European car rental is riddled with pitfalls which can lead to you paying out far more than ever might have imagined. If you are planning to drive around the continent or even just one country in your European rental car then you should be aware of exactly what fees you might be asked to pay. There are plenty of charges that are added to the simple costs of hiring the car and most of them are avoidable if you know what they are, what the alternatives or even just know enough to say no. Plus, not all of the fees you might encounter originate with European rental car agencies. Being forewarned is being forearmed so here are 7 European Car Rental Fees to Avoid:
1. Crossing Borders
European car rental agencies will usually have depots all across Europe, but beware of charges which you may incur if you drop the car off at a different depot in a different country. For example, if you pick a car up from Paris and drop it off in Rome you may be hit with a fee of between $70 and $1,400. Make sure you check out these fees before choosing a specific rental car in Europe.
2. Winter Travel
If you are traveling in a country where winter conditions can be hazardous then you may be hit with additional fees in order to pay for winter tires. There is no way to avoid this so when the fees are added on you should consider whether it’s worth taking a car as your mode of transportation or not. Also, consider if you are comfortable driving in these conditions. Roads in the Alps for instance are notoriously difficult and when covered in snow or ice can be somewhat precarious.
3. Airports and Train Stations
One fee which catches a lot of people out is the Premium Station Fee. This is a charge of roughly $30-$60 (depending on the country) or it can even be 20% of the total rental rate added on to your bill for having your European rental car delivered to a train station or airport ready for your arrival. Avoid this by picking your car up from the agency or check the charge for having the car delivered to your hotel (check the price though). However, you should remember that there is no charge on returning your car to an airport or train station.
4. Filler up
European car rental agencies love to catch people out with unfilled tank fees. If you agreed that you would fill the tank up before you return the car and then forgot all about it then you can expect to be hit with a charge. This can be roughly $12 plus the price of the gas itself, which is often inflated. Just to be on the safe side you should remember to show the car company your receipt so you can prove that you filled the tank up.
5. Don’t Be Late!
There used to be an hour’s grace period for the return of a rental car in Europe, but in some countries this is now down to 29 minutes. Bring your car back after this time and you will be slapped with the cost of an additional day’s rental. Avoid this by turning up on time!
6. Sneaky Permits
Your rental car in Europe will need to have certain permits, but most rental car companies will pass this on to you as a tax or an additional fee. It’s impossible to avoid this but if you book online with certain companies then you will at least know what you are paying for.
7. Understand the Fees
One of the best ways to be cognizant of what you are actually paying for is to book your rental car in Europe in advance of your trip. Firstly, this allows you to shop around for the best deals and secondly you have the time to peruse the contract before handing over your credit card details. Read the small print carefully and check for the fees listed above.
European car rental companies are always looking to catch people out with extortionate or additional fees, as that’s where they increase their profits, but using these tips you won’t be caught out. These 7 European Car Rental Fees to Avoid certainly shouldn’t put you off driving in Europe. A driving tour of Europe or any of the individual countries makes for a fabulous vacation.
Did you ever have any issues with additional fees with a rental car? Or, if you have some tips to share, please do.
Top Photo Credit: valkar2011