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Car Hire Guide: 9 Things You Must Know When Hiring a Car

Having your own ride when travelling always feels so luxurious than having to squish into public transport, but what are some of the key things you must know? We'll be covering our top 9 tips right here!

Car Hire from Avis Australia: Toyota Corolla Hybrid
Car Hire from Avis Australia: Toyota Corolla Hybrid

1. Choosing a car hire company: We highly recommend you do your research online and compare the reliability and reviews of different car hire companies in the location you’re travelling to. This ensures a few things: your personal safety, and the safety of your wallet (so the budget doesn’t blow out!).

When selecting a car hire company, we prefer reputable companies (such as Hertz, Avis, Thrifty etc.), to avoid having to worry about cheeky tactics, some of which you may have seen overseas. The majority of car hire companies in western countries are relatively reliable, but regardless of where you go, we suggest reading up on reviews to satisfy any ‘spidey’ senses.

2. Choosing your vehicle: Your choice of vehicle would usually be dependent on a range of factors. We have listed the key considerations for you below:


International and Domestic Car Hire Tips
International and Domestic Car Hire Tips

3. Reserving your vehicle: Once you’ve found a vehicle that suits, we recommend reserving a vehicle ahead of your arrival to ensure that particular vehicle will be available at the price that you want.

When reserving your vehicle, you should also be conscious of any additional surcharges such as young driver surcharge (usually under 25 years old), and one way surcharge (if you return to a different location).

It’s also worthwhile to check whether tolls are included, usually these are charged as you go through a toll point or available as a package upfront, charged per day of car hire.

While you're doing all of this, make sure you check your international driver licence requirements to ensure you've got what you need to drive lawfully in another country.

Tip: Car hire companies would often have codes for ‘special packages’ on their promotions page. As an example, these codes may be valid for weekend hires, hiring more than 7 days, returning to a specified location (when car hire companies have too many vehicles in the one location) etc. These generally give you a percentage off the total car hire cost or give you additional days at no extra cost. Alternatively, if there is nothing there, you may wish to check your frequent flyer partners, sometimes they will also have offers available to their members. Either way, we think it’s worthwhile checking before you hit that ‘book’ button so you have more money for future travels!

4. Passports: To give or not to give: In Asian countries such as Thailand, some car hire (or motorbike hire) places request you leave your passport with them.. We don’t particularly like the idea of leaving our passports with someone we don’t know, especially in a foreign country. To overcome this, we generally travel with multiple photocopies of our passport to hand over to the car hire company and show them our original passport for verification upon vehicle pick up.

You should also be aware in some countries such as Thailand as an example, it is also a requirement for you to have your passport on you at all times. There will times the law and businesses contradict each other, but we would personally always go with satisfying the higher legislative hierarchy in a foreign country.

5. Check your car hire paperwork: This is quite cliché – just confirm your paperwork reflects what you have selected as per the above. This avoids any disputes on return of the vehicle. Many car hire companies now email a copy of the paperwork to you so make sure you have received it before leaving with the vehicle.

6. Picking up the vehicle: Ok, you’re headed to the carpark, you’ve found the vehicle bay number and there’s your vehicle… Now before you do anything else, check your vehicle for any damage and crosscheck this with your car hire paperwork. All existing damage should already be recorded. If not, take a photo or video and let the car hire company know. For car hire companies which use electronic paperwork, they will also send you a link to upload photos of any additional damage, make sure you do that.

Tip: Always take photos and/or videos of the entire vehicle with a date/time stamp. This ensures you have a record on the condition of the vehicle at the time of collection, prior to departing the car hire company carpark. This is a safeguard for your wallet. This also helps when you’re trying to pay for parking when it asks you to enter the vehicle registration.

7. In the vehicle – Bluetooth: Ok, so you want some tunes for your drive and you connect your phone via Bluetooth. We recommend that you don’t transfer your contacts and messages for security.

Tip: Before returning the vehicle, we suggest you remove your phone from the vehicle connection, so others who rent the vehicle after you won’t have access to your name, phone number or any other personal details.

8. Refuel: It’s often part of the contractual agreement that you return the vehicle with a full tank of fuel. Where possible, it’s a good habit to do this so you’re not charged at a premium for returning the vehicle with less than a full tank. Sometimes this can be double the price of what you’d pay at the service station.

9. Returning the vehicle:

Tip: When you arrive at the car hire drop off location, we recommend you take photos/videos of your vehicle again. This avoids any potential arguments or liability that may arise on the off chance someone else damages the vehicle whilst its sitting at the carpark before it gets assessed. Although there are CCTV cameras in most places these days, you just don’t know where it's pointing and whether the owner of the CCTV (usually a body corporate), will be willing provide you with access if you require it.

We hope you've found value in this article! Please feel free to share this with your travelling family and friends for their awareness.

Happy and safe travels!


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