Bad luck for the car hire companies: these 13 tips will help you save money when renting out a car.

Cars are cheap but insurance is sky-high...

Buying a damage-excess waiver that pays out if you have a prang is essential, but if you wait until you get to the desk, I’ll charge you through the nose. My advice? Arrange excess cover through your own insurer and make sure you’re covered for tyre damage and windscreen replacement too, as both are costly.
 

Size matters...

Pick a small car if you’re just nipping down to the beach and double your spending money. Renting a Corsa for a week in Spain costs £153 high-season. C3 Picasso is £370 (both per week).
 

Driving in Europe?

Opt for diesel. It’s usually still cheaper than petrol and as you get 10% more miles per gallon, it’s a no-brainer if you’re touring.
 

You can’t always get what you want...

I know you booked a VW Golf, but the small print says “or equivalent”. Most rental companies source cars locally, so you’re likely to get a Fiat in Italy, whatever you specify.
 

Haggle!

Don’t accept the rate I quote first. Most car-hire companies are willing to negotiate, so aim for at least 10% off.
 

Get a free upgrade...

Ask at the desk when you collect your car. If business is slack more of the fleet will be available, and as the cheapest cars are easiest to rent out, I’m often happy to oblige.
 

Bring your own satnav...

Budget cars don’t have them and I’ll charge up to £50 a week to supply one. If you don’t have a satnav, download Navfree to your tablet or phone. It has maps for Europe and the US, and won’t cost you a penny.
 

...and child seats

A safety seat and booster for two small kids could total £140 for a fortnight. That’s an awful lot of ice creams.
 

Don’t go there...

Check with me before you cross a border. My insurance may not cover you, even if both countries are in the EU.
 

You’re too old...

I won’t hire cars to people under 25 or over 70 unless they pay a premium. It’s not just me: in Ireland, over 75s are banned from renting cars and restrictions apply in many other countries. In the UK, they usually start at 69.
 

Check the wheels...

If you only give the car a glance before you drive off, you’re making a big mistake. I’ll charge you full whack for damage that’s not recorded, so check the car and make sure scrapes are noted in the agreement. In particular, be sure to examine the wheels. Grazes here are often missed and they’re a nice little earner for me.
 

Spot the nearest cheap petrol station...

It’s usual to return the car with the amount of fuel that was in it when you left, and if you let me fill it up, I’ll charge top dollar. Just don’t wait until the last moment as fuel stations near the airport can be pricey.
 

Sorry, this licence won’t do...

I need both parts, not just the photo-card, before I hand over the keys.

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