Ireland’s Guide To Money And Living

Car hire tips

Car hire tips

Photo: iStock

Heading on a holiday abroad this summer? If you’re hiring a car, we’ve got some tips for you to keep in mind.

Choose wisely

Always shop around for the best deals – use comparison sites such as or to find a suitable option for your budget, and compare it with other offers.

When you’re choosing the car itself, avoid the temptation to splurge on an executive model, unless you’re attending important business meetings. A smaller family car may not be as comfortable or good-looking, but it’ll be cheaper!

Bring your camera

It’s happened in the past – people have returned their rental cars and later found out they’ve been charged for dings or scrapes they never caused.

Take a few photos of your rental car both inside and out before you drive away, making sure to highlight any damage already present – generally you’ll also be given a damage checklist to fill out. Don’t forget to take a few photos when you drop it back too, so you can prove you returned it without any damage.

Fine tooth comb

Always read your contract carefully. Make sure that any intended drivers are covered, check the company’s fuel and breakdown policy, or whether there’s a charge for returning the car to another location if you’re flying out of a different airport. Other things to look out for include transport to and from the airport, any fees for late returns, mileage restrictions, and the cancellation policy.

Avoid excess

Generally, the cost of hiring a car will include insurance to cover you in the event of a collision or theft. However, the excess (the amount you have to pay before the insurance kicks in) is generally quite large, and hire companies will often try to upsell your insurance cover to reduce or remove this excess, which can be expensive.

You can avoid this by arranging car hire excess insurance with an insurance company before you travel – AIG offers excess insurance for a three-day European jaunt in the middle of July for €8.97.


Take a few minutes to familiarise yourself with the hire car’s interior and controls – lights, heaters, indicators, hazards etc. It could save a few panicky moments down the road!

You should also double-check which fuel the vehicle uses, as putting using the wrong fuel can be highly damaging to the car. Generally, hire cars will have a sticker inside the filler cap as a handy reminder, but there’s no harm in making sure.

When not writing about all things personal finance, You & Your Money's editor Conor Forrest enjoys reading, football and getting lost in an ocean of Wikipedia articles.