How to rent a car without being played

Comment louer une voiture sans se faire arnaquer

During your vacation, probably you’ll rent a car if you want to visit places other than big cities. There are more and more rent-a-car companies in Portugal making it hard to choose from and when we do there is a high probability of being played!

Some companies use all kinds of tricks to increase the price after the rental. In this article I’m going to show you how to avoid being played and get the fair price.

Tips for renting a car without being played

I always start my search in Rentalcars (affiliate link), an online car rental service where we can read reviews from other customers and get to know the companies before we make our reservation. After you choose a city / airport, the date and driver’s age you’ll be redirected to this page.

The first thing I do is to filter the results. In “Supplier” (side bar) I choose “Shuttle Bus” so I don’t have to take a bus and leave the airport.

In “Fuel Options” I choose “Full to Full” to avoid having to pay an overpriced fuel even if it is a cheap car.

The option “Pre-Purchase” appeared along with the low cost rent-a-car companies – the prices are low but when you get the rental car, the company will charge you an overpriced fuel tank.

On average you’ll have to pay a hundred euros for a full tank. The worst of all is that they’ll ask you to bring the tank empty because rent-a-car companies won’t return the money of the fuel that remains in the tank (some rent-a-car companies do that now). If we think about it, these companies profit when we pick the car up and when we drop it off!

Presently I’m comparing each rent-a-car in the economic class (Medium Cars). You can compare in the class that suits you the best.

Before you rent a car, always click on the “Terms and Conditions – Ts & Cs”, just next to the company’s logo. This is where you’ll find information about the insurance, covers, waivers and more.

Always check if you have unlimited mileage or how many kilometres are included and how much is the deposit. If you’re a young driver check how much is the fee applied for younger drivers as well as the costs for an extra driver.

After clicking in “Book Now” you’ll have access to information related to your vehicle, reviews from other customers and a summary of the rental conditions (“Important Information”).

You can also choose other extras (GPS, baby car seat, etc) and ask for Rentalcars (affiliate link) full protection .

Information: I never choose the full protection option of these companies because, when you get the car, the deposit will be blocked in your credit car and, in case of a responsible accident, I’ll have to ask a reimbursement from the online car rental service insurance.

When I rent a car for 2, 3, 7 days I always ask the full protection insurance from the companies (Europcar, Avis, Hertz, etc) at the reception. I prefer to pay a little bit more than to risk losing more than 1000.

If you make a reservation for several weeks, then the insurance won’t be so appealing. If the insurance costs on average 14€ per day (the price range is from 10€ to 19€), then, if you ren a car for three weeks, the total amount will be 294€. In this case maybe it would be better to leave a deposit of 1000€.

If you don’t want the full protection insurance then make sure your credit card limit is high so you have money for your vacation. If you can’t spend more than 2000€ per month with your credit card , and 1000€ are blocked by the rent-a-car company, then you’ll only have 1000€ to spend. To avoid such problems, and before you go on vacation, ask your bank for a higher limit for your credit card.

For this reservation I chose Guerin as the rent-a-car company, but instead of booking right away in Rentalcars (affiliate link), I checked the prices on the Guerin site. On their site the price was 383,10€ (Ford Fiesta – same category than Seat Ibiza in Rentalcars) and in Rentalcars (affiliate link) it was 332,56€ – a difference of 50,54€.

Information: while I was preparing this article I noticed that the prices aren’t always the cheapest in Rentalcars. Sometimes the price is cheaper in the rent-a-car company site (between 5€ and 10€). Once you have chosen the rent-a-car company, don’t hesitate to check the prices directly on their sites before you book the car in Rentalcars (affiliate link).

Renting cars in Portugal

As you must know, in Portugal there are two types of highways: those with the “normal” tolls and those with electronic tolls (ex-scuts). To avoid any problem, my suggestion is that you get the Via Verde device for 1,85€ per day, maximum of 18€ for those who are staying several days. This will allow you to move through every highway, through the lane where only those with this device can pass.

When you drop off the car you’re going to pay the price of the tolls to the rent-a-car company. If you prefer to pay the “normal” tolls and the electronic ones without the Via Verde device then you should read the article How to pay the electronic tolls.

If you rent a car in Porto airport know that you’ll have to take a mini bus to get your car. The site Rentalcars says that some companies are inside the airport but the truth is that they’re 800 metres away, in a place just for rent-a-car companies. You’ll have to wait some minutes for the mini bus that was sent by the company.

When you see “Shuttle Bus” in Rentalcars site, then it means that the rent-a-car company is not located in the airport but some kilometres away.

In conclusion

To conclude, here are some tips that will help you with your reservation:

  • Rent a car as soon as possible – it is cheaper and it’s almost certain that you’ll have the desired class.
  • Rent your car according to your needs, don’t rent a Smart if you’re traveling with many luggage.
  • If you pay the rental on-line it will be cheaper than at the company.
  • In order to rent a car you’ll need a credit card (Visa, Mastercard) with your name in it. It is how the companies block the deposit.
  • Always check the terms and conditions, the mileage, the deposit value and, if you choose an insurance, make sure you know what it is for.
  • Rent a diesel vehicle only if you’re going to drive many kilometres. If you drive for 800 kilometres, the amount you’ll save won’t make up for the price of the other cars.
  • Never rent a car of wich you have to pay for a full tank when you pick it up and then you have to drop it off with an empty tank – always choose the option Full to Full.
  • Always examine your car before leaving the rent-a-car company (interior, exterior and spare tyre) and when you drop it off. Always ask for a copy so you can defend yourself in case of litigation.
  • Before picking up the car make sure the company will be opened at the time you intend to drop it off; if that is not the case, check the terms and conditions.
  • Use the first kilometres to test the vehicle, brakes, clutch. If you find any problem return to the rent-a-car company and ask for another car.
  • Fill the tank near the rent-a-car company just before you drop the car off.
  • Don’t drop off the car dirty because they’ll charge extra for cleaning animal fur or cigarette smell.
  • Drop off the car as scheduled so they won’t charge you another day.

For more tips on how to prepare your vacation in Portugal, click here or read below one of the 5 articles I chose for you!

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About Tiago

Tiago, 27 years old, Parisian since 12, I decided to go on an adventure and make my dream come true: get to know our country from one end to the other. I believe that if we don’t know our origins we don’t truly know ourselves. Read more here