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How to save money on driving abroad: Skyscanner guide to car hire charges

Here's our handy guide to car hire charge costs, with some money-saving advice on getting a cheaper car hire deal that's right for you. Skyscanner have checked the policies and prices of the big car hire companies so you can see clearly what the charges are if you're driving in the most popular European driving destinations: Spain, France, Germany, Italy and the UK.

How to get a good deal on car hire abroad

Check our handy tables below to see which company is cheapest for what you need, but always remember to shop around. Although a headline deal price might be tempting, costs vary a great deal. One company might be the cheapest option for one destination but the most expensive for another. And consider all the extras you might need, like excess waiver, child seats and additional drivers. These hidden costs can bump up the price considerably.

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Tips for car hire in the UK

Whilst the UK boasts some of the lowest excess waiver insurance in Europe and Thrifty offers very competitive rates for child seats and additional drivers, the UK is on average the most expensive country for hiring a car in our comparison.

Tips for car hire in Italy

When considering driving holidays in Italy it is worth researching the car hire excess payable if the vehicle is stolen (as these can be costly) and therefore the excess waiver options on offer.

Cost to hire a car in Italy

Tips for car hire in Spain

If you’re planning on driving in Spain this summer, you’ll be delighted to see this family-friendly destination has the cheapest rate for a seven-day rental (including two child seats and one additional driver).

Cost to rent a car in Spain

Tips for car hire in France

France has the cheapest child car seats rental by far at little over £8 for the week with Enterprise, who also offer the cheapest rate for additional drivers. However driving in France is one of the most expensive options in Europe – costing around twice as much as it costs to hire a car in Germany or Spain. If you can stretch it, check out these beautiful pieces of road in the South of France. C’est la vie.

Car hire cost in France

Tips for car hire in Germany

With some of the best driving roads in Europe, Germany is a great option for a driving holiday and also offers great value for money when it comes to car hire. At just over £100 for a week, Enterprise comes out top in Germany both for the basic seven day car hire and also when the extra charges are added. However, it has one of the highest hire car excess prices in our study, so it’s worth considering looking elsewhere for your excess waiver insurance.

Cost of car hire in Germany

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Tips for making car hire cheaper:

– Take your own child seat. Most airlines allow you to take them for free

– Consider taking out an annual excess waiver insurance policy which can cost as little as £40 for driving in Europe

– Most car hire companies let you add a driver for just part of your rental period, so consider when you need that extra pair of hands on the wheel

– Always ensure you don’t go over your 24 hour rental period

– The best fuel policy for all car hire companies is to return FULL, which incurs no charge. But when returning your car, do remember to allow enough time to find the nearest petrol station, as you will be charged if it’s not returned full. Each car hire quote has its own fuel policy, but on Skyscanner, we highlight the quotes with the fairest and best value fuel policy – look out for our Fair Fuel icon.

More tips for a top road trip!

Driving abroad guides

Speed limits, strange signs, unique laws and handy tips: essential download guides to driving abroad in 10 popular places for a fly-drive holiday.

Skyscanner’s guide to hidden charges

To help you choose the cheapest and most suitable car hire deal we’ve also highlighted some of the hidden charges and extra fees that car hire companies may add.

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  • All prices are based on pre-paid seven-day car hire for a driver (aged 30) from 31 May to 7 June
  • All prices are lead-in rates for their cheapest four person vehicle
  • Child seat fees are for child/toddler seats
  • Prices were calculated based on pick-up and return to the below airports. Capital cities were chosen except in Spain where Barcelona was chosen as a more suitable alternative:
– UK: Heathrow Airport (T1, 2, 3, 4)
– Italy – Rome Fiumicino Airport
– Spain – Barcelona El Prat Airport
– France – Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport
– Germany – Berlin Tegel Airport
  • Excess has been listed for theft protection and collision damage.
  • All euro prices converted to £ using on 12 May 2014
  • Research was collated by searching online and (where info wasn’t available online) calling the customer service lines.