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Help, booking a car for the first time – what should I consider?

1. Things you need to know before booking

Booking early pays off
Don’t lose any time. Book your hire car online from home – don’t wait until you are on holiday. Above all in the main holiday season the demand for hire cars is extremely high, also prices are rarely more competitive at the destination. On the contrary: You normally pay more and may not get the kind of car you were looking for. Often you get a lower car category for a higher price.
Ideally you should book your hire car well in advance online. That way you can compare transparent offers. At TUI CARS you can amend or cancel your booking free of charge up to 24 hours before the pick-up date. That means you can book without risk.

Reserving a specific car model

It is not possible to guarantee a certain model. Your booking is always for a specific category or group of cars that are comparable in size, features and performance. To choose the category or group you prefer, first consider the number of people accompanying you and how much luggage you are all carrying.

Compare insurance cover and rental conditions

“Wow. That’s a really good price!”

At first glance some hire car deals appear to be temptingly cheap. However, as a rule appearance are deceptive. That is why you must: check the package of services and extras included in the price.

For instance:

  • What kinds of insurance cover are included?
  • What is the excess in the event of damage or an accident?
  • Are local taxes already included?
  • Is there an extra charge for filling the tank?
  • Is the mileage unlimited?
  • What are the costs that have to be paid at the local car rental office?
  • Do you have to pay to add another driver?

If you don’t check the above, you may well be in for an expensive surprise on holiday. You might have to pay for “extra” services and features when you pick up the car. Also, if you want to drop the car off in a different location, you should find out in advance what are the possible extra costs for a one-way rental. This way you can also calculate the realistic final price for hiring a car.

Price trap: tank/fuel policy

You can save money if you consider the fuel policy. Make sure you fully understand the fuel policy of the respective car rental firm. The most customer-friendly option is always the full-to-full fuel policy. This means you pick up the car with a full tank and then drop it off at the end with a full tank. That way you only pay for the fuel consumed on your trip – and you pay the normal fuel price as charged at commercial service and fuel stations.

Caution: Experience shows that the full-to-empty policy will cost you. In this case, when you pick up the car you pay for the first tank at the price quoted by the car rental office. As a rule these prices are higher than the normal service station prices, also because the rental firm also charges for the service of filling the tank. When you drop off the car you have to drop off the car with an empty tank. But who in reality is prepared to drive the last kilometres on an empty tank? As a rule when you drop off the car it will still have plenty of fuel in the tank.

2. Important points to consider before picking up a hire car abroad

Remember to have your original papers with you

Don’t forget that you will have present the original documents (driving licence and passport/ID card) when picking up the car. Without the originals you will not be able to pick up the car. You must present the following documents:

  1. Driving licence
  2. Official ID papers or passport
  3. Credit card for the deposit (important: the named driver must be the holder of the credit card. Prepaid cards are often not accepted)
  4. Car rental voucher

To ensure you haven’t forgotten anything, it is best to re-read the rental conditions before you start your journey. Outside Europe it is often necessary to present an International Driving Permit. So definitely find out in advance if this the case

Check the services and features included in the price

Before you sign a car rental agreement you should check to see that the same services and features included in the booking are also included in the agreement. Do all the details match those in the booking?

If you already chose a comprehensive service and features package when making the online booking, you have no need to consider many expensive extras when doing the paperwork to pick up the car. You can remind yourself of the services and extras already included in the booking by checking the details on the voucher. Additional costs may arise for extras, such as a child seat or Satnav device, you decide you need when at the local rental office. Other surcharges can arise, for instance, for adding another driver or deciding to drop off the car at another location. You can check the details of the costs in advance by taking a close look at the car rental conditions of the car rental firm.

Don’t forget: check the vehicle condition/inspection report sheet

You have signed the car rental agreement, have the keys in your hand and know the number of the parking bay, so you are raring to go. We advise you to have a good critical look at the car and make sure any obvious defects are clearly marked and documented in the pre-rental vehicle condition/inspection report sheet. If they are not marked, make sure they are entered and signed off by the clerk. Often there is no joint inspection – by you and the clerk -- of the vehicle where it is parked. So if you do spot an obvious defect, you should report it immediately.

Always carefully check the following points:

  • Is there any identifiable damage to tyres, paintwork, windscreen? 
  • Is the fuel gauge full? 
  • Do the brakes, lights and indicators as well as all seatbelts work?

3. Accidents in a hire car

What do you have to do?

Don’t panic. If you have an accident in the hire car, stay calm. First place warning triangles, then check all parties are fine. Then, if another party is involved, contact the local police. If the accident was harmless, the police will usually request you to drive to the nearest police station.

Make sure the local police issue a written accident report, as you will need this for processing the claim with the car rental company and the insurance. You must also notify the local car rental firm and request a signed accident report from them too. The car rental firm’s phone number is either on the voucher or the accompanying car rental documentation. To make sure you have the important numbers at hand, just in case, ask the local car rental office for the emergency call numbers and hotlines as well as their number. Always take clear photos of the scene of the accident and any damage or injury, and if necessary write up any important details.

Depending on the accident, the car rental firm will give you a replacement vehicle so you can continue your journey.

Who pays?

That depends on which insurance cover you chose when making the booking. At TUI CARS you don’t have to worry. You are comprehensively insured and can enjoy the rest of the trip. In the case of damage to the vehicle the car rental company will initially use the deposit to cover the personal excess, but rest assured, TUI CARS will refund the excess. After the trip simply send us the following documents:

  • Copy of the rental agreement
  • TUI CARS travel confirmation
  • Damage report and police report
  • Proof of payment (invoice or documented debit from your credit card)

to TUI CARS Customer Service (tuicars.kundenservice@tui.de) and we will refund the costs.

Please take good note that damage caused by gross negligence or non-compliance with the rental conditions is not refundable. Moreover, the loss of car keys or theft of items (camera, mobile phone etc.) from the hire car are not insured.

4. Dropping off the hire car – things to do

Dropping off the hire car at another car rental office/location

In many countries you can drop off the hire car at a different location to the pick-up location, often against a fee. Check the rental conditions for any costs. Any surcharges must be paid at the car rental office when you pick up the car.

At TUI CARS you can already see all available drop off locations on the booking view and select one. In most cases we clearly display the costs for one-way rental immediately before the booking. This is usually reflected in the total price if not specified separately in detail. In a few countries the fees differ, depending on the route and/or season. In that case it is not possibly to automatically display the price. In this case you should check the rental conditions or contact the TUI CARS Service hotline.

All bookings for a one-way rental are always on request and must first be confirmed by the local car rental company. Should you want to book a one-way rental, we advise you not to delay. You should make the booking at least 72 hours before the desired pick up date, as the confirmation from the car rental company may otherwise take too long and the booking request will have to be turned down.

Is it possible to drop off a hire car outside office hours?

Yes. Certain car rental offices allow you to pick up and/or drop off a hire car outside office hours. This can be checked in the rental conditions. Sometimes a surcharge is levied at the local rental office for out of hours pick up/drop off. These surcharges are payable at the local office.

How to avoid unnecessary extra costs when dropping off a hire car

To avoid paying extra costs you should not drop off the car later than the agreed drop off time. If you exceed the agreed time, extra charges may arise and will be docked from your credit card. Moreover, extra costs may arise if you don’t stick to the agreed fuel policy. If you chose the full-to-full option, you should drop off the car with a full tank.