How to save money on Car Hire in Europe

So car hire is one of those things that can look cheap when you’re booking initially, but when you add up the cost of petrol, insurance and all the other add-ons, it can end up being quite expensive. So what are some ways to save on car hire?

1. Book in Advance

calendar (1)

Make sure you book 2-3 months in advance if you want the most savings. If you’re hiring a car for extended period of time especially in the summer, it may be worthwhile booking even earlier than that.

2. Compare Prices


So everyone knows the big car hire companies like Hertz, Budget and Europcar, but what about the lesser known reputable companies? There are now plenty of car price comparison website which allow you look at all the different prices of cars offered from plenty of companies so make sure you have a look there first.

Have a look at Travel Supermarket or Kayak as a starting point.

3. Get Cashback


Once you’ve compared prices, check if your the individual car hire company offers cashback for the hire. Most rental companies are offering between 6-10% cashback. Make sure to compare the prices that are offered by the comparison sites vs. the company’s sites (via the cashback site) as there may be a difference in prices. Occasionally some companies increase the price if they know you are trying to get cashback.

Sign up to Quidco using this link to receive £5 once you get your receive your first £5 cashback.

If you’re not too sure what Cashback is, have a look here.

4. Relocation Deals


When people book car hire, they often book one way which means the car is returned in a different city. So how do these car hire companies get these cars back to the starting point? Relocation deals – that’s how! Essentially the hire companies allow you to rent these cars for a ridiculously cheap rate (often as low as £1 per day) and give you a time frame as to when the car needs to arrive in a particular city. This is particularly useful for people who are quite flexible with their travel plans. Now keep in mind that these offers are not always widely publicized at it may be worth calling up the individual centres if you had a particular trip in mind.

Have a look at the relocation deals on offer for:

Car Rental


Campervan Rental

Spaceship Rentals

5. Promotional Codes


Car rental companies often have promo codes which can save you a further 20% off the price. They are however quite random and during off-peak times.

Have a look at Promotional Codes UK and type in the specific car hire companies to see if there are any current codes available.

6. GPS Hire


If you’re hiring a car, then more often than not you probably don’t own a GPS. Unfortunately car hire companies charge a ridiculous amount for GPS hire ranging between £12-£14 per day! So you can you have a couple of options:

  • Buy a cheap GPS on Ebay/Amazon – this is probably only worthwhile if you plan on doing quite a few road trips
  • Use Google Maps on your smartphone. You must pre-load the individual country/city maps on your phone by type in the location, typing in ‘ok maps’ and download the maps. This can be useful for short journeys however can become difficult for multi-day car trips as it significantly drains the battery and often requires you to have data connection if you’re looking for a specific point of interest which isn’t always available when you’re in the middle of nowhere
  • SatNav Saviour – these guys offer GPS hire for only £2.75 per day and have the device mailed directly FREE of charge to your UK address or if you are visiting the UK, they can mail to your hotel (you must be returning to the UK during your trip to be able to post the device back to the company). If you use the PROMO code ‘Thrifty‘ they will offer you a further 10% off.

sat nav prices

7. Insurance


It goes without saying that you need insurance for your car hire, no matter how short the journey is. The rental companies will always offer you their insurance which whilst convenient, comes at a premium price. There are now specialist insurance companies who offer car hire insurance and a significantly reduced price such as Car Hire Excess (fr £1.89 per day or £37.99 a year), Direct Car Access (fr £2.58 per day or £42 per year) or Insurance for Car Hire (fr £3.99 per day or £39.99 a year). Most car hire companies charge anywhere between £10-£15 per day and they are great at the hard-sell, so if you’ve got your own insurance, don’t be surprised if they tell you ‘it won’t cover you, you still need our insurance’.

8. Petrol/Diesel

Hand holding a petrol pump against a white background

The hire companies often have their own rate for petrol, and surprisingly this is usually cheaper than the rate offered by petrol stations. So we usually pre-pay for our petrol if possible. If they don’t offer this service then we make sure to always return the car with a full tank of petrol otherwise you will be charged a significant surcharge.

Now currently the price of Diesel is about 20 cents cheaper than petrol and generally it is known to be more efficient in the short-term. So if possible, it may be worth hiring a car running on diesel

9. Manual vs Automatic


If you want to save a heap load of money – learn to drive a manual. The majority of car hire companies in Europe charge almost double for automatic cars, mainly because they are just not as commonly used. So for every 10 cars they have on offer, there is only usually 1 automatic available.


Hope that helps

Happy travels


Ann & Jason xo.

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