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How To Make The Most Of Your Car Hire Experience In The UK

Sep 10, 2008
With such a large selection of car hire companies in the UK the consumer is often left befuddled by which to choose. Most large rental companies have outlets in every large city, town and airport meaning that if you need one you are never far away from a hire car. But what is involved in the process? What can you do to ensure you receive a great deal?

One of the best ways to gain discounts on car hire services is to take advantage of loyalty clubs. For instance, if you fly in and out of the UK regularly, some frequent flyer programmes will be linked to rental companies and hence discounts will be a possibility. In addition, rental company loyalty clubs are normally worth joining, in many cases they will cost nothing to join and will bring benefits such as cheaper prices and readily available free upgrades.

As with most services in life the internet is a valuable resource when researching car hire companies within the UK. The majority of major rental companies offer those booking over the internet special rates. In some cases the discount can be as much as ten percent if booking online. Also, if you know well in advance when you will need a hire car, it is often advisable to book early; once again the majority of companies will give large discounts for those with the foresight to book well in advance.

Before booking however it is always worth taking the time to carefully read the rental contract thoroughly. Normally this contract will include information on the insurance cover, liability clauses and mileage restrictions. By gaining an understanding of this early on it is possible to achieve a great deal and to learn exactly which additional inclusions you will need, if any.

When booking online you will normally be given a conformation number via email. If you are booking over the phone however it is important to receive this number and to take a note of it. In effect it acts as your proof of purchase and will need to be present at the desk on arrival. When flying into the UK, it is always advisable to give the car hire company your flight number, by doing this it is possible to ensure that your car will be held even if your flight is considerably delayed.

Most companies operate a policy where the cars are fully fuelled before they leave the lot in the understanding that they will be returned with a full tank. It is important to return the car fully fuelled as most companies will charge a rather large excess sum for fuelling the car once it has been returned. Additionally making a detailed check of the cars exterior and interior is always advisable. Take a notepad with you and walk around the car recording any dents, scratches or scuffs, then repeat this process inside the vehicle. Present this list to the company representative before you leave and you should be able to cover yourself from any damage charges when you return the vehicle at the end of the hire period.

Hopefully this information has given those in the UK vital knowledge of how to make the most of a rental experience. Ultimately it is about finding a good balance between costs and services whilst covering yourself from any additional charges when you return the vehicle. By keeping these at the forefront of your mind it should be possible to secure a great car, at the right price.
About the Author
Travel and consumer expert Thomas Pretty looks into car hire UK services and how to secure the best deal.
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