Car rental

Renting a vehicle at your holiday destination is a practical solution but not without risks. What should I pay attention to when booking online? Why do rental companies often require a "credit" card? What to check once at the agency?...

Here are our practical tips for renting abroad with peace of mind.

Online reservation: No right of withdrawal from rental car agreement

As opposed to the majority of online purchases, consumers have no legal right of withdrawal for online reservations of rental cars. Once booked, a free-of-charge cancellation is generally not possible.

Agreements entered at the rental car premises

Even when booked on the internet, the actual rental contract is generally concluded at the rental car company’s premises when picking up the car. The corresponding contract is normally presented in the language of the country where the car is rented.

Check carefully that the rental contract reflects the conditions which were communicated to you at the time of the online booking and that you do not contract unwanted additional services.

Often, the rental contract includes additional insurance products reducing or eliminating the excess in case of accident. Such insurance products can make sense, but please check that you do not already have full insurance coverage via your credit card or a membership in an automobile club.

Please check the fueling conditions – in most cases, your rental car is delivered with a full gas tank and you have to return it in the same condition. It may be cheaper to fill it up at an external gas station before returning the car. In any case, check this information when renting the car, otherwise you may be asked to pay more than necessary.

In any case, insist on receiving a copy of the rental agreement.

Handover protocol

It sometimes happens that consumers are charged after the return of a rental car for pretended damages of the car. Often, consumers are only aware of such additional charges the very moment their credit card is debited. 

  • Always make sure that damages are indicated on the handover protocol (check-out report).
  • Insist on receiving a written handover protocol after returning the rental car, confirming that you have not caused any additional damage during the rental period - do not accept a verbal statement (check-in report).

If you return the car outside the opening hours of the rental company, make some photographs from all sides of the vehicle in order to be able to prove that you are not liable for any damage caused later to the vehicle.

If the rental car company charges for damages, ask the company for evidence of the damage and repair costs. If the rental car company fails to provide this evidence, charge back the amount debited from your credit card.

In case of accident

If you happen to have an accident with a rental car, inform immediately the rental car company. Many rental car contracts include the obligation for you to call the police in case of an accident, even if no third party is involved. If the consumer fails to comply with this obligation, the entire insurance coverage can be void. Please read your rental car contract carefully and follow exactly the indicated procedure.

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Brochure: Car rental in Europe

Moving freely around during your holidays thanks to a rental car! It is a good idea, but some advice are useful to rent in peace.

Fines and tickets

If you violate the traffic rules when driving a rental car, you have to pay the corresponding fines and tickets.

The rental car companies pass on your personal data to the competent authorities requesting them to do so. In many cases, the rental car companies charge a fee for handling such requests which are debited from the credit card of the consumer. The actual ticket will then be sent to you by the relevant authority.

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Innovation Council and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Executive Agency (EISMEA). Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.