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Rent-a-car in Europe: An obstacle course

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Rent-a-car in Europe: An obstacle course


Credit card guarantee. Deposit fee. Insurance. Fuel. Damages… and the checklist goes on.
Renting a car may seem to be the easiest and cheapest option to travel around in Europe but only till you receive an invoice charging you for insurance you never signed up for or damages that never occurred.
With fuel prices skyrocketing throughout Europe, there has been a 2.5 percent increase in pump costs over the past month in the UK alone. Let’s say one wants to make a trip from Paris to Barcelona. Fuel alone would cost 234 euros for a return trip.

Not forgetting additional toll charges that would bring the cost up to a minimum of 370 euros. Now add to this the rental car company charges depending on the type and size of car you want and the number of days you want to rent for. If you opt to take a flight, however, the fare can be as low as 70 euros for a return trip while taking a train would cost a minimum of 100 euros.
There’s also the trap of hidden charges that many fall victim to.
Below is what a traveller from Germany posted on an online forum in May:
“We just returned from a vacation and were absolutely shocked and livid at finding two charges, one for $1,100 that had cleared and another pending for $790”
In reading through Trip Advisor and other forums, this car “damages” scam in Germany and other countries is not unusual. This is outright fraud as far as I’m concerned.”
Such rental car frauds are becoming more and more common. That’s because once rental car companies acquire your credit card information for guarantee purposes, it becomes very easy for them to charge your card as they deem fit.
Furthermore, if you ask for a car with a full tank, the company will charge you more than what it would cost if you filled up the tank yourself. And if you choose to return the car with a full tank, you need to make sure it is entirely full because many companies find it easy to charge a “refuel cost”.

Your list of bills can get even longer from early or late return of the car, returning to a different branch, additional drivers, drivers under the age of 25, extra child car seats and renting during peak seasons.
So make sure you are alert at all times – before, during and after hitting Europe’s motorways!

Also read: Train, plane or automobile: what’s the cheapest way to go on holiday?

European Commission: Car hire – What are my rights in Europe?

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