OK so this is a bit of a moan but I’d like to know why there are big differences in hire agreements with car rental firms.
Where the whole system falls down – and I’ve seen many people caught out by this – is the credit card policy. Some car rental companies insist on you leaving your credit card details with them to cover damage costs if you don’t take out the extra insurance. I don’t have a problem with this in principle but I don’t like the terms and conditions some rental companies apply.
Like many families, we have our regular 2 week summer holiday in July/August and as we like to get around and see different parts of the country we’re visiting I rent a car when I’m there. I usually book in advance and tend to go for a mid- sized family car to accommodate the 4 of us and our luggage. I then have the usual choices – the option to collect the car at the airport or pay slightly less and take the short hop complimentary minibus to the hire place offsite ( I usually go for the former as with 2 grumpy kids and a load of luggage to ferry around it’s just easier).
When I arrive at the desk I’m taken through the additional extras, insurance, windscreen cover and so on. I rarely take the extra insurance but have done on occasion. Then there’s the fuel option – full to empty or full to full. This is all pretty standard procedure and like most I know the routine quite well by now.
I’ve used many different hire companies over the years and the amount of credit they require you to have on your card differs enormously. Some around £1,200 but others can be as much as £4,000. I’ve seen people turned away with no car because they didn’t have enough credit on their card. One rental company I used asked the person in front of me to make up the credit shortfall with cash. They actually wanted him to leave £2000 with them – “but you’ll get it back if there are no accidents sir” was their feeble assurance – In the meantime he has a 2 week holiday with no money to spend. Of course he walked away without a car and with a family facing the prospect of getting the bus back to the airport (it was an off site hire company). I know he should have checked the small print but who does that?
There are hire companies that don’t require any credit cover whether you take out extra insurance or not – Budget being one. I tend to go for these now. I just don’t get this policy – if you wrote the car off and it your insurance didnt cover it, £1200 is hardly going to take care of the costs – neither is £4,000 for that matter. So, either have a standard cover credit or none at all. That way we all know where we stand and there are no nasty surprises at the airport. I’d like to know what others think.