A new study of car hire costs in Europe this summer reveals that the average price to hire a car has rocketed to £500 a week, compared to £356 in 2019, an increase of £144.
Once extras are added such as extra drivers, child car seats, sat navs and excess waiver insurance, the average price could increase to an eye-watering £944.
The research by iCarhireinsurance.com, a leading provider of stand-alone car hire excess insurance, looked at the cost of hiring a medium compact car, for example, a VW Golf or Peugeot 308, for a week from July 31 – August 7, 2021, compared to the same week in 2019.
iCarhireinsurance.com compared the costs in seven countries – Spain, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Switzerland, Germany and France – with the six rental companies of Sixt, Hertz, Avis, Budget, Enterprise and Europcar.
It also looked at the price of extras payable on arrival, such as excess insurance waivers, an additional driver, a child’s car seat and a sat nav, as well as the price of a tank of petrol (40 litres).
The study found the basic car rental rate varies from an average £388 in Barcelona, Spain, to £655 in Crete, Greece, and the biggest increase is in Munich, Germany, where prices are up £290 on average for the week, from £212 in 2019 to £502 in 2021.
Crete is the most expensive place to hire a car costing on average £655, up £195 from £460 in 2019, with all car hire companies charging over £600 for the week.
Faro, Portugal, has seen the most reasonable rise but there are wide variations in the hire prices charged by the different companies – Hertz is charging £661 for the week, compared to Enterprise and Sixt which are charging just under £400.
However, once all the extras are added, Geneva, Switzerland becomes the most expensive destination to hire this summer, with drivers paying on average £1,091 to hire a compact family car.
This is £559 for the week’s rental, as well as £144 super damage waiver, £10 super theft waiver, £52 tyre and windscreen waiver cover, £88 an extra driver, £131 for a sat nav, £53 for a child’s car seat and £54 for a tank of petrol.
Average cost of the extras across the survey
- £56 for a child’s car seat – most expensive is £88 with Budget in Munich
- £62 for an extra driver – most expensive is £118 in Geneva with Hertz
- £86 for a sat nav – most expensive is £159 with Budget in Geneva
Excess waiver insurance is the most expensive extra cost at the rental desk. These policies protect drivers from the excess cost if their hire car is stolen or damaged, which in this study averages around £1,300.
Rental companies often sell three excess policies
- Super damage waiver
- Super theft waiver
- Tyre and windscreen excess
These cost on average £134 for super damage waiver, £14 for super theft waiver and £38 for tyre and windscreen excess, a combined average total of £186.
This is more than six times the cost of a car hire excess policy from a specialist provider, like iCarhireinsurance.com, which sells a week’s policy for £27.92 – for example, from £3.49 a day for European cover, this can be bought before leaving home. Annual policies are available from £42.99.
The most expensive price for excess waiver in the study was Faro with Avis charging £199 for super damage waiver alone, while the week’s car hire was £433.
European car hire costs ranked from highest to lowest
Here are the most expensive to the cheapest including the week’s basic hire, a 40 litre tank of petrol and the six extras payable on arrival at the rental desk – super damage waiver, super theft waiver, tyre and windscreen excess waiver, an additional driver, a child’s car seat and a sat nav.
1. Switzerland (pick up from Geneva Airport)
Total cost: £1091 – up from £840 in 2019
2. France (pick up from Nice Airport)
Total cost: £994 – up from £841 in 2019
3. Greece (pick up in Crete)
Total cost: £974 – up from £729 in 2019
4. Portugal (pick up from Faro Airport)
Total cost: £928 – up from £902 in 2019
5. Germany (pick up from Munich Airport)
Total cost: £921 – up from £620 in 2019
6. Spain (pick up from Barcelona Airport)
Total cost: £852 – up from £729 in 2019
7. Ireland (pick up from Dublin Airport)
Total cost: £837 – up from £757 in 2019
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Commenting on the findings, Ernesto Suarez, founder and CEO of iCarhireinsurance.com, said: “There’s always a lot of variation in car hire prices which are heavily influenced by supply and demand, which is why there can be big differences in the same locations. You may even get a different price with the same rental company depending on how far in advance you book your vehicle.
“Disruption caused to the car hire industry by the pandemic has put particular pressures on the ability of firms to estimate summer demand. Rental companies have also faced additional costs, such as enhanced cleaning regimes and other measures at collection and drop-off. These operational measures are inevitably going to have an impact on price.”
Ernesto also advised that one way to save money is by taking extras with you, such as child car seats and sat navs, and buy excess insurance from a standalone provider before you travel.
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