick the car up and return it empty – the advantage is that you don’t have to stop near the airport to refuel but the disadvantage is that its virtually impossible to take it back empty so any fuel left in the car is lost (as you won’t normally get any refund for it)
c) Full/Full with doyouspain – there is now an option on the doyouspain website to search for the full/full option – using this option does mean that if you take the car back full then you do get a full refund and no there are no service charge costs
CDW (Collision Damage Waiver) is the usual level of cover offered by default.
This is the equivalent of fully comprehensive insurance so in the event of an accident then all third party damage and damage to the rental car are covered, EXCEPT you are liable for the excess amount.
Certain things however are exempt and these will be spelled out on the agreement – typically these are wheels, tyres, glass (windscreen etc).
The rental companies will offer you additional insurance to cover all these exemptions and to reduce your excess to zero – they will try very hard to sell you this as that’s where they make their money. DO NOT buy this, its horrendously expensive, often more expensive than the price of the rental.
Doyouspain will also offer to sell you this for about half of what the rental companies will charge – again I would advise against it as still not good value.
I protect against these exemptions and excesses by taking out an annual insurance policy precisely for this – it covers all excesses etc and is a valid for a whole year, unlimited number of rentals.
There are several internet companies offering this, I use www.carehireexcess.com – an annual unlimited use policy for Europe costs £37.99.
The only caveat on this is that I’ve not had to make a claim yet so I can’t vouch for that side of their business
NOTE: If you have your own insurance they will normally block out up to 1000 Euros on your credit card to cover any excess when you collect the car – this is only a block though, the money is not actually taken out.
Collecting your Car
The rental companies will obviously want to try and upsell as much as they can so this is where you need to be confident, know what you’ve bought and don’t be pressured into things you don’t need.
I always greet the agent with a cheery smile and try to make my first words in Spanish – even if its just an “Hola, Buenas Dias/Tardes/Noches” etc. They’ll often ask if you’ve rented a car before – always say yes you have (even if you haven’t) and if you haven’t used this rental company before just say you have rented with other companies before but not used their company.
Be prepared – there are only four things that you need – have them all ready to show (again shows them you know what you’re doing). You need passport, driving licence, rental voucher and credit card. Hand over the rental voucher and put the others on the counter straight away as soon as its your turn to be served.
If you’ve purchased your own insurance for the excesses (see section above) then as soon as they first ask about insurance say politely but confidently and firmly – “no thanks I’ve already got my own insurance to cover everything” – that normally stops that conversation straight away. If they persist it’s a case of “no thanks, I know what I’m covered for and I’m happy that I’ve got what I need”
That done its time to collect the car – this bit is REALLY IMPORTANT !!
If there are any scratches or dents to the car then the agent should have already marked these on the rental agreement (there’s a plan of the car layout on it) – you absolutely MUST inspect the car closely and if there are any marks or dents not shown then go back to the agent (or one of their staff in the car park) and get them to amend it. Whats on that diagram is what will be checked against when the car is returned. If its dark then its not always easy but move the car to where there is as much light as possible and then check it.
I also take pictures of the car when I pick it up (from all four sides), especially if damage has already been marked on the sheet.
Collection can take some time so another tip (might not be for everyone, especially if you aren’t familiar with the airport) is that I have all the documents reqd for the rental and go straight to the rental desk to sort out the paperwork whilst my partner collects the bags etc, just saves a bit of time
Returning your Car
Again similar rules for when collecting the car – be confident, greet in Spanish etc. You won’t need any documents to hand over but its useful to have the rental agreement with you – especially if scratches or dents were shown on it.
Firstly make sure you completely empty the car – I know its obvious but … check the boot, all the door pockets, glovebox and the one everyone forgets .. the CD player !
When you drop the car off at the returns section of the car park there will either be a staff member waiting there to check it or if not then you go to the office and someone will come along.
When they are checking the car make sure you take pictures of it from all sides whilst they are watching you do it – this shows them you know what you’re doing. Do not feel embarrassed about doing this, its for your protection. If they ask why you’re doing that (unlikely but they may) then say you’ve been stung by other companies before.
Get a verbal agreement first that there is no damage and then most importantly get them to either give you a final invoice confirming no further payment due, or if that’s not available then write on the rental agreement “No damage, full refund due” and ask them to stamp it.