Renting a car and driving around outside your home country can be scary sometimes. What are their rules? How much should you spend on insurance? Which car rental should you pick? and SO MUCH MORE.
It was 2019 when I went to the United Kingdom and I must admit, it was the most anxious trip I ever planned because it involves renting a car with no driver. This is one of the reasonable and cheapest ways of exploring the country if you are traveling in a group of 4 and more. In this post, I will pour out everything that I remember about renting a car in the United Kingdom. So, let’s start!
The FIRST STEP is to do your budget estimation.
It is always cheaper when sharing a car for FOUR and people carriers for SEVEN as you can maximize the value and capacity of the car/MPV. A standard compact car for FOUR can cost between 20 to 50 pounds a day depends on your car preferences. While as for standard people carrier, cost between 40 to 150 pounds. The cheapest one is a compact car. So, if the car rental cost you 20 pounds/day, you can divide it with 4 people which will be 5 pounds a day per person (less than RM30 per day). It is cheaper than sharing for two. Now, the price is not inclusive of GPS, baby seats, insurance, deposits, etc. I will explain it to you further on the next steps.
The SECOND STEP is to check the cheapest date available.
Be alert with the local’s festivals and events. Especially during big celebrations like Christmas or during the summer holiday season. When I was studying this, November was one of the cheapest ones for the year-end vacation. So, I decided to choose the dates in November in line with the cheapest airplane return tickets that I can get. And of course, it was just enough time to save some cash for the trip.
The THIRD STEP is to pick the right car rental platform.
Well, this is the most tricky part. When I was searching for the cheapest car rental, the big ones such as AVIS, SIXT, HERTZ, and EUROCAR had similar offer price except for SIXT. During the time, SIXT offered 20 pounds a day lower than the others. So, I saved my search and plan to book 3 months before the arrival date (during the time of the search, it was 6 months before). Little that I know the prices changed for the next 3 months. It was above my budget that was only up to RM4000 for 7 days rental. Luckily, someone recommended a local car rental company called www.expressrentacar.co.uk that offered 400 pounds a week inclusive of basic insurance coverage. It was quite doubtful at first because they did not send me a copy of the full insurance details. However, one of my friends had used their car rental before, so it kinda relief me from my worries especially about the scammers.
The FOURTH step is to prepare the documentation for the car rental.
Every car rental company will usually have different requirements before the booking but the basics are:
1) Copy of license
The expiry date needs to be at least a year after the arrival date just to be safe. For Malaysians, you can still use your local license without an international license. Please keep a copy of your old license as some companies may require you to prove that your driving experience is more than 2 years. Your original license must be shown upon car collection
2) Credit card details
Please prepare a credit card that has a minimum of RM10,000 credit limit as the total basic amount inclusive of the deposit, insurance, and unlimited mileage can cost around RM7000 +/- per rental. Most of the car rentals companies only accept credit card payments. The same credit card must be presented upon collection.
3) Passport details
Some companies will not require your passport copies but some may need it. But they will usually ask you to just fill up the details on their site and show the passport later upon picking up the car. Please make sure to book using the same name as the credit card owner as different names can trigger the second driver charges. If you will be having two drivers anyway, then go ahead and pay for the extra charges. It should be between 10 – 50 pounds +/- depends on your booked car (based on 2019 price).
4) Other details
Some may require you to provide them a copy of your electricity bills to match with your credit card but some may not. For expressrentacar, they requested the copy. Please keep all the reservation details, copy of the insurance (if any) and the name of the person that you liaise with as this may help you with any unforeseen issues.
The FIFTH step is to confirm your booking and keep an eye to your credit card account to see the charges.
I had experienced some unknown transactions from a different party when I was in the United Kingdom and I only realized it after I landed back to my hometown, Malaysia. Please be aware, when you are providing your credit card details to a third party, there will be a chance for a hacker to get your details and use it for their benefits. Once your booking is confirmed, please get the confirmation details such as your receipt, reservation numbers, your car rental details (if you rented a 4 seater Hyundai compact car, make sure it’s written there, make sure it is correct) and the pick-up location. An efficient car rental will not take you more than 10 minutes to get your car unless there is an issue. Sometimes, if you are lucky, you can even get an upgrade, from Hyundai to Volkswagen for example.
The SIX steps are to obey the rules.
Most of the rules are similar to Malaysia’s driving rules. The difference is that penalty costs can be high due to currency differences. Let me give you a simple list of concerns when driving there:
1) The parking.
Most parking needs to be pay at the machine but some would require you to pay through an app. Please ask the locals for detailed instructions. Usually, the coins’ machine parking spot will be cheaper than a parking lot using tickets. An hour can be as cheap as less than 50 pence. Some parking spots can be free if you parked above 5.00 p.m. Parking per night can cost between 10 to 30 pounds depending on your hours and locations. Don’t forget to display your parking ticket properly to avoid any penalty. I was charged about 15 pounds when the parking ticket was flipped on the other side (sigh).
2) Congestion charges.
Please note there will be a congestion charge in London city from Monday to Friday except for weekends and public holidays. The entrance after 6.00 p.m on weekdays is free. You can learn about all the payments HERE.
3) Speed limit.
On the highway, there will be a lot of cameras so please obey the speed limits. Your deposits will be charged if you get the penalties.
4) Petrol/ Diesel.
Please note if you are going somewhere outskirts, keep your tank fuel as there will be fewer petrol pumps available. For the car that I rent, which was the 9-seater Mercedez Vito, petrol can cost between 50 to 80 pounds per day depends on your fuel usage. London to Scotland cost me about 80 pounds less one-way (diesel).
5) CO2 emission.
If you are using diesel cars, you would need to refill some liquid (which usually be beside your diesel tank) to reduce co2 emissions. I remember the brand I used was AdBlue about 5 pounds per bottle. For more details, please ask your car rental company.
The LAST step is to make sure to follow up with the deposits that they are holding.
In my case, I did not return the car in peace as there were scratches at the body part of the car and it was THE MERCEDES VITO. So my deposit of 1000 pounds was charged for 925 pounds for the cost of the damages. It will usually take no longer than 3 months to get your money back or to be charged for the damages. The bigger the damages, the longer it will take. In my case, it only takes a week.
If you have any additional tips to share, feel free to leave a comment as your knowledge sharing can help people in exploring the United Kingdom. I will be writing about my trip to the United Kingdom soon! Stay tuned for more!