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Average price to hire a car in Europe has rocketed to £500 a week

by LLB staff reporter
4th Aug 21 9:57 am

A new study of car hire costs in Europe this summer reveals that the average price to hire a car has rocketed to £500 a week, compared to £356 in 2019, an increase of £144.  Once extras are added such as extra drivers, child car seats, sat navs and excess waiver insurance, the average price increases to £944.

The study by iCarhireinsurance.com, a leading provider of stand-alone car hire excess insurance, looked at the cost of hiring a medium compact car, e.g., a VW Golf, Peugeot 308, for a week, 31 July – 7 August 2021, compared to the same week in 2019, in seven countries (Spain, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Switzerland, Germany and France), with the six rental companies of Sixt, Hertz, Avis, Budget, Enterprise and Europcar.

It also looked at the price of extras payable on arrival (i.e., excess insurance waivers, an additional driver, a child’s car seat and a sat nav, as well as the price of a tank of petrol (40 litres).

The study found the basic car rental rate varies from an average £388 in Barcelona, Spain, to £655 in Crete, Greece, and the biggest increase is in Munich, Germany, where prices are up £290 on average for the week, from £212 in 2019 to £502 in 2021.

Crete is the most expensive place to hire a car costing on average £655, up £195 from £460 in 2019, with all car hire companies charging over £600 for the week. (see table below).

Faro, Portugal, has seen the most reasonable rise but there are wide variations in the hire prices charged by the different companies, for instance Hertz is charging £661 for the week, compared to Enterprise and Sixt which are charging just under £400.

However, once all the extras are added, Geneva, Switzerland becomes the most expensive destination to hire this summer, with drivers paying on average £1,091 to hire a compact family car. This is £559 for the week’s rental, as well as £144 super damage waiver, £10 super theft waiver, £52 tyre and windscreen waiver cover, £88 an extra driver, £131 for a sat nav, £53 for a child’s car seat and £54 for a tank of petrol.

The average cost of the extras, across the survey, is £56 for a child’s car seat (most expensive is £88 with Budget in Munich), £62 for an extra driver (most expensive is £118 in Geneva with Hertz) and £86 for a sat nav (most expensive is £159 with Budget in Geneva).

Excess waiver insurance is the most expensive extra cost at the rental desk.  These policies protect drivers from the excess cost if their hire car is stolen or damaged, which in this study averages around £1,300.

Rental companies often sell three excess policies: super damage waiver, super theft waiver and tyre and windscreen excess. These cost on average £134 for super damage waiver, £14 for super theft waiver and £38 for tyre and windscreen excess, a combined average total of £186.  This is more than six times the cost of a car hire excess policy from a specialist provider, like iCarhireinsurance.com, which sells a week’s policy for £27.92, i.e., from £3.49 a day for European cover, this can be bought before leaving home. Annual policies are available from £42.99.

The most expensive price for excess waiver in the study was Faro with Avis charging £199 for super damage waiver alone, while the week’s car hire was £433.

From the most expensive to the cheapest including the week’s basic hire, a tank of petrol (40 litres) and the six extras payable on arrival at the rental desk (i.e., super damage waiver, super theft waiver, tyre and windscreen excess waiver, an additional driver, a child’s car seat and a sat nav), the seven countries stack up as below:

  1. Switzerland (pick up from Geneva Airport) – total cost is £1091 – up from £840 in 2019 (£251 difference)
  2. France (pick up from Nice Airport) – total cost is £994 – up from £841 in 2019 (£153 difference)
  3. Greece (pick up in Crete) – total cost is £974 – up from £729 in 2019 (£245 difference)
  4. Portugal (pick up from Faro Airport) – total cost is £928 – up from £902 in 2019 (£26 difference)
  5. Germany (pick up from Munich Airport) – total cost is £921 – up from £620 in 2019 (£301 difference)
  6. Spain (pick up from Barcelona Airport) – total cost is £852 – up from £729 in 2019 (£123 difference)
  7. Ireland (pick up from Dublin Airport) – total cost is £837 – up from £757 in 2019 (£80 difference)

Ernesto Suarez, founder and CEO of iCarhireinsurance.com said: “There’s always a lot of variation in car hire prices which are heavily influenced by supply and demand, which is why there can be big differences in the same locations. You may even get a different price with the same rental company depending on how far in advance you book your vehicle.

“Also, not forgetting the disruption caused to the car hire industry by the pandemic, which has put particular pressures on the ability of firms to estimate summer demand. Rental companies have also faced additional costs, such as enhanced cleaning regimes and other measures at collection and drop-off. These operational measures are inevitably going to have an impact on price.

He concludes, “One way you can be sure to save money is by taking extras with you, such as child car seats and sat navs, and buy excess insurance from a standalone provider before you travel.”

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