No one wants to get turned away from the rental counter empty handed. Find out the biggest pitfalls in car hire so you can enjoy a smooth and stress-free start to your journey.
1) No credit card in main driver’s name
Hire car companies ask for a credit card in the main driver’s name so they can block a deposit on it, to protect them against losing money if anything happens to the car while you have it. If someone doesn’t have a credit card, the counter staff can’t take the deposit, so they won’t hand over the key. To find out more, see What to take with you when you pick up your rental car.
2) No driving licence
The main driver (and anyone else driving the car of course) needs a full driving licence to drive a hire car. The rental company will need to see it to feel confident the driver’s legally allowed on the road. Most rental companies expect drivers to have held their full licence for a year or two before they rent.
3) No International Driving Permit
Depending on where you’re from and where you’re hiring, you might need an International Driving Permit to rent a car. It works alongside your normal driving licence and translates it. They’re issued by the same authority as your driving licence, so it’s a question of getting one before you go. To find out more, see How to get an International Driving Permit.
4) No voucher
Your rental voucher is like a ticket or receipt – it’s proof that you’ve booked and paid for your rental car, so the counter staff will ask to see it. If you book with Rentalcars.com, you can take the voucher on paper, or show the staff the voucher on the app.
5) Turning up late
When you hire a car it’s a little like booking a table in a restaurant – if you don’t turn up, they’ll wait a while, then give the table – in this case car – to someone else. If you’re running late for any reason, it’s a good idea to give the rental company a call. If you’re arriving by plane and you log your flight number when you book the car, the counter staff will know you’re delayed and hold it for a while. To find out more, see Help! I’m running late to pick up my rental car.
6) Not enough credit to cover deposit
The counter staff will block a deposit on your credit card when you arrive to pick up the car. If there isn’t enough credit on someone’s card, or it doesn’t work for any other reason, they won’t be able to take the deposit, so they won’t hand over the keys.
7) Couldn’t find Rentalcars.com counter
Rentalcars.com helps you to find a great deal and book your car with the world’s most well-known brands. So when you arrive to pick up your car, it’s that brand’s counter you’ll be looking for, rather than Rentalcars.com or any other website you might have booked through.
8) No proof of ID
Different rental companies have their own ID requirements, so it’s always worth checking what they need in your Ts&Cs before you set off. As well as a driving licence, they might ask for a passport, International Driving Permit, other photo ID and/or proofs of address for example.
9) Undisclosed points on driving licence
If you have any endorsements on your licence it’s worth checking your Ts&Cs to see the car hire company’s rules.
Rental companies will want to see if you have any points or endorsements before they hand over the keys to your car. With a UK licence, you’ll need a DVLA check code for this (find out more here: https://www.gov.uk/view-driving-licence).
If someone has points for common faults such as speeding or traffic signal violation, car hire companies tend to be flexible and let them take a car in most cases. However, if someone has penalties for more serious offences, such as dangerous driving, theft of a vehicle or driving without insurance or a licence, most companies will not allow them to rent. To find out more, see UK drivers: how to get a licence check code when you rent a car.
10) Unexpected charges
In car hire, even if you book your car in advance, there are some fees that you pay when you arrive at the counter to pick up your car. These include one-way fees, young driver fees and various other charges. If you book online, you’ll find these local charges explained in the Ts&Cs of your deal. So reading those will save you nasty surprises at the counter.