What is important for you when it comes to care hire in Spain? Is the size, model and comfort of the car paramount, the ease of collection or the price the ruling factor? People differ in their preferences. There are those who would travel miles and back to pick up the cheapest car hire and those for whom price is no object. Most of us are somewhere in between.

Quite often people tend to be loyal to a car hire company that they have traditionally used. Part of this is familiarity. Trying someone new means getting to grips with different terms and conditions. It’s time and effort learning to ‘play the game’ and to get genuinely cheap car hire without the tears, is difficult.

Highly competitive – at a price

There is no doubt that companies are falling over themselves to offer us the lowest price. It is almost unbelievable how little some of them are charging for their daily rate. But, you should hold back from clicking that ‘book now’ button too soon. Having advertised at such a low price it’s perhaps no wonder that car hire companies in Spain seem to spend all their time trying to recoup their money in whatever way they can.

So why do they do it? By having a very low initial daily price they secure their position at the top of the car hire comparison charts. This is why it is so important to check through until the end of the booking process to ensure that the deal you are getting really is a good deal after all.

Bargain basement prices are not everyone’s cup of tea. At the end of a long flight with two young children in tow, you don’t want a long queue at the airport to pick up your rental car. You also don’t want to be paying upwards of 80€ a week for a couple of car seats. Getting off to a bad start at the car rental company’s desk, can put a damper on your stay.

 

So, how do you go about finding the best deal for you?

Questions to ask

When searching for the cheapest car hire, keep in mind that charges will vary according to:

  • Whether you wish to take out additional insurance – this will substantially add to the cost of the car hire in Spain but otherwise you are not covered for some basics and the excess can be astronomical.
  • If you need to take out a Young Driver Surcharge – again this will be extra every day
  • If you want to have an additional driver – again it’s extra!
  • What the fuel policy is – the options are extensive from full tank to full tank, full tank to empty and every variation in between

 

In addition, some of the companies offer fast track collection and return and other insurance extras that can soon bump up the price.

Additional insurance

The collision damage waiver is a service that is usually included in the cost. It means that your financial liability is reduced if you should damage the vehicle. The excess can still be a lot of money even with the waiver and you should check what it will be. We found examples ranging from 300€ to over 1,000€ in some cases, depending on the car.

Excess waiver insurance can be taken out with car hire in Spain to reduce any excess that you have to pay. However, as you would expect, it can be expensive. You should be aware that you can buy an excess waiver policy in advance from a specialist insurer. Although some companies can be ‘awkward’ about accepting this.

Age of driver

The minimum age for driving a hire car is 21. However, there is a preference for drivers over 25 and you might find that there are restrictions around the 21-25 age group.  For example, with recordgo you pay an additional 4.45 euros a day for drivers aged between 21 and 25. Young driver surcharge is not unusual amongst companies and some don’t allow under 25 drivers at all.

Fuel policy

It is the fuel option that is a particular issue. You should be careful when selecting your company that you know exactly what their arrangements are. Car hire in Spain can be made significantly more expensive by the terms and conditions surrounding fuel payments.

Some companies require you to pay for a full tank when you collect your car along with a ‘handling and logistics’ fee (24 euros for recordgo). When you bring your car back you are reimbursed for unused fuel. But there are conditions around this, so check the small print! It is unlikely you will get as much as you paid for any fuel you return.

Payment options

Most companies insist on the use of a credit card for hiring the vehicle. There can be options of using other cards but you might have to take out additional insurance. For example, with recordgo they will accept some debit cards but you have to take out there Comfort Plus Cover which works out at 8.44€ a day.

The reason that care hire companies in Spain ask for a visa credit card is so that they can charge you for the excess when you collect the car and reimburse you when you return it undamaged. They certainly don’t take any risks! Neither should you.

Do keep an eye on your credit card once you have returned your car. There are a number of instances where companies have taken money from the card for dubious reasons. If this should happen to you, inform your bank and the money can be stopped.

Added extras

What is perhaps startling is the cost of safety seats for children. In some cases the cost of these seats is as much as the cost of hiring the car itself (or indeed of buying the seat). Even booster seats can end up being 4 to 5€ a day. Although there is usually a maximum charge, with two children your cheap car hire can soon become an expensive option.

If you are a regular car hirer with young children you might look at alternative options such as buying your own to keep in Spain or even hiring one from one of the child equipment hire shops that there are around. Of course, you will have to work out how you will manage the journey from the airport.

Comparison table

So, what does all this look like in practice? The table below is our attempt to make a few car hire comparisons of our own. The search was based upon 1 week’s rental of an economy car (C) on February 11th  from Alicante airport for one week with a driver over the age of 25.

 

Price * Other costs Child safety seat Insurance arrangements
Europcar 97.74€ Excludes fuel 83.49€ Excess of 517.19€Additional basic damage and theft cover = 106.72€ +
Recordgo  20.50€ Excludes fuel – you pay for a full tank when you pick up the vehicle. Fuel logistics fee of 24€ 42.00€ Between 500€ and 1,000€. You can take out an excess waiver for 7.17€ a day
Firefly (budget Hertz) 18.48€ Excludes fuel service charge (between 16 and 26€) and charge for fuel (between 44€ and 69€) 34.72€ Excess of 650€- 700€Offers super cover of a minimum of 60.98€.   650€- 700€ is blocked if you don’t take out super cover
Goldcar 22.50€ Excludes fuel which is charged for when you collect the car. Unused fuel reimbursement. 42.00€ 600€ will be blocked on your credit card if you do not take out additional insurance
Hertz 104.04€ Fuel excluded – rented with a full tank and must be brought back with a full tank 66.13€ Excess around 1,000€ depending on the type of car
Coys 139.00€ Fuel priced 20€ included – bring back empty 7.00€ Excess between 300€ and 600€ – additional payment of 2.50€ a day for an excess waiver charge

 

 

 

Brokers

It took us quite a while to complete this table and it is far from comprehensive. There are broker companies out there who do these kinds of car hire comparisons for you. For example, rentalcars.com http://www.rentalcars.com/

We tried using this service for the same dates and sized cars (economy) and they highlighted for us:

  • Kia picanto by recordgo at a price of 51,18€ plus a 24€ fuel service charge at pick up
  • Renault Clio by Firefly 51,63€ with full to full fuel policy
  • Seat Ibiza by Europcar at a price of 90,55€ with full to full fuel policy

 

However, it is still very difficult to work out exactly what the cost of your rental will be in the end.  Other broker sites have tried to address this more directly. For example, https://www.enjoycarhire.com  filters out those companies that are operating unfair fuel charges. It provides a very clear breakdown of what you are paying for in a standardised manner but doesn’t identify which care hire firm you will actually be using.

Economy Car hire http://www.economycarhire.com/   lists companies with a ‘Fair Fuel Policy’. It is a useful website to access as it also provides a summary of the terms and condition of the hire companies – cutting down the work for you. However, only a small selection of companies seem to be included.

Another broker, Moneymaxim, http://www.moneymaxim.co.uk/car-hire/   has introduced a ‘Fairer Fuel cars only’ filter. It also provides comparison of insurance packages and helps you identify whether you are better to go in-house on insurance or find a stand alone package.

Local companies

It is worth looking around at local hire companies. In our  comparison table we chose Coys Cars as a local business (Torrevieja) who many people rate as providing very good personal service at a reasonable price. They can bring benefits to your car hire arrangements that the bigger boys just don’t deliver.

What does seem clear is that you should not right off the smaller companies because their initial quote seems higher. Coys, for example, not only make the conditions around their Excess Waiver charge incredibly clear in comparison to other companies but it is one of the cheapest options we’ve seen at 2.50€ a day. They also include free additional drivers and a very cheap rate on child car seats.

You might find, that once you’ve added it all up, they are very competitive as well as providing a good, local, friendly service.

As clear as mud

What is particularly concerning was that during our research to complete the car hire comparison table (without any help from a brokerage service) we really struggled to be able to find the information we needed.

These companies do not help you to understand what exactly you are paying for. Their websites might look good but they don’t make their extra charges clear. We all know why.

In the end, don’t take that cheap car hire in Spain at face value. Look for those on costs, take your own preferences into account and make your choice a considered one.