First ask the big question. Do you actually need to hire a car at all? Prices have skyrocketed since the end (we hope) of the pandemic, and many of the cheap deals in countries all over the world have disappeared or become significantly less attractive. So always ask if you can go on a trip without hiring a car and how much you will save. Check if your destination has a decent supply of taxis and public transport, and how central your accommodation is. Apart from the cost and environmental concerns, taking public transport in foreign countries is a lot more interesting – and a lot less stressful – than driving.
If you do need a car, the next question is do you need it for the whole time you are away? If you think you might only use a hire car for two or three days of a holiday – to do a big shop or to visit a particularly remote spot for instance – then don’t just hire a car from the airport; instead, arrange to pick it up somewhere else. Apart from having it for a much shorter time, hiring a car away from the airport should save you a few bob.
If you absolutely must have a car, you will have to do your homework. The first place you should check is an aggregator such as kayak.ie, holidayautos.com or skyscanner.ie. These will search dozens of car-hire companies, as well as brokers and travel agents and help you to filter the search results based on fuel policy, air conditioning, transmission, pickup, car size and a lot more. Small brokers can cost less, but don’t forget to check out the big players’ websites too – they frequently have deals that can’t be topped.
Book early. Or book late. If you absolutely have to have a car then you are as well off making your booking as soon as you know where and when you are going. While headlines about the soaring price of car hire may have disappeared for now, the shortages that caused them this summer have not, and it’s likely there will be problems again next year. If you are relaxed about getting a car, you could hold off and see if you get a last minute deal.
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Size matters. The journeys may not be as comfortable, but a smaller car will save you money.
Do not take out super collision damage waiver insurance. The cost of car rental includes insurance cover for major incidents, leaving you liable to pay the first €500 of damage done to a car, or as much as €2,000. But excess insurance can cost almost €30 per day. Instead of buying super collision damage waiver insurance in an airport, take out an annual policy at home that offers full cover with an Irish insurance company. And make sure to have a balance on your credit card that can take the hit of a deposit.