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How to find cheap rental cars for your vacation in Germany

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More and more Expats in Germany are opting for rental cars when it comes to travelling around Germany for siteseeing and vacation. Find out how to find cheap rental cars in Germany below.

A rental car offers travelers the opportunity to get to know the holiday destination flexibly and independently. In order to save costs, however, different providers should first be compared. Various comparison portals are available to searchers on the Internet – but there are a few things that should be taken into account.

rental cars

Checklist: How to find a cheap rental car

Whether for a business meeting, short trip or vacation: rental vehicles have established themselves as popular means of transport around the world. Depending on the provider, however, travelers expect completely different rental prices. In order to find a favorable offer, the following checklist should be heeded:

  • Book as early as possible
    During the school holidays in particular, rental vehicles are often rare. Therefore, a lead time of at least six months should be considered. However, an early search is also useful at other travel times. Offers are often cheaper and there are enough popular vehicles available.
  • Compare offers and conditions
    Even if you can no longer wait for the trip: You shouldn’t rent the first car you come across. The comparison often shows which offers are really attractive. Portals on the Internet list a wide variety of providers and therefore often have an extensive range.
  • Bring your own extra equipment Before booking, you should find out whether and which extra equipment can be booked. Depending on the price, it can be worthwhile to bring your own equipment.

The extra equipment includes

  • Navigation systems
  • Child seats
  • bike rack
  • Snow chains
  • WiFi router
  • Include and compare
    travel packages Many tour operators offer packages that include accommodation and flights as well as a rental car. Here you should be able to break down exactly how much is charged for this vehicle and compare whether the separate booking would be cheaper.
  • Use filter option
    Most online car rental companies allow a filtered search. In this way, you will only receive a list of offers that meet your requirements. For example, the following criteria can be used to filter:
    • Vehicle type and class
    • Deductible in the event of a claim
    • Mileage limit
    • Fuel regulation
    • Possibility of one-way rentals
  • Carefully read and check
    the rental agreement Before signing the rental agreement, you should definitely take the time to read it carefully . Here you not only have to check the price and rental period, but also whether all the options you want, such as insurance, are included.
  • Check special regulations abroad
    The regulations for vehicle rental vary from country to country. This concerns, for example, the required minimum age or the method of payment. This should therefore be requested from the respective provider in advance.
  • Choosing a rental station carefully
    Of course, the idea of ​​picking up the rental car right after the flight is tempting. Often, however, the airport stations are particularly popular and are therefore associated with higher costs. Stations in the vicinity could then be the better alternative.
  • Check alternatives
    Depending on your travel plans, it is advisable to think about alternatives such as bus, flight or train. Depending on the route, this can be cheaper. In addition, it should be considered whether using one’s own vehicle is also an option.

Book a rental car: Here’s how

The accommodation is booked, the route planned. All that’s left to do is find the right rental car – but how does it even work? The most important questions about booking are answered below.

rental cars

Where should I book a rental car?

If you are looking for a suitable rental car, you can choose between a wide variety of providers. These essentially include:

  • Travel agencies
  • Direct provider
  • Rental car broker
  • Comparison portals

Rental car brokers such as DriveFTI mediate the vehicles from direct providers such as Avis or Hertz – the selection is therefore usually larger. It is always advisable to use a free comparison portal. Both direct suppliers and intermediaries are included here, giving a comprehensive overview of the cheapest vehicles.

Some travel agencies also offer their customers the option of booking the rental car. These, in turn, usually book the vehicle with direct providers, but add their own flat-rate fee. Booking your own is therefore usually cheaper.

Book at home or on site?

Rental cars are particularly popular at popular travel times. It is therefore advisable to book early from home. If you only take care of it on site, there is a risk that no vehicles or only unsuitable vehicles will be available – and that too high rental prices.

Everything that goes with a rental car

In Germany, providers are required by law to equip their rental cars with certain items as standard. These include, for example:

  • First aid kit
  • Warning triangle
  • Safety vest

In addition, the legislature also prescribes other equipment, which, however, does not necessarily belong to the standard equipment of the rental car:

  • Child seats: Child seats are compulsory for all children under the age of twelve or under 150 centimeters.
  • Winter tires: In Germany there is a situational obligation for winter tires – that is, they are compulsory in snow or slippery conditions. This equipment should also be booked in the winter months.

In addition to this mandatory equipment, additional extras can usually be booked. These should make the journey more pleasant, such as:

  • GPS navigation
  • Mobile internet router
  • bike rack

Check payment options

A credit card is the most common method of payment for booking a rental car. As a result, it is also accepted by all providers. Payment by EC card is also possible with many providers. Usually there are different times to choose from:

  1. Payment before collection
  2. Payment upon return
  3. Combined payment – pro rata for collection and return

Prepayment is financially worthwhile

It is an advantage for the car rental company if you pay before the pick-up. That is why a discount is often given for this, with which you can easily save costs.

How much is the deposit for a rental car?

The deposit usually starts at around 300 euros – but there is plenty of room for improvement. After all, it depends on several factors, such as:

  • Car rental company
  • Travel destination
  • Vehicle class
  • Deductible

Above all, the amount of the deductible in the event of an insurance claim is decisive. If you have agreed on a corresponding participation, this is usually covered by the deposit. In this way, the car rental company secures himself so as not to be left with the costs in the event of a claim.

Deposit by credit card only

If you do not have a credit card, you should urgently apply for one before booking. This will then be charged to the amount of the agreed deposit after the car has been collected. Another method of depositing the deposit is very rarely possible.

What is a rental car upgrade?

The rental car upgrade describes the lucky circumstance of receiving a better rental car class at no additional cost. The banal reason: vehicles in the booked class are simply fully booked. However, some providers also grant regular customers such an upgrade – as a thank you, so to speak, for the loyalty they have shown.

Such a cheap rental price possible for a rental car?

As soon as you ask yourself this question, you should take a closer look at the provider. You should exercise caution, especially if the rental price is much cheaper than the competition. You can recognize a reputable provider by the following characteristics:

  1. The provider website includes an extensive imprint with information such as address, contact person and legal form
  2. General terms and conditions can be viewed and provide information about costs and cancellation options
  3. With online providers, the payment page is SSL-encrypted – this can be recognized, among other things, by a small lock in the browser bar.
  4. The pricing is transparent and clearly visible in the contract
  5. With international providers abroad, contracts are issued in several languages , and in any case also in English.

In addition, it can also be worthwhile to simply type the name of the provider into common search engines – some news portals may have already reported on dubious providers.

How can I book a specific rental car model?

Most providers do not allow you to book a specific vehicle – but you can book a specific class. In most cases, at least the following can be selected, albeit often with different names:

  • Compact class
  • Family class
  • Upper class
  • Luxury class

In most cases, you can also choose between different vehicle types. The following types are common:

  • Off-road vehicle / SUV
  • Convertibles
  • Sports car
  • Combinations

A certain class or a certain type then comprises roughly equivalent rental cars of different brands. If you still want to rent a specific car, it is worth contacting the provider and expressing your request.

When should I book a rental car?

In general, it is best to book as early as possible. This increases the chance that the desired vehicle class will be available. A lead time of a few months is strongly recommended, especially during the holidays and at rental stations in popular vacation spots. If you want to book at short notice, you sometimes have to plan a longer search.

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Well-known rental car comparison portals

Good comparison portals include offers from direct suppliers as well as from rental car brokers such as Europcar. The desired location can usually be typed in here. Within seconds, users then receive a list of the most diverse offers – usually starting with the cheapest.

It is often possible to book the desired rental car much cheaper than with direct providers. The best-known comparison portals include:

  • Measured by the number of bookings, Billiger-mietwagen.de can call itself the largest and most popular price comparison for rental cars in Germany.
  • Autovermietung24.de offers customers an extensive network of over 30,000 rental stations in more than 130 countries around the world.
  • Car rental-check.de is also one of the popular comparison portals in Germany and convinces with well-known car rental companies as partners.

Check rental agreement

Before signing the rental agreement, all points of the contract should be read carefully. Observe the following checklist to ensure that no important details are overlooked.

1. Age restriction

The minimum age for driving a rental car depends entirely on the provider. As a rule, it is 21 years – depending on the provider, it can also be 18, 25 or 27 years.

The driving experience of at least one year, which is expected from some providers, must also be taken into account. Before you sign the contract, you should definitely check whether you meet the requirements.

2. Driver and Passenger

The name of the driver is usually mentioned explicitly in the rental agreement. If you want to take turns with one of your fellow travelers during the journey, this must also be noted in the contract. It is therefore essential to check this point – otherwise difficulties could arise in the event of an insurance claim.

3. Mileage limit

Nowadays, rental cars with unlimited mileage are the rule. This is especially true for Europe and also the USA. In Canada, on the other hand, some national providers do limit the number of kilometers you can travel per day. Each additional kilometer then costs a surcharge – how much this is depends on the vehicle class, for example. Especially if you have planned long round trips, you should pay special attention to this point in the rental agreement.

4. Insurance coverage

Insurance cover is also one of the most important aspects of a rental contract, which you should definitely check for accuracy. This protects you against the costs that can arise in the event of accidents or mishaps.

The most common insurance packages include liability, fully comprehensive and theft insurance. You should clarify beforehand whether these are already included in the rental price or have to be booked separately and also check in the contract.

5. Fuel regulation

As a rule, there are usually various tank regulations to choose from. Which one you choose should be recorded in the contract in any case.

  1. Full / full : The car is handed over full and then you refuel before handing it in. So you only pay for what you have actually used and you can also choose the petrol station yourself. This is precisely why this option is strongly recommended.
  2. Full / empty : The first tank of fuel is bought directly from the provider and the car is handed over empty when it is returned – or with the remaining tank, for which the lessor does not reimburse any costs.
rental cars

This is how you recognize inadmissible clauses

Inadmissible clauses are formulations in contracts that unreasonably disadvantage the tenant. They often come to light in the course of a product test or because an angry customer goes to court.

This is also the case with the following clause, which was declared inadmissible in 2015: “In the event of cancellation within 48 hours before the start of the rental period, the rental price can no longer be refunded”

The verdict here was: The compensation claimed in the event of cancellation is unreasonably high. After all, the lessor does not incur any direct costs in the amount of the entire rental price due to the cancellation. In addition, the car can also be rented elsewhere at short notice.

Ask the consumer advice center or lawyer for advice

Did you incur additional costs in renting a car that seemed unreasonably high? Then it is worth contacting the consumer advice center or a lawyer. They can give you advice and check whether there is an inadmissible clause.

This is how the cancellation works

If the travel plan changes at short notice, the rental car should be canceled as early as possible. Most providers can even do this free of charge up to 24 or 48 hours before the start of the rental period.

After this period, fees are usually due. Then either a certain portion of the rental price or a cancellation fee must be paid. You can usually cancel by:

  • Hotline
  • e-mail
  • In person in the branch

Wait for the cancellation confirmation!

To be on the safe side that the rental car has actually been canceled, you should wait for the cancellation confirmation. Otherwise the provider should be contacted again.

Accident, theft, break-in: how to proceed!

If an accident happens or a burglar steals the car radio, it doesn’t just ruin the holiday mood. High claims for damages can also be made against you. If you want to protect yourself optimally against all these scenarios, you should book the following three policies:

  1. Liability insurance
    This policy applies if you cause personal injury or damage to third party property with the rental car. For example, when someone else’s car is rammed while pulling out of a parking space. In most countries, this protection is mandatory in the rental price.
  2. Fully comprehensive insurance
    Damage that you culpably caused to your own rental car is covered by this policy. A distinction is usually made here between variants with or without a deductible. The latter are initially more expensive, but you will not incur any additional costs in the event of a claim.
  3. Theft
    insurance If the rental car or fixed parts of the car are stolen, this insurance covers you. In contrast to loose items such as your own handbag that was stolen from the car – the policy does not apply here.

What steps do I have to take after an accident or theft?

Anyone involved in an accident or theft with their rental car should take the following steps:

  1. Protecting the accident site
    Regardless of whether the accident happens abroad or here in Germany: safety has the highest priority. Therefore, of course, the scene of the accident should first be secured and, if necessary, the rescue service should be alerted.
  2. Police communicate
    even in minor accidents, the police should be notified. If they do not go to the scene of the accident because of insignificant damage, you should go to the nearest police station. Car rental companies often require in their terms and conditions that the police be notified in any case – even if the damage is minor. Finally, you need a police accident report, which is important for insurance matters.
  3. Inform the car rental company
    Now you should contact the car rental company. They can get you a replacement car in an emergency. Make sure you also have a damage report drawn up in this case. After all, when it comes to assuming the costs, it is always an advantage to have all the steps documented.

Frequently asked questions about rental cars in Germany

Travelers expect limitless freedom on vacation from a rental car. So that you can really enjoy it without getting into trouble with the car rental company, you should pay attention to a few things when using it.

 Are border crossings possible?

Spontaneous crossings to the next country are not easily possible. 
After all, the car rental company must allow this so that you can continue to enjoy insurance cover. 

Unfortunately, there is no uniform regulation – after all, it depends on many factors:
• Car rental company
• Car brand
• Country of entry
• Country of departure

Can I use ferries with the rental car?

In most cases, there is no insurance cover for rental cars on ferries. 
Therefore, you should consider carefully whether you still want to go on a ferry. 

Some car rental companies even explicitly forbid this. Then it makes sense to park the car at the ferry location and use other means of transport.

Is there a maximum rental period?

Rental cars can often be booked for a maximum of 28 to 30 days. 
After that, however, many providers offer so-called long-term rentals. 
Here, the daily payment is usually converted to a monthly one. 
The limit here is 12 to 24 months, depending on the car rental company. 
If you need a car for an even longer period of time, you should think about leasing it.

What should I do if I have technical problems?

Whether it’s a flat battery or a punctured tire: If you break down while traveling, you shouldn’t let your holiday mood spoil. 
You will usually find the number of the emergency service of the respective car rental company in your rental or vehicle documents. 
They will usually send a breakdown service over to you.

Tax deductible rental car

  1. Fuel
    The fuel for a rental car can only be deducted from tax if the car is used for business purposes. For example, when it is used to drive to work. The normal flat rate for commuting to work then applies here (Section 9 (2) sentence 1 EStG). Around 0.30 euros can be claimed per kilometer driven, but a maximum of around 4,500 euros per year.

  2. Rental costs The rental costs for a rental car are usually not tax-deductible. There is an exception if an accident happens on the way to work. Then the costs for a reasonable rental car can be claimed.
  3. Accident costs
    If an accident causes damage to a rental car on the way to work, these costs are also tax-deductible. The prerequisite, however, is that you, and not the insurance company or employer, paid the costs.
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Expaturm aims to help educate Expats in Germany on key issues that they will have to deal with while living in Germany by providing everything you need to know about Banking, Healthcare, Lifestyle, and Housing in Germany
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