Car hire in Spain: Rustical Travel advise
Which company should I use?
It’s easy to compare prices of rentals with companies that operate at the airport you fly into, and all the reputable agencies have online payment for advance booking these days.
You don’t have to use an online broker (like rentalcars.com); if you prefer, you can check the car hire companies´ own websites, compare prices, and book direct.
Websites like rentalcars.com are very user-friendly but be aware of the downsides when using a broker.
Using a broker (intermediate site) makes searching and comparing car hire a lot easier but, this can sometimes translate to discrepancies between the terms and conditions published by the broker/intermediate and the car hire company itself.
For instance, you may sometimes encounter misunderstandings with the unlimited km usage option included in the price for some companies, as it may only apply for certain locations.
You could also occasionally find some discrepancies with the type of vehicles you choose when booking through the broker or the car hire company itself
After many years of experience as travel agents, here at Rustical Travel there isn´t a particular car hire company we recommend.
In general, we suggest that you weigh up renting a car from one of the big names (eg. Hertz, Avis) whose reputation may reassure the customer, with the advantages of possibly cost saving with a lesser known but established company (eg. Centauro, Gold Car).
Which company should I book my car with?
Some smaller companies may be more costumer-oriented whereas other larger car hire companies are more interested in being able to attend to the maximum number of people as fast as possible.
If you plan to hire a car based on reviews online, bear in mind that people who hire cars are not normally excited about the experience and only tend to write about bad experiences which may be the exception to the rule. Goldcar, for example, used to have a particularly bad reputation for malpractice and overcharging, but to be fair they may have cleaned up their act.
Where is the car hire office? At the airport itself? Or at a less convenient location elsewhere in the area, and what are the opening hours? Some brokers may offer you a better deal but the pick-up point may not be convenient for you.
Make sure the pick-up point is convenient and check the opening hours.
What car should I get?
It is important you take the size of the boot into consideration depending on the amount of luggage you will be taking with you.
It is equally important to know whether you will be driving through narrow villages (common in rural Andalucia for instance) or if you need to drive your car on bumpy, unmade roads, in which case a reasonably high clearance car is recommended (and not low-slung sports cars).
We drove this hire car on the bumpy track with some care and we had no problems.
You may also want to consider the parking space you will have at your actual destination (if limited, small cars may be a better option).
Spain is also a mountainous, hilly country so it is always best to hire a car that has high engine power, especially for steep village roads and certain accesses.
In general, and when possible, we suggest clients book ordinary cars: not too large not too small, as they manage most situations.
We usually recommend regular, medium-sized cars as they manage most situations very well.
Be aware that automatic cars are not common in Spain and even though there may be some available at your car hire company, some people may not enjoy hiring one when driving steep tracks that may require 1st gear.
In Spain most hired cars will always have a gear box.
Car hire prices and insurances
Car hire prices do not depend only on the kind of car you wish to book but also the time of year and the insurance coverage you wish to take.
Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) excess: insurance in the basic package should always cover you for serious damage or write-off of the car, but car hire companies generally oblige you to pay for at least the first 500 euros or even as much as 1,000 euros.
If you want to cover yourself against this excess, the optional extra insurance cost with the car hire company is usually expensive and a hard-sell when you pick the car up.
But you may be able to buy your own insurance policy against excess much more cheaply from an independent company before you go, so you don´t have to worry about bumps, scratches or damage to windows and tires.
The policy is often valid for a whole year and we hear it is a great alternative. The downside is that these companies normally take a very long time to reimburse you for costs, so you must be OK with paying the amount up front first while not expecting it to be in your bank account swiflty:
Points to bear in mind!
-Child seats: it may be cheaper to buy and take your own, even after paying a luggage charge on the plane.
-Satnav: again, it will often be cheaper to buy and take your own. Remember, if you don’t want to pay for a satnav/GPS device, you don’t normally need one to find your Rustical Travel villa. We always provide you with a map with detailed directions that you can print off before you leave (a simple updated road map of Spain could support our detailed directions). In 2017 Goldcar was offering portable WiFi for 5 euros a day which may be helpful when finding your way around.
Hiring a GPS at your car rental company can be expensive.
-Extra charges for drivers under 30 or less years of age.
-You may also want to know rates for additional drivers.
-Do you have unlimited mileage?
-Fuel policy: does the car hire company provide a full tank of petrol and you return it full? We strongly prefer this “full/full” policy, because companies that tell you to return the tank empty can charge over the odds for the initial full tank.
-Pay in euros: you will normally pay less by specifying euros rather than your home currency, which will bear a mark-up.
-Penalties for delayed returns: is there is a courtesy time if you are running late to return your car? How long is this courtesy time for? And how much do they charge if you arrive later than that?
Picking your car up
Remember your driving license, passport and credit card!
If you decide against CDW excess insurance, you should take extra caution and photograph any existing damage to your car when you pick it up. If damage is small, you still need to report it.
Credit card authorization expiry: it is normal for the car hire company to require you to sign authorization of a credit card charge against uninsured excess or returning the car late, etc.
This is an agreement, not a payment that you need to reclaim, and the expiry date of the authorization should be clearly visible to the signee.
Also remember to double check the opening times at the car hire office.
Enjoy your trip!