Car hire discoveries

Although hubby and I usually rely on our legs and public transport to take us to places, in Finland we often hire a car to have access to the more remote locations we need to get to. Sometimes we pick one up from the main airport at Helsinki-Vantaa and go on a proper road trip through the country; sometimes get one from a regional airport after an internal flight. As we are planning another road trip in Finland, here are some of our car hire discoveries.

  1. Price comparison sites don’t always offer the best price. They can be a useful tool but the last couple of times we have found a cheaper price on a hire company’s own website. You can also get a considerable discount by paying in advance.
  2. Vehicle categories vary from company to company. One year we ended up driving over 1,000 miles in what can only be described as a biscuit tin. It may have been economical but climbing steep hills or overtaking anything faster than a tractor was a bit of challenge! We had had a nice ‘economy’ class car the year before but with this other company economy = tiny.
  3. Check out standalone excess waiver policies. Our annual policy ended up costing less than the hire company’s own insurance per trip.
  4. Check the fuel policy and mileage restrictions. The best option for us has always been unlimited mileage and full-to-full fuel policy. That way we only pay for what we use and can look for the cheapest service stations to fill the tank.
  5. Get a DVLA code before your trip (if you hold a UK driving licence). This is in case a hire company wants to check your licence online to see if you have any penalty points. So far we have never been asked for the code but there is the first time for everything…
  6. Check the car for scratches and damage upon pick up and return. You don’t want to end up paying for damage caused before or after your rental period. We always take photos, just in case. Luckily it’s always been just a precautionary measure.

What are your experiences of car hire companies? Is there anything you wish you had known before renting a vehicle abroad?

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