A new report from Post Office Travel Money has found that one-in-five Brits plan to get behind the wheel on an overseas holiday this summer.
A third of those surveyed for its Car Rental Report said they always hire a car for holidays abroad while a further 15 per cent are planning to do so this year to take advantage of the cheaper fuel available because of lower European pump prices and the strong pound.
According to the survey, the lowest car rental charges can be found in Northern Europe or the Eastern Med.
From 20 destinations surveyed, Denmark is cheapest of all. Researchers found that the cost of hiring a car for a week to pick up at Copenhagen Airport is £248, including Sat Nav, additional driver and a tank of fuel. This is under half the price in Croatia (Split, £547) or Portugal (Faro, £553). UK motorists planning fly/drive touring trips to Germany (£264) and the Netherlands (£277) can also count on low rental prices.
The Eastern Med was the other region found to be good value by Post Office Travel Money. At just over £278, the holiday island of Cyprus narrowly pipped Turkey where car hire from Dalaman Airport in the heart of the tourist belt costs just 31p more. Completing the trio, Malta (Luqa Airport) is another Eastern Med bargain at around £280.
Almost half (48 per cent) of people who previously hired cars abroad did so in Spain but the Car Rental Report found it far from the cheapest place to hire cars. Alicante in the Costa Blanca was the lowest-priced of three destinations surveyed but, at £320, could only manage ninth place. Renting a car in the Costa del Sol (Malaga Airport) cost £35 more (£355) while a week’s hire in Majorca (Palma Airport) was almost £100 more expensive (£415) than Alicante.
France, Greece and Portugal are the other countries where UK holiday motorists have most frequently driven rental cars – around one in five of those surveyed – and are even pricier than Spain. The cost for one week’s car hire rises to £385 in Corfu and escalates to £447 in the South of France (Nice Airport) while Portugal’s Algarve is most expensive of all at £553.
Post Office Travel Money says motorists risk steering into trouble if they cut corners on car rental. Almost half (49 per cent) of those questioned in consumer research for the Car Rental Report failed to take out Excess Waiver Insurance (EWI) that reduces the excess payable for accidents or theft to zero. Even more – 72 per cent of drivers – did not take out insurance to cover tyre, undercarriage and window damage.
Yet, motorists who damage the rental car and do not have EWI or tyre, undercarriage and window insurance face a minimum of £292 in excess charges (Turkey) and this more than quadruples to £1,270 in Switzerland. In places most popular with British holiday motorists the accidental damage excess payable is also high. In the South of France the excess is £589, in Portugal it costs more (£794) and in Spain motorists could pay between £795 and £800.
In every country surveyed, the Post Office found the combined cost of EWI and tyre, undercarriage and window insurance to be a fraction of the excess charge payable in the event of damage. In Switzerland insurance costs £102 for a week – only eight per cent of the potential excess bill. In other countries the cost of reducing the excess charge to zero is between 10-17 per cent of the excess payable.