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Playing around with car rentals - and Europcar


Posts: 206
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Topic starter
(@thomasribatejo)
Estimable Member
Joined: 5 years ago

Related to my immediately preceding ACP post, some thoughts around car rental.

When we ended up carless, and didn't want to head home, losing €265 of pre-paid accommodation, and a chance at some exploration, we looked for a rental.

I've already found that Europcar is most likely to have lower prices on basic cars and vans, outside of Lisbon and the Algarve, than the other providers.

They also have the lowest one-way rental fees in my experience, adding very little to the total cost of, say, a week's rental.  In this recent case, Elvas (between Évora and the Spanish border) and Santarém - added around €20 in total.

Their prices are better in less obvious locations, but ones with just enough business to have cars sitting there.  Like Elvas and Santarém!

The final revelation, though, was where to book this.  The exact same rental, booked direct, was over €300 for a week.

Using Expedia, the European or UK sites, was around the €220-250 mark - still pushing it, to stave off a €265 loss of accommodation.

Using Expedia US - even when logged in using my account which has all my PT details - was the equivalent in USD of €188.  Bingo!

Now, I don't think this means that Expedia's US site will always be cheaper.  But it does mean: don't assume that using a PT or EU site will be the best offer.  It may be.  It may not be.  And an hour of searching may or may not save you 30-40% on your rental.

(Expedia is, in Europe, now often better on prices than most of the other "scraper" sites, though - I have no affiliation, but for the last 3-5 years, I have spent lots of time researching, and for basic cars, they have always come up better than booking direct, and than other sites.  Don't take my word for it - but they are worth looking at).

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Posts: 2163
VIP Member
(@old-bloke)
Noble Member
Joined: 14 years ago

Out of interest I just had a look at hiring a basic small car for a week. The price on their EU site was €194, on their US site it was $80 (about €72).
Both hires were from Europcar (the only car hire near us). In previous years when I've needed to I've hired direct from Europcar. The price for the same car for the same dates and period booking direct with Europcar was €306.
I won't be doing that again as even the EU price was cheaper than a direct booking.
Thanks for the tip.

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Posts: 239
Premium Member
(@itexpert7)
Estimable Member
Joined: 2 years ago

Thank you, a good tip!. Indeed it's crazy that car rental sites are so expensive directly!

Did you try Zest car rental at all? They offer free full insurance! I'm using them for 10 years. Does Expedia US offer full insurance?

I had a bad experience with Europcar in Germany, they charged me over 800 euros for an alloy wheel scratch (not a big scratch) to allegedly buy a ... new alloy wheel!
After some paperwork and weeks, Zest paid the 800+.

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Ask our Expat Consultant
(@thomasribatejo)
Joined: 5 years ago

Estimable Member
Posts: 206

@itexpert7 I did and didn't try Zest - or less cryptically, they only cover tourist locations (nothing to speak of in most cities in Portugal, loads on the coast in even small places).

Whilst it doesn't help in one's country of residence (as provided on the paperwork), car hire excess insurance is wonderful when travelling.  A large, unexpected pothole pretty much wrote off a rental in Ukraine a few years back, and whilst we had to pay up front, the insurers refunded all but the cost of the phone calls.  (Currently using Questor for this, one of the few providers offering it to PT addresses).

Europcar here seem to be honest - I've used them a dozen or more times, mostly for vans, and they've never quibbled.  I have yet to find a car hire company consistent across countries, on pricing or service, sadly.

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VIP Member
(@x-camone)
Joined: 12 years ago

Noble Member
Posts: 2374
Posted by: @thomasribatejo

...Whilst it doesn't help in one's country of residence (as provided on the paperwork), car hire excess insurance is wonderful when travelling.  A large, unexpected pothole pretty much wrote off a rental in Ukraine a few years back, and whilst we had to pay up front, the insurers refunded all but the cost of the phone calls.  (Currently using Questor for this, one of the few providers offering it to PT addresses).

Europcar here seem to be honest - I've used them a dozen or more times, mostly for vans, and they've never quibbled.  I have yet to find a car hire company consistent across countries, on pricing or service, sadly.

Oops - I didn't know excess insurance doesn't cover you in country of residence. Is there no way of getting cover for that? 

I'm looking at booking right now from Europcar via Expedia and thought the excess insurance they offer on the booking form looked reasonable enough - will it not do? 

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Posts: 14
Community Member
(@ismoore999)
Active Member
Joined: 4 months ago

I live in Lisbon, by Alameda, which is on a metro line from the airport or about 10 minutes by taxi. Interestingly, it was often the case that to rent from Eurpcar at the Airport was about 30% more than renting the same car from Alameda. Only downside is they are closed of a weekend. Anyway, bottom line is see if you can get a better deal picking up close to but not at the airport!

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Posts: 718
Admin UserGroup
(@gerry)
Honorable Member
Joined: 2 years ago

I need a car rental in UK shortly and was quite surprised at the high prices from the regular companies. At least since I last booked in UK about 2 years ago. So, I took a leaf from my own book and tried Zest. Pleasently surprised at the cost in comparison to the others, no additional insurance required and 2 drivers included. Also got the discount for being a member of this site 😊. Only downside is I have a 400 mile limit but that doesn't bother me for this trip.

 

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