Cheap car hire in Spain can be difficult to find during the peak holiday season and since the Covid pandemic there seems to be a shortage of vehicles everywhere. For that reason we’ve put together these few tips on helping you find some good deals:
Compare Rental Companies’ Rates
The first step is researching rental car companies and comparing their rates. While global brands like Hertz, Avis, and Enterprise are available, you may find better deals from local companies like Helle Hollis or Malagacar. Use aggregator sites like Rentalcars.com and Kayak to quickly view rates across multiple providers. Consider both international companies and local operators. Opting for a smaller company doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice service or vehicle quality.
Use Price Comparison Websites
Rather than searching through countless car hire websites you can now visit a single price comparison specialist and they’ll save you hours by doing all the searching for you. All you need to do is input your destination and travel dates then click the search button. Their search technology then ‘scrapes’ search results from a large number of car hire websites and returns the best rates for you.
Book Well in Advance for Cheap Car Hire in Spain
Like flights and accommodation, car rental rates are usually lowest when you book early. Aim to reserve your car at least 1-2 months before your trip. Last minute bookings will typically incur higher rates. For the best chance at finding cheap car hire at the airport, start comparing providers as soon as you confirm your trip.
Look for Discounts and Coupons
Check rental company websites regularly for discounts and coupon codes you can apply to your booking. Consider joining rental loyalty programs which can provide free car upgrades, priority service, and exclusive deals. You may also find discount codes on third-party travel sites. Some companies offer cheaper prices when booking directly through their site rather than a third party.
You might also find special cheap car hire in Spain deals being offered by online travel agents and airlines when you book a holiday or flight with them.
Consider Offsite Rental Locations
Renting away from the airport itself can translate to cheaper rates. Offsite rental locations are situated close to the airport. You’ll be met at the arrivals area by a representative of the car hire company who will escort you to your car. This may be in the airport parking or at an offsite locations. While not as convenient, you’ll often avoid surcharges and fees added by the better known car rental companies.
Airports in Spain are home to a number of these independent local operators. To find out which local car hire companies are recommended by visitors go to the travel forums section for Malaga on Tripadvisor.com. If you don’t see any useful tips you can ask a question in the forum and you’ll often get an answer from the local destination expert.
Choose a Smaller Vehicle
Opting for a more compact car is one of the easiest ways to reduce your rental costs as it is cheaper rent and uses less fuel when driving in Spain. Unless you have a large group or lots of luggage, a standard car or hatchback should meet your needs. Upgrade to a larger vehicle only if necessary. Decline any extra add-ons like GPS (use your phone’s maps instead) or excess insurance.
By following these tips, you can find affordable car hire at Spanish airports without sacrificing quality or service. A little research goes a long way. Enjoy the flexibility to get to your holiday resort and explore the Costa del Sol with a rental car that fits your budget.
Book With a Car Hire Company Which Offers a ‘Fair Fuel Policy’
The fuel policy operated by car hire companies varies according to the supplier and is probably the biggest complaint amongst holidaymakers. For some car hire companies it serves as a significant source of additional revenue. A common fuel policy is that you collect the car with a full tank and return it empty. This usually means being charged more for the full tank of petrol than could physically fit in the tank at current petrol prices. Then when you return it you often find that you can’t use the full tank so they can effectively sell the same petrol twice!
Some companies will provide you with a half full tank and tell you to bring it back empty but the best option if you can find it is to collect your car with a full tank of petrol then return it full. This way you know you’re paying the market price for your petrol and not being subjected to the profiteering of the car hire company.
Buy an Excess Insurance Policy Before Travelling
When you get your car hire quote it usually includes at least a Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) which covers damage to the vehicle in the event of an accident. It will also include an “excess” which is the amount you’d have to pay before the insurance policy covers any damage to the car. This “excess” is typically around £500. On arrival at the airport you’ll be asked if you want to take out an additional insurance to provide more comprehensive cover in the event of your car being damaged or stolen. If you take out this additional policy it gives you fully comprehensive insurance and reduces your “excess” to zero.
You can reduce the cost of extra insurance by taking out a separate ‘excess insurance policy’ before you travel and refuse to take out the car hire company’s policy when you arrive. This specialist type of insurance covers the policy holder rather than the rental vehicle. If your car is damaged or stolen whilst you’re abroad you’ll pay the excess to the car hire company with your credit card then reclaim this expense when you get home from your ‘excess insurance policy’. If you rent abroad for more than a week a year this could well be worth looking at. Companies offering such policies include:
Exchange Rate Adjustments
Some companies will provide you with a quote in Euros then charge you in Pounds when you come to make the final payment. The exchange rate used tends to be below the market rate and some will add insult to injury by adding on what they call an “exchange rate mark-up”. In other words they choose to convert Euros to Pounds on your behalf at a non-competitive exchange rate then charge you for the privilege!
It’s much better to get a quote in Pounds and pay in Pounds before leaving the UK. If you must settle the balance whilst abroad and have the option of paying in Euros or Pounds always choose Euros otherwise the car hire company will do the exchange rate conversion for you at a worse rate than your bank will.
Check Additional Charges Before Booking
The most common additional charges that might be added on are for an additional driver, for the mileage you cover, for child seats and for one-way rentals. You should check carefully when you get your original quote to see whether these are included or not. The quote should always include VAT and any airport taxes and surcharges.
Check Your Hire Car for Damage Before Driving Out of the Airport
Many holidaymakers have had quite a shock when they’ve returned home only to find that the car hire company has added extra charges to their credit card bill. When they query these charges they are usually told that it is because of damage to the car. To avoid the likelihood of this scenario be sure to check the car very carefully on arrival and make sure that any marks are reported before you drive away. On returning it some people take photos of the car to prove that it is in the same condition as when they collected it.
If you do run into such a problem and cannot resolve the dispute with the car hire company you should contact your credit card company as they may well be able to support you in the matter.
Do you Really Need to Rent a Car?
Quite simply the biggest way to save on car rental is to not rent at all. If you can cope with the inconvenience of public transport it’s well worth looking at what alternative transport options are available from the airport to your final destination.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Car Hire Broker?
Car hire brokers DO NOT OWN any cars but act as intermediaries between the car hire company and the holidaymaker. They earn a living from commissions they get from the car hire companies for finding them customers. There are literally hundreds of car hire brokers online so it’s a good idea to refer to a price comparison website to find the best deals.
Car hire companies OWN their own cars which they rent out to holidaymakers from their offices at airports and in popular holiday resorts. They include household names such as Alamo, Budget and Hertz. By all means check their individual websites for quotes but more often than not you’ll find that you can rent their cars cheaper through the broker websites.