Renting a car on holiday this summer? There’s often a shock at the airport hire desk when the final amount is calculated. To start your holiday in a good mood, here’s some ways to beat the costly price hikes.

Book as much in advance as possible

This goes for most things, but as soon as you know your holiday dates, book you car. You will be not only saving yourself hundreds of pounds, but you ‘ll also get access to a much bigger range of cheaper priced cars.

Use a car hire price comparison site

Be canny when booking your car. Use sites like SkyScanner to check out prices from a number of hire companies.

The devil is in the detail

Be careful when choosing your spec of car. Manuals are normally cheaper than automatics, petrol cars are usually cheaper than diesels and smaller cars are obviously cheaper than larger cars – but might not suit the terrain you’re travelling around, so make sure you check as much detail as possible.

Don’t hire a sat nav

If you have a smartphone, there’s no reason to hire a sat nav. If you’re abroad, download the Navmii app. This doesn’t require any data usage and comes with pre-loaded map, route planning and voice prompts.

Check your car hire’s foreign site

If you’re picking up your car in Spain, for example, check the Spanish version of their site (ie, by putting .es at the end instead of and see if there’s a difference in the price.

Beware of the child car seat cost

Book your car seat via your car hire company and you’ll be looking at a sizeable figure on top of the car hire costs. There are alternatives. You can bring your car seat with you (check your airline policies), or see how much the hire company will charge you if you book your car seat on arrival. Alternatively, check your arrivals airport to for children equipment hire stalls. These are in a lot of major European airports, and Babysaway is a US chain with over 80 locations.

Don’t fall for “excess insurance”

Car hire firms will impress the importance of excess insurance on you when you hire your car. This will add a three-figure number on to the cost of your hire. But there are ways of avoiding it. Get an excess policy from a standalone provider, which can be around £20 cheaper a day. It means you will have to pay a deposit to the hire company but this will be refunded if you avoid any accidents. If you do happen to claim, the deposit will be non-refundable but will be paid back by your standalone insurer.

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