Help Me Choose

A Guide To Car Rental

To help you get what you need our simple checklist provides some money saving tips.

Key requirements to consider

We have a detailed section on each one.


How long do you want it for? - hours/days/weeks?


Will you be going far? check your mileage allowances

Driving Licence

Will you be the sole driver?


What is the fuel type and does it need to be full on return


Make sure any damage is noted prior to start and check contract for excesses etc


Do you need drop off, return to same place, one way rental?


Rental is typically calculated by days, so for example 10.00am pick up to 2.00pm the next day could be 2 days hire, so check on the pricing is it set by day or hour. 

Need it for a few hours? If you want something for a few hours and it is a regular requirement then joining a car rental club could be what you need. Here you may be charged a subscription but you will have access to an electronic key which enables you to self serve, booking a vehicle when you need it and locate it (these are stored in central city locations), simply use the electronic key to open, use the vehicle as needed and you will be billed for what you use. 

Alternatively if you need a rental for the weekend, a few days, weeks or months special rates may be available so check with your supplier beforehand. You may also use a broker to find the cheapest rates as they compare different suppliers saving you time.


Consider how far you are expecting to travel. Have a look at the agreement closely are there any stipulations about total mileage in a given period. 

You may be exposed to excess mileage clauses but these should be stipulated and will be expressed as a pence per mileage excess costs, so nasty surprises at the end. 

If during the rental period if it is for a lengthy period of time the rental company may ask you to change the vehicle, this is because they need to ensure their fleet does not do too much mileage on specific vehicles, check with them if you are hiring for a longer period.

Driving Licence

The rental agreement will as standard include insurance provision, (check with your supplier). As part of the insurance provision your licence will need to be checked to ensure it is valid and suitable, note larger vans require different licence provisions. 

Your rental provider will typically ask for a code to enable them to check your licence on your behalf, this ensures only you as the driver can access your details. It's a simple process which you can follow on line at Gov.UK (note you will need your DLN (Drivers Licence Number) and your National Insurance Number. 

Additional Drivers -you will need to make sure you have the access code for them as well. Note the code only lasts 21 days so you may need to renew for a longer hire.


This can be an area of confusion and dispute as some rental companies can charge for fuel and add a premium on for doing this, notably when abroad. 

Check when you take out the agreement what the policy is, it is either like for like level of the gauge at start or full on return. 

Make sure at handover you are clear what the policy is and the fuel level is marked on the agreement itself. 

You will get a copy of this and it is your record for when you return the vehicle so keep it safe. As a final warning make sure you know the fuel type - don't get the fuel wrong as this is expensive and will not be covered in the insurance offered.


This area has had bad coverage recently with numerous stories about rental companies charging for non existent damage and over charging for repairs. 

A few safeguards as follows: 

  • Ensure you pick up or vehicle dropped off where you get a look around the vehicle and inspect, take photos if possible with date and time stamp.
  • On the handover you should be given a copy of the vehicle status which is typically a diagram of the vehicle with any marks noted.
  • Pay particular attention to alloys, bumpers and windscreens. Make sure you are comfortable all have been marked as required. 
  • On return make sure you have a copy of the original sheet and as the vehicle is inspected (usually by a representative of the rental firm) ensure you are comfortable with any marks noted. This is your opportunity to raise any concerns and point out any damage that has genuinely occurred. If any damage is found the rental company should obtain your authority before any repairs are completed as this will be payable by you unless the insurance provided covers you for this. If you have an issue with your rental company Which Guide which provides a good summary. 
  • Check to make sure your provider is part of the BVRLA as this is the industry member association and any complaints against their members will be looked into very seriously.


Is it convenient for you to pick up and drop off?

Are you going to one place and need to drop off? 

These are all elements to consider and the rental company can offer these services for your specific rental. Check to make sure what works for you, there may be a premium for dropping off or one way so make sure you balance the convenience with cost and compare true like for like quotes. 

Another element to consider is loyalty schemes, if you are planning to rent on a regular basis the rental company may offer a loyalty scheme which could offer discounts and other rewards so this might be worth taking into account.


Insurance is mandatory with rental and should be bundled in the price. However, make sure you check the level of cover and any omissions. 

Level of cover - is it third party or fully comprehensive? is there an excess? do you want take this risk? 

CDW policy - The rental company may offer you a (CDW) collision damage waiver policy or (LDW) loss damage waiver if involved with a third party, this covers repairs to the rental car, if so, is there any excess payable. 

If you are okay with the excess fine or alternatively there are car hire excess policies sold independently which will cover this excess, a quick search on-line will provide details of them. 

With any rental make sure you aware of the insurance provision you are taking out what is covered what is not and any excess that applies. If any additional policies are proposed think do I take the risk or shop around for other policies that could provide the same cover if not better at a cheaper price.