A new study of European car hire prices this summer has found that prices have almost halved since January 2023 and the closer to the departure date the higher the savings that can made.
On average, weekly car hire prices have fallen by 45% from £578, if booked in January, to £317 if booked now – a saving of £261.
New research from iCarhireinsurance.com, a leading provider of stand-alone car hire excess insurance, compares the cost of booking a medium compact rental car, e.g., a VW Golf or Ford Focus, for a week, from 29 July to 5 August 2023, if booked in January 2023, in April 2023 or just four days before departure in July 2023. Seven European destinations (Barcelona, Crete, Dalaman, Dubrovnik, Faro, Milan and Nice) and six rental companies’ (Sixt, Hertz, Avis, Budget, Enterprise and Europcar) prices were surveyed each time.
The biggest savings are in Milan and Barcelona where it cost, on average, £658 and £590 respectively if booked in January for a week’s summer car hire, compared to £227 and £228 respectively now, a saving of £431 (66%) in Milan and £362 (61%) in Barcelona. Similarly, in Faro, it cost, on average, £657 in January, but £287 now, a saving of £370 (56%).
Car hire average prices this summer are over £300 cheaper than in 2022, and almost back to 2019 levels (if booking now for summer). In 2022, the average car hire cost across the seven European destinations for the same summer week was £660 (if booked in May 2022), compared to £358 in 2019 (if booked in May 2019). This year, last minute bookings cost £317 on average.
“If you’ve already booked your hire car for this summer, it’s certainly worth checking prices again to see if they’ve fallen since you first booked,” said Ben Wooltorton at iCarhireinsurance.com.
“Some companies offer free cancellation without penalty, within a permitted time frame, usually 48 hours, allowing you to cancel and rebook a better deal.
“Our survey looking at last-minute car rental prices across popular holiday destinations for British holidaymakers finds that the average cost of booking now versus back in January has fallen by over £260, showing significant savings can be made,” Wooltorton continued.
As well as shopping around for the best car hire price, savings can also be made on extras bought at the rental desk.
The most expensive of these is car hire excess protection which protects a hirer from having to pay the excess amount if the hire car is damaged or stolen, which can be as high as £2,000, according to this study. The rental companies charge, on average, £155 for a week’s super damage excess policy and £48 for a tyre and windscreen excess policy, costing £203 in total.
Buying a standalone car hire excess insurance policy from a specialist insurance company, like iCarhireinsurance.com, before you travel, costs from £33.15* for a week’s protection (from £41.99** for an annual policy) and includes damage, theft, and tyre and windscreen cover – this is around six times cheaper than buying from the rental company.
Other extra charges include paying for an extra driver, costing £55, on average, renting a sat nav, costing £77, on average, and hiring a child’s car seat, costing £66, on average.
Ben Wooltorton said: “It’s important to check the prices of any extras you may need, so there are no costly surprises when you pick up the rental car. Considerable savings can be made by buying car hire excess insurance from a specialist insurance provider, like iCarhireinsurance.com, rather than the excess waivers sold at the rental desk, as well as bringing your own sat nav, or using your smartphone, and travelling with your own child’s car seat. Also do think about whether you really need to put an extra driver on the policy.”
* £33.15 based on a 30-year-old UK resident buying an 8-day single trip car hire excess policy from iCarhireinsurance.com for use in Europe.
** £41.99 annual price is based on a UK resident aged between 30-80 purchasing an excess Europe annual policy excluding in-country cover