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Car rental tips: save time at the car hire desk

In a great variety of destinations in southern Europe, such as Italy, Spain and Portugal, car hire from low-cost car rental companies is only slightly cheaper than from the regular providers.

The temptation to get the lowest price often lead rent-a-car customers to overlook rental conditions which, in some cases are simply not the most advantageous and may result in a higher final coast of rental than the price might have suggested.

Long waiting times at the rental desk are the first obvious downside of opting for the cheapest offers. You are not the only one who spotted the car hire bargain and the queue at the rent a car counter at the airport or holiday resort is a proof of that.


New Mini Clubman, in the fleet of car hire companies.

A few car rental tips may help you get quicker through the rent a car pick-up process.

1. Resist the cheapest car hire deals

When comparing car hire deals in a given location you will usually notice very varied prices for the same type of a vehicle. While the difference between the cheapest and the most expensive deals is may be, at times, abysmal, the best priced offers are often only marginally cheaper than the second or third best deals.

If together with money you are also looking to save time, avoid choosing the absolute cheapest car rental companies, as the low cost banner has surely gotten attention of many other customers. Also, even if you have made it to the desk in a reasonable time, the satisfaction of getting a good quote on you holiday rental car may not last long if you have not read carefully rental conditions.

With a limited scope for making profit, the low-cost car rental companies often try to compensate for the low price base price by setting quite much higher than the average the fees for the optional services, such as baby seat or GPS rental. An additional driver or a young driver are also likely to pay more when renting from a low-cost company, and in an event of damage and theft, the excess amount may be an unpleasant surprise for customers who opted for not purchasing the excess insurance.

Always read thoroughly the rental conditions and, for as appealing as the price may seem, consider if the £10-20 economy when compared to regular car rental companies, is really worth it, in your particular case.

2. Meet & greet service may save you time when hiring a car

An office located directly at the airport is a luxury a few low-cost car rental companies can afford.

If you are determined to use a budget provider upon your arrival to an airport, a shuttle bus to the office outside the airport grounds is the most likely scenario. The bus is provided by the rent-a-car company and free of charge but the customer needs to add the time needed to find the bus stop and the transfer to the total journey time.  A queue at the counter of the car rental company is still a possibility.

For those who travel in a relaxed manner, without much luggage and tight schedules, the bus is not that much of an inconvenience. However, those who would like to make their low-cost car rental experience as smooth as possible, may prefer to opt for companies which offer a meet & greet service.

In this modality, the company’s representative awaits the customer in the arrivals hall and accompanies him/her to the rental car parked at the airport. All the formalities (signing of the contract and payment via portable terminal) are completed on the spot which saves the customer time otherwise needed to get to the rental desk and then queue in (the very likely) case there are other customers too.

Meet & greet procedure is usually quite efficient, although in some cases, a phone call to the car rental company may be necessary if their representative fails to be in the arrivals hall on time.

To make sure you don’t have to wait too long, contact the car rental company (via phone number provided on your car hire voucher) and let them know of your arrival as soon as you got off the plane, even before you have collected your luggage.

3. Head to the car rental desk and let your travel companions collect your luggage

When travelling in a group of people, skip the wait at the luggage belt and go straight to the car rental desk. Have your friends pick up your suitcase, while you are sorting the paperwork at the counter to shorten the total waiting time before you can drive off the airport in your hire car.