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    Car Hire Costs: How to Avoid Hidden Car Hire Fees

    When searching for the best deal, it's important to consider what may not be included in your car hire's initial up-front quote. Use the information below to uncover hidden car hire fees so you can rest assured you won't run into any surprises on your trip!

    Every traveler wants to find the best deals when planning a vacation abroad, but some hire car costs may not always be what they seem. Additional fees, taxes, and surcharges might not be clearly stated in your car hire contract with the competition, but Auto Europe is dedicated to making your booking process transparent and easy to understand by offering our customers some helpful tips and tricks when travelling abroad! A well-informed traveler is a happy traveler, so check out the information below to learn everything you need to know about hidden car hire fees.

    Avoid unexpected charges and fees by being familiar with your Auto Europe Car Hire Voucher. Click the link to learn about each section of your voucher, explaining where to look to see what is and what isn't covered in your Auto Europe rate.

    Click on any car hire fee for definitions and more information

    Europe Car Hire Fees
    Type Average Cost Disclosed in Your Auto Europe Quote Details? Disclosed in Other Quotes?
    VAT Taxes $$ Always Sometimes
    One Way Fees $$$$ Always Sometimes
    Extras and Add Ons $$ Always Always
    Local Taxes $ Always Rarely
    Location Surcharges $$ Always Rarely
    International Travel Fees $$$ Always Sometimes
    Extra Insurance Costs $$$ Always Rarely
    Fuel Policies $$ Always Sometimes
    Limited/Unlimited Mileage $ Always Always
    Driver Fees $$$ Always Rarely

    VAT Car Hire Tax

    Appears on car hire contracts as: VAT Tax, Value Added Tax

    Typically Costs: 15% to 30%, depending on country

    What you need to know: VAT (or Value Added Tax) is a standard European sales tax that varies among different nations in Europe. The minimum allowed VAT rate is 15%, but individual countries can set their rates higher, and some will charge up to 27%. You will have to pay VAT on your hire rate (whether or not it is pre-paid), as well as any other extra equipment charges or local fees you are charged for at the hire desk, including one way fees, insurance costs, and location surcharges. Unlike VAT tax paid on goods, clothing, and souvenirs, which can be reclaimed at the airport upon your departure, you cannot reclaim any VAT taxes you pay on a car hire.

    Avoiding Car Hire VAT Tax: Hire car VAT tax is usually included in a quoted car hire cost, but it can sometimes be left out and charged locally. If VAT tax is not included in your initial quote, you may end up having to pay more than you bargained for once you're actually picking up your hire car! Look over your car hire contract and keep an eye out for terms like "including VAT," "taxes extra," and "plus VAT" to find out whether or not a given quote includes these mandatory taxes.

    One Way Car Hire Fees

    Appears on car hire contracts as: International One Way Fee, Domestic One Way Fee, Vehicle Return Fee, Drop Charge

    Typically Costs: Anywhere from 164.49 ZAR to 16448.67 ZAR depending on hire specifics

    What you need to know: One way fees may apply to your hire if you plan on dropping off your vehicle at a different location than you originally pick it up from. The fees can either be paid locally (at the hire desk when you are picking up) and charged in local currency or included in your pre-paid rate. Be sure to pay close attention whenever you are taking a hire car one way because these fees can sometimes be expensive!

    One way fees are grouped into two distinct categories: domestic and international. Domestic one ways are often allowed at no additional cost and are much cheaper than international one ways, which will always apply to any hire between two different countries. Be sure to check out our informational page for more specifics on one way car hires in Europe

    Avoiding One Way Car Hire Fees: When it comes to domestic one way hires (within the same country), some suppliers may charge one way fees, even within the same city, while others may allow you to drop your car off at any location within the nation's borders at no additional charge. Check your quote or contract thoroughly to make sure any domestic one way fees are either included or won't apply, or find out how much these charges will be to factor them into your hunt for the best overall deal. Keep an eye out for terms like "D.O.W. included," "drop charge due at pick up," and "one way fee required."

    International one ways will invariably incur a significant fee, the lower end of which will run around 1644.87 ZAR. There is simply no way to avoid paying the extra costs necessary to get a car back to the country that it came from; however, you can adjust your travel plans to accommodate for cheaper options. As long as you stay within Western Europe, there usually aren't any additional international travel fees for driving your hire car to other countries. The big fees are incurred by dropping off your vehicle in a different country than you picked it up in. So don't abandon your dreams of touring Europe by car because of an international one way fee; just plan on getting back to where you started after completing your tour!

    Car Hire Equipment

    Appears on car hire contracts as: Car Hire Equipment (GPS, child seats, winter tires, etc.), Add-Ons, Extras 

    Typically Costs: 82.24 ZAR to 246.73 ZAR per day, per item

    What you need to know: You will always have the option of adding additional equipment to your hire depending on your unique needs or preferences. The most commonly available accessories include GPS units, child seats, snow chains, ski racks, and portable WiFi devices, but other options may be offered in different locations. Additional equipment is usually charged on a per-day basis, and prices will range depending on the supplier you are renting from; add-ons will always cost extra, to be paid for at the counter and subject to VAT, unless your quote or contract explicitly states them as "included". Be sure to take care of the accessories you add on, too, because you will have to pay a replacement fee for any loss, theft, or damages done to the items!

    It is important to note that, while extra equipment is optional and you generally decide whether to include it or not, many countries in Europe have laws regarding child seats that require children under a specific age and/or size to have one. Checking ahead for local child seat laws can save you a hefty fine and, most importantly, keep your kids safe on your journey abroad! Check out our informational page on car hire equipment for more specifics and resources on optional accessories and add-ons.

    Avoiding Car Hire Equipment Fees: You will almost always have to pay extra for additional equipment, but keep an eye out for special promotions and travel deals that can help you save money on accessories. Look into signing up for an international data plan so you can access maps and resources on your smartphone or tablet, and consider bringing your own GPS unit from home. You can also bring your own child seats along with you, but the hassle of carrying this bulky item in your luggage usually outweighs the cost of renting locally.

    Local Hire Car Taxes

    Car Hire FeesAppears on car hire contracts as: Road Tax, Vehicle License Fee, Environmental Fee/Eco Surcharge, Credit Card Processing Fee, Road Safety Fee

    Typically Costs: 16.45 ZAR to 82.24 ZAR per day

    What you need to know: Local taxes may apply to your vehicle hire depending on the type of vehicle you rent, the location you rent it in, and which supplier you choose to rent from. While typically not very expensive, local taxes are often overlooked and have become prime suspects in the realm of dastardly "hidden" fees. They are not always included and rarely mentioned in your average hire quote, but you can almost count on having to pay a few extra Euros at the pick-up desk on any car hire for various location-specific taxes.

    Avoiding Local Hire Car Taxes: Unfortunately, there is simply no way to avoid any sort of tax, local or otherwise, but just be wary that these legitimate extra fees do exist and will be listed in your hire car contract.

    Hire Car Location Surcharges

    Appears on car hire contracts as: Airport Surcharge, Rail Station Surcharge, Premium Location Surcharge, Parking Fees, Out of Hours Fees, Late Return Fees 

    Typically Costs: 493.46 ZAR to 822.43 ZAR

    What you need to know: Location surcharges are typically applied when picking up your hire car at major transportation hubs throughout Europe, such as airports, rail stations, and cruise ports. The standard additional charge for picking a car up at one of these locations is 657.95 ZAR, but the fee can vary from 328.97 ZAR to 986.92 ZAR in some cases. Depending on the locale, additional location-related charges may be applied, such as "parking fees," which are incurred in areas like Venice where parking space is very limited.

    Be sure to pay attention to the hours of operation for the offices where you plan on picking up and dropping off the vehicle, as well as the specific times you've arranged your hire for. Dropping off your car later than the agreed-upon time on your reservation can cost you a "late return fee" and, depending on the time of day you originally picked up the car, can also add an additional day onto your total hire rate.

    Avoiding Hire Car Location Surcharges: Picking up your hire downtown as opposed to at an airport or rail station will often be cheaper because you can avoid any location surcharges. Be wary, however, that you will have to pay for a cab or navigate public transportation to get to a downtown office from your arrival point. For those landing at an airport or coming in by train, the additional location surcharges are often worth the convenience of picking up your car right after you get off your plane or train rather than hauling your luggage to a downtown office. Aeroport and rail station car hire locations also have longer operating hours, so you won't have to pay an "out of hours fee" if you plan on picking up very late at night or very early in the morning. As always, review your car hire contract or quote thoroughly to see what additional fees apply to your hire so you can make a proper plan of action to avoid them where possible.

    International Car Hire Travel Fees

    Appears on car hire contracts as: Cross Border Fee, Travel to Other Countries

    Typically Costs: 328.97 ZAR to 822.43 ZAR

    What you need to know: International car hire travel fees may apply to your reservation if you plan on driving outside the country at some point during the course of your hire. You must mention any planned travel that crosses international borders when arranging your reservation and, if the travel is permitted, there may be extra fees incurred for outfitting your hire vehicle with the proper documentation, toll stickers, and licensing necessary for traveling to other countries.

    Since border crossings in Western Europe are relatively easy, traveling between countries is almost always permitted free of charge. Travelers will, however, run into "cross border fees" when driving between any non-EU nations, particularly any countries in Eastern Europe. But regardless of what countries you plan on sojourning in, always make your plans known to the company you are renting through; taking a hire car across borders without prior notice is a violation of contract terms and will void any insurance coverage you have!

    Avoiding International Car Hire Travel Fees: Different companies will charge different amounts for international car hire travel, and some may not permit certain travel at all. While there is no way to avoid these fees altogether, savvy consumers can take care to consider these extra costs when hunting for the best overall rates. Pay special attention to terms like "cross border fee" and "border crossing charge" when reading your car hire contracts or quotes, and don't wait until you're at the pick-up desk to let your supplier know you plan on driving outside the country.

    Extra Insurance Car Hire Costs

    Appears on car hire contracts as: Administration Fee, Processing Fee

    Typically Costs: 493.46 ZAR to 822.43 ZAR

    What you need to know: Assuming you know the basics of hire car insurance in Europe, there are still some extra car hire costs related to insurance that you should be aware of. Beyond the amounts due for the insurance coverage itself and security deposits or credit card holds, you may be hit with additional fees in the event of a collision or theft. An "administration fee" of anywhere from 657.95 ZAR to 1315.89 ZAR will be assessed to cover the cost of paperwork and filing if you happen to get into an accident and will be supplementary to any other amount you owe towards your deductible.

    When it comes to car hire insurance in Ireland specifically, be on the lookout for "processing fees." These fees will apply to most basic or non-inclusive rates in the country and take effect whenever you opt out of insurance through the local hire company itself. The amount of this fee is usually 493.46 ZAR; coincidentally around the same price basic insurance costs for most car hires. In Ireland, using insurance coverage from your credit card is possible, albeit tricky, but be wary of any extra insurance car hire costs that can result from opting for a basic rate!

    Avoiding Insurance Car Hire Costs: Additional insurance-related car hire costs will usually not take effect unless you get into an accident or collision. Choosing a full insurance policy or making sure you are well-covered by your credit card hire car insurance can help you to recoup any costs incurred in the unfortunate event of an accident, but the best method of avoiding insurance costs is accident prevention. Research the local driving laws and regulations of your chosen destination before you depart, and be sure to rent a car size and class you are comfortable driving. You'll want to relax on your vacation abroad, and as long as your insurances are sorted out for a vehicle you are familiar with operating, you'll have plenty of peace of mind!

    More Info on Hire Car Insurance

    Car Hire Fuel Policy

    Appears on car hire contracts as: Full to Full, Full to Empty

    Typically Costs: Local price of fuel

    What you need to know: Your car hire fuel policy will determine how you will pay for any existing fuel your hire car comes with when you pick it up. With a full to full policy, you will pay nothing up front but will be expected to return the vehicle with the same amount of fuel your car had when you picked it up (usually a full tank); you will be charged for any fuel missing when the vehicle is returned. If your hire includes a full to empty fuel policy, you will pre-pay a given amount for a full tank of fuel and can return the vehicle as close to empty as possible without incurring any additional fuel costs.

    Avoiding Car Hire Fuel Policy Costs: Optional fuel policies are generally a matter of preference, but be aware that all hire companies will charge a premium for any type of fuel, usually based on the highest price per liter available in the area. To save on fuel charges, opt for a full to full policy when available, fill up the hire car right before you return it, and retain a copy of the receipt for your records. It may be a bit less convenient to have to make a fuel stop just before dropping off, but that little bit of extra work can save you some money on the premium rates you will have to pay for a tank of gas through a full to empty policy.

    Limited/Unlimited Mileage Car Hires

    Appears on car hire contracts as: Limited Kilometers

    Typically Costs: 8.22 ZAR to 32.90 ZAR per additional kilometer

    What you need to know: If your car hire includes unlimited mileage/kilometers, then you have no worries; you can cover as much ground as you'd like in your hire car without incurring any extra fees!

    Some hire rates, however, may be specified as "limited kilometers," in which case you will be charged extra if you drive the car farther than an allotted distance. Limited kilometer hires usually come with 100 to 300 kilometers per day, after which you will have to pay an extra fee per additional kilometer driven.

    Avoiding Limited Kilometer Car Hire Costs: A majority of hire car rates offered in Europe include unlimited kilometers, but be sure to read your car hire contract or quote to be certain of what is and isn't included. Limited kilometer hires are, for the most part, cheaper than unlimited kilometer hires, so there is an opportunity to save some cash if you don't plan on driving long distances. But be careful if you choose a limited kilometer hire because additional kilometers can accumulate quickly and result in considerable extra fees if you aren't careful!

    Driver Fees

    Appears on car hire contracts as: Additional Driver Fee, Young Driver Surcharge, Senior Driver Fee

    Typically Costs: 82.24 ZAR to 328.97 ZAR per day

    What you need to know: Driver fees may be added on to your hire depending on the age and number of drivers you wish to have registered to drive the hire car. Typically, if you want to register extra people to drive the hire car aside from the primary driver to whom the hire is listed under, an "additional driver fee" will be assessed on a per-day basis. In some cases, a free additional driver will be included in a given quote; if this is the case, it is always clearly stated along with the rest of your hire details.

    The age of a prospective driver can also potentially incur extra fees on your hire. If you're a driver under 25 years old, there's a good chance you will be charged an extra 246.73 ZAR to 411.22 ZAR per day as a "young driver surcharge" to recoup the additional insurance risks posed by younger drivers. On the opposite end of the spectrum (and far less common), some hire companies will charge extra for drivers over the age of 75.

    Avoiding Driver Fees: Check with the companies you are considering renting through to see what their policies regarding drivers are. Some hire suppliers may charge you an additional driver fee while another may allow you to register an extra driver for free. The specific ages used to determine senior and young driver surcharges also vary by supplier; one may charge any driver under 25 an extra daily fee, for example, while another will only charge for drivers under 19. Read your terms and condition to be aware of any driver fees you may be responsible for upon pickup of your hire car!