Rental cars in Europe

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
tj218
Posts: 403
Joined: Thu Dec 20, 2007 6:27 pm

Rental cars in Europe

Post by tj218 » Sun May 20, 2018 7:12 am

Our family has planned a trip to Europe this summer, with children and grandparents, 8 people going. We will need to rent two cars for a variety of reasons. I obviously know how to book a rental car, but I'm looking for a strategy to deal with the rental car companies after the last trip I took with my wife where the rental car company "ran out of cars" and tried to force us into a much more expensive car and we ended up with a dog. They really tried hard to upsell us on a high-end model but would have had to pay the difference. Since we pre-paid our reservation for a mid-size car I felt like they had our money and weren't going to honor the deal. After about an hour of back-forth with the counter and their managers they gave us a full size van (for two people) at the price we reserved. This was not ideal. We are looking to try to avoid a similar situation this time around.

My concerns:
1. For this trip we will need two rental cars AND we are dropping them at a different location (Pick-up in Munich, drop in Zurich). It's my understanding the practice of the rental companies is to lend out something they have in-stock that they want to get rid of in these situations. Hence the full size van we got stuck with last time.
2. Since we need two cars should we reserve one from company A and another from company B to reduce the likelihood of us getting stuck?
3. What legal rights do I have in the EU (Germany is the pick-up location) to argue at the counter to get something we reserved? Any language I can throw at them?
4. Should we avoid pre-paying the full amount to increase our walk power? Or do I have more power paying the full amount upfront when booking?

Any advice for navigating these companies would be appreciated.

MtS1979
Posts: 10
Joined: Mon Nov 16, 2015 1:34 pm

Re: Rental cars in Europe

Post by MtS1979 » Sun May 20, 2018 8:08 am

1. Pre-book the cars you want via the rental company website or their reservations line. The bigger rental companies will make sure that they have the wanted cars available in that case. An excuse like not having a car available is not valid, if the car is pre-booked. And if they do run out of cars, it is their problem, not yours. Never agree with a larger/more expensive car than booked, unless they offer it for the same or better price.

The people at the desk will try to upsell anything (GPS, insurance etc etc), but that is the way they are trained to make some extra money (think about commissions, promotions...) Bring your own GPS (google maps with offline maps works great ) and check your own travel insurance, maybe you're covered for damages to a rental car. And then again, most midsize sedans will already have GPS built-in.

2. At a larger airport such as Munich, I doubt they run out of cars. But to be safe, you can always book with two companies.

3. European countries have very strong consumer protection laws and the fine print on the rental contract is pretty clear on what is said and meant. However, don't sign anything unless you agree with the price and the terms.

4. Never pay upfront. You can always walk to a different rental company and there are plenty of rental companies in Munich.

TravelGeek
Posts: 1930
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2014 3:23 pm

Re: Rental cars in Europe

Post by TravelGeek » Sun May 20, 2018 11:00 am

I don’t know what company you had your bad experience with last time, but I have rented more than a dozen times with the majors (Hertz, Avis, Sixt) in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, and never had a problem getting the vehicle I had booked. At times I have gotten a nicer car. I don’t prepay.

One way rentals have not negatively impacted my experience, but all my one way rentals have been within one country.

I am also a member of the rental companies’ loyalty programs, so I generally don’t have to interact with any agent at a counter, I just walk to the vehicle stall indicated on a board with my name.

SrGrumpy
Posts: 698
Joined: Wed Aug 05, 2015 3:21 pm

Re: Rental cars in Europe

Post by SrGrumpy » Sun May 20, 2018 12:45 pm

tj218 wrote:
Sun May 20, 2018 7:12 am
the rental car company "ran out of cars" and tried to force us into a much more expensive car
This is really surprising, especially if you rent from a major at an airport. Which company was it?

My experience is almost as annoying though: they occasionally run out of small cars and give me a bigger car (for free) that I'd rather not have.

While I applaud diversification, I really don't see the point in renting from 2 companies.

setemupknockem
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2018 6:46 pm

Re: Rental cars in Europe

Post by setemupknockem » Sun May 20, 2018 12:49 pm

I rented in Italy a year ago. Went with Hertz didn't prepay and had a Audi A4 given to me. As long as it is one of the bigger companies you will be fine.

I was told I needed an International Driving Permit, which I went to AAA and got, to rent and drive in Europe. If I recall correctly no one asked for it, but they can potentially not rent to you if you don't have one. I believe you need it if you get pulled over also.

SrGrumpy
Posts: 698
Joined: Wed Aug 05, 2015 3:21 pm

Re: Rental cars in Europe

Post by SrGrumpy » Sun May 20, 2018 12:54 pm

setemupknockem wrote:
Sun May 20, 2018 12:49 pm
I was told I needed an International Driving Permit, which I went to AAA and got, to rent and drive in Europe. If I recall correctly no one asked for it, but they can potentially not rent to you if you don't have one. I believe you need it if you get pulled over also.
Local D/L is fine - I am driving in Europe now, and in Italy last year - but I guess one should check the fine print. IIRC, they usually seek an International Driving Permit when the foreign D/L is not in the Latin alphabet. (Sorry to get O/T)

stan1
Posts: 5561
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2007 4:35 pm

Re: Rental cars in Europe

Post by stan1 » Sun May 20, 2018 12:54 pm

I'm sure someone has had a problem with non-availability of cars at Hertz or Avis that wasn't solved quickly (the Internet is large and many people rent cars) -- but I have only had that problem with discount operations such as Alamo and Dollar. Also a late night pickup adds risk so I would avoid that. Make sure your pickup time is properly entered in the reservation. I'd book from the car rental companies website not a third party as another way to ensure accuracy. Cars with manual transmissions are still offered in Europe so if you want an automatic make sure that's what you reserve. Note that they consider a BMW 3 series sedan to be "full-size". Hopefully some of your party are light packers or you will need a van or large wagon for hauling capacity.

Munich is one of the most modern airports in Europe so I think you'll be fine but I'd stick with large operators such as Hertz, Avis, Sixt, or Europcar. I do not usually pre-pay and wouldn't do it to save a few bucks, but I've done it to save hundreds.

If offered a van instead of a sedan I usually say "no" and they have figured out how to solve the problem although a couple of times the offer was to wait an hour so I took the van. If I needed to get a van and they didn't have it I'd come back the next day to get it. I don't know how you can totally avoid that potential issue but picking up the car during daylight hours when they have staff to turnover returned cars helps.

tj218
Posts: 403
Joined: Thu Dec 20, 2007 6:27 pm

Re: Rental cars in Europe

Post by tj218 » Sun May 20, 2018 1:23 pm

Thanks for all the advice. Our previous poor experience was with Hertz. I can drive manual so that wasn't an issue (what I originally booked) but they basically told us it was either the van or a Range Rover for an extra $60/day. That and them almost refusing to let us leave the lot without buying their CDW (we used our AMEX card and were covered) they refused even our digital copy of the AMEX CDW coverage and demanded a paper version. I didn't back down and they finally let us leave without the up-selling but It left a very poor taste in our mouth.

I didn't think about joining the preferred clubs prior to doing the reservation though, maybe that will be worth a try.

oxothuk
Posts: 329
Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2011 8:35 pm

Re: Rental cars in Europe

Post by oxothuk » Sun May 20, 2018 3:35 pm

I've found that one-way rentals in Europe can be quite cheap if pickup/dropoff are within the same country. If you want to drop off in a different country, then it gets MUCH more expensive.

Rather than drop the car off in Zurich, it might be worthwhile for your two drivers to head back to Germany for drop-off at the end of the trip. Konstanz Germany is only 70km from Zurich and there is frequent train service between those cities.

User avatar
Watty
Posts: 13439
Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:55 pm

Re: Rental cars in Europe

Post by Watty » Sun May 20, 2018 4:00 pm

One thing to watch out for with two rental car reservations is that you should use different names. I they see two reservations for John Smith at the same time they may assume that you make a mistake and accidentally double booked cars.
SrGrumpy wrote:
Sun May 20, 2018 12:54 pm
setemupknockem wrote:
Sun May 20, 2018 12:49 pm
I was told I needed an International Driving Permit, which I went to AAA and got, to rent and drive in Europe. If I recall correctly no one asked for it, but they can potentially not rent to you if you don't have one. I believe you need it if you get pulled over also.
Local D/L is fine - I am driving in Europe now, and in Italy last year - but I guess one should check the fine print. IIRC, they usually seek an International Driving Permit when the foreign D/L is not in the Latin alphabet. (Sorry to get O/T)
I have always taken an International Driving Permit just in case I had a problem and was dealing with a police officer or rental car clerk that wanted to be picky. They only cost about $20 so there is little downside to taking one.

Lloydo
Posts: 36
Joined: Sat Jan 30, 2016 9:51 am

Re: Rental cars in Europe

Post by Lloydo » Sun May 20, 2018 4:02 pm

I have used rentalcars.com extensively in the US and EU and believe it's the easiest way to get the best rate. I never had to display an international drivers license and have rented successfully in England, Belgium, Germany, France and Italy. However last year I booked a car in Poland; my online booking (via rentalcars.com) said I'd need one. After avoiding risk a few times, I went to AAA and got one. Good move--there is no way the agent in Krakow would have given me the car without it!

Lloyd

Cheyenne
Posts: 369
Joined: Sun Jun 14, 2015 6:46 am

Re: Rental cars in Europe

Post by Cheyenne » Sun May 20, 2018 4:38 pm

We used gemut.com to help us rent a car in Germany last month. They are located in the U.S. (you can call them from Europe if there is a problem) and they know all the details. Highly recommended.

seawolf21
Posts: 218
Joined: Tue Aug 05, 2014 7:33 am

Re: Rental cars in Europe

Post by seawolf21 » Sun May 20, 2018 4:56 pm

Returning a car in a different country will cost a lot and push up the daily rate significantly. You are better off returning in same country and doing a one day rental out of country or consider taking a train out of country.

You just need to stand your ground if major companies are out of cars. They are obligated to put you in a higher class if booked vehicle is out. Pickup at airport instead of a small city location would minimize chance of no car but pickup at airport would carry a “premium location fee.” Hertz did run out on a automatic GPS vehicle reservation at train station one time. They paid for a cab to another Hertz location which had a vehicle available.

User avatar
JaneyLH
Posts: 362
Joined: Wed Oct 16, 2013 7:16 pm

Re: Rental cars in Europe

Post by JaneyLH » Sun May 20, 2018 11:54 pm

I have had the experience of showing up to a rental car company at Heathrow only to be told they had run out of the economy car I had booked for 3 weeks. I was offered am upgrade to a large SUV at the same price.

I refused because of the gas price and the difficulty parking such a large vehicle. I waited 2 hours for the car I had booked and was very glad I did after navigating many narrow single track roads in northern England and Scotland.

SrGrumpy
Posts: 698
Joined: Wed Aug 05, 2015 3:21 pm

Re: Rental cars in Europe

Post by SrGrumpy » Mon May 21, 2018 2:24 pm

JaneyLH wrote:
Sun May 20, 2018 11:54 pm
I have had the experience of showing up to a rental car company at Heathrow only to be told they had run out of the economy car I had booked for 3 weeks. I was offered am upgrade to a large SUV at the same price.

I refused because of the gas price and the difficulty parking such a large vehicle. I waited 2 hours for the car I had booked and was very glad I did after navigating many narrow single track roads in northern England and Scotland.
Good job on the refusal. I'd feel like an idiot driving an SUV in Europe, esp. England/Scotland.

WhiteMaxima
Posts: 1110
Joined: Thu May 19, 2016 5:04 pm

Re: Rental cars in Europe

Post by WhiteMaxima » Mon May 21, 2018 2:36 pm

Use CSR credit card to save your insurance cost. Small diesel vehicle for gas savings and easy to park.

Nearly A Moose
Posts: 843
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2016 5:28 pm

Re: Rental cars in Europe

Post by Nearly A Moose » Mon May 21, 2018 3:53 pm

tj218 wrote:
Sun May 20, 2018 1:23 pm
Thanks for all the advice. Our previous poor experience was with Hertz. I can drive manual so that wasn't an issue (what I originally booked) but they basically told us it was either the van or a Range Rover for an extra $60/day. That and them almost refusing to let us leave the lot without buying their CDW (we used our AMEX card and were covered) they refused even our digital copy of the AMEX CDW coverage and demanded a paper version. I didn't back down and they finally let us leave without the up-selling but It left a very poor taste in our mouth.

I didn't think about joining the preferred clubs prior to doing the reservation though, maybe that will be worth a try.
That's crazy. Have rented in Europe a few times without any of those problems. I've done Hertz and Europecar. Both have been totally fine, just like renting in the States. I rented an automatic (pricey proposition over there) and included a GPS unit in my reservation, so perhaps there was less opportunity for them to mess with me?
Pardon typos, I'm probably using my fat thumbs on a tiny phone.

Cheyenne
Posts: 369
Joined: Sun Jun 14, 2015 6:46 am

Re: Rental cars in Europe

Post by Cheyenne » Mon May 21, 2018 4:39 pm

I'd feel like an idiot driving an SUV in Europe, esp. England/Scotland.
No offense intended but personally I'd feel like one in the U.S.

seawolf21
Posts: 218
Joined: Tue Aug 05, 2014 7:33 am

Re: Rental cars in Europe

Post by seawolf21 » Mon May 21, 2018 8:40 pm

WhiteMaxima wrote:
Mon May 21, 2018 2:36 pm
Use CSR credit card to save your insurance cost. Small diesel vehicle for gas savings and easy to park.
It should be noted that any US-issued credit card offering car rental damage coverage would be primary coverage if drivers’ US personal auto insurance don’t cover outside US/Canada.

mxs
Posts: 403
Joined: Tue Mar 24, 2015 1:54 pm

Re: Rental cars in Europe

Post by mxs » Mon May 21, 2018 9:05 pm

Sorry if I missed a reason this would not work, but rental companies in Europe often have 9 passenger vans (3x3 seating) that realistically seat 8 comfortably. Mercedes, Renault, Opel, and other companies make them. If you can swing one vehicle, having only one driver is nice. I have only gone to Europe while in the military, so they provided the paperwork ie permit to make me legal to drive there. I suggest you look up the European interstate/road signs to understand what they mean and their associated speed limits. Speed limits are often implied with the road types but not necessarily posted. Also, pay attention to fuel pumps and what your vehicle needs. Diesel is more common there, and there is often 2 or 3 grades of gasoline and diesel available. Finally, stay out of the left lane unless you are passing, and when you do pass do it quickly. They take that seriously and on a good day only get annoyed if you don't follow that.

TravelGeek
Posts: 1930
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2014 3:23 pm

Re: Rental cars in Europe

Post by TravelGeek » Mon May 21, 2018 9:34 pm

SrGrumpy wrote:
Mon May 21, 2018 2:24 pm
I'd feel like an idiot driving an SUV in Europe, esp. England/Scotland.
Home of the Land Rover?
mxs wrote:
Mon May 21, 2018 9:05 pm
Sorry if I missed a reason this would not work, but rental companies in Europe often have 9 passenger vans (3x3 seating) that realistically seat 8 comfortably. Mercedes, Renault, Opel, and other companies make them. If you can swing one vehicle, having only one driver is nice.
I agree that that would be advantageous. Only concern might be storage for bags of 8 people. Plus, you can put stuff in the trunk of a sedan while touring and no one will know it's there, but a van loaded with bags could be a pretty nice target for break-ins.

mxs
Posts: 403
Joined: Tue Mar 24, 2015 1:54 pm

Re: Rental cars in Europe

Post by mxs » Mon May 21, 2018 9:47 pm

True. Some of the vans have a shelf in the back that acts as a cover for the lower half of the storage in the back. Depending on amount of luggage, it may be enough for 8. One more thing, download offline Google Maps for where you are going so you can have driving directions and maps even without cell phone signal.

WhiteMaxima
Posts: 1110
Joined: Thu May 19, 2016 5:04 pm

Re: Rental cars in Europe

Post by WhiteMaxima » Tue May 22, 2018 11:11 am

European street is very narrow. A car is sometimes very difficult to navigate. I found train travel is much less stress and get you to city cenetr. Parking is very expensive in Europe. Leave personal things inside van, it is unsafe in many popular places.

tj218
Posts: 403
Joined: Thu Dec 20, 2007 6:27 pm

Re: Rental cars in Europe

Post by tj218 » Tue May 22, 2018 6:04 pm

We need two cars, because we have some days planned where some of the family goes to a destination and the other half elected to do something else.

bi0hazard
Posts: 72
Joined: Mon Mar 14, 2016 10:36 pm

Re: Rental cars in Europe

Post by bi0hazard » Tue May 22, 2018 7:57 pm

Can someone confirm whether International driver permit is really needed. Going to a bunch of countries in Europe this summer, and Dollar (my rental co) said I don;t need it if I have a US license.

TravelGeek
Posts: 1930
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2014 3:23 pm

Re: Rental cars in Europe

Post by TravelGeek » Tue May 22, 2018 9:08 pm

Depends on the countries you are visiting (because cops there will apply local laws, not what Dollar told you) and the country where you are renting the car.

“You may hear contradictory information on exactly where you need an IDP. People who sell them say you should have them almost everywhere. People who rent cars say you need them almost nowhere. People who drive rental cars say the IDP is overrated, but can come in handy as a complement to your passport and driver's license. It's a good idea to get one if you'll be driving in Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, or Spain — countries where you're technically required to carry a permit. If all goes well, you'll likely never be asked to show it — but the permit is a must if you end up dealing with the police. That said, I've never been asked to show one.”

https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/ ... quirements

“It is illegal to drive without a valid license and insurance in most countries. You should check with the embassy of the country you plan to visit or live in to find specific driver's license requirements. Many countries do not recognize a U.S. driver's license, but most accept an International Driving Permit (IDP). IDPs may not be valid the whole time you stay abroad and may only be valid with a U.S. or local license.”

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel ... afety.html

bi0hazard
Posts: 72
Joined: Mon Mar 14, 2016 10:36 pm

Re: Rental cars in Europe

Post by bi0hazard » Tue May 22, 2018 9:28 pm

Thanks TravelGeek. Very helpful

TrustButVerifying
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Jan 15, 2018 11:16 am

Re: Rental cars in Europe

Post by TrustButVerifying » Wed May 23, 2018 2:17 pm

Looks like you are getting plenty of good input to your questions. I just wanted to relate my experience as a cautionary tale.

We rented a car from Avis in Avignon and when we returned the car, the rental office was closed. We knew this would happen so after parking the rental in their lot, we dropped the keys into their secure key drop box. What we didn't expect was a $800 bill for supposed damage to the car. Fortunately, we had taken pictures of the car and timestamp of the parking lot ticket when we dropped it off. We disputed the charge with our credit card company and they suspended that charge. We sent the evidence to Avis (USA) but apparently Avis (France) is a different entity and they turned out to be unresponsive when I requested proof of damage. I finally kicked the issue back to our credit card company along with my evidence. After 6 months of back and forth, the credit card company wiped out the charge.

autolycus
Posts: 151
Joined: Thu Jul 31, 2014 3:01 pm

Re: Rental cars in Europe

Post by autolycus » Wed May 23, 2018 3:19 pm

TrustButVerifying wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 2:17 pm
Looks like you are getting plenty of good input to your questions. I just wanted to relate my experience as a cautionary tale.

We rented a car from Avis in Avignon and when we returned the car, the rental office was closed. We knew this would happen so after parking the rental in their lot, we dropped the keys into their secure key drop box. What we didn't expect was a $800 bill for supposed damage to the car. Fortunately, we had taken pictures of the car and timestamp of the parking lot ticket when we dropped it off. We disputed the charge with our credit card company and they suspended that charge. We sent the evidence to Avis (USA) but apparently Avis (France) is a different entity and they turned out to be unresponsive when I requested proof of damage. I finally kicked the issue back to our credit card company along with my evidence. After 6 months of back and forth, the credit card company wiped out the charge.
This is a very good reminder why it is helpful/important to use a credit card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred (or Reserve) that includes good primary coverage for damage to rental cars. I had a slightly-less-egregious situation when dropping off a Hertz car in Frankfurt, but I was very thankful I could just submit the paperwork to my CC's benefit admin and be done with it.

The Hertz dropoff stand was open, so I knew I was going to be hit with nasty charges, but there was nothing I could really do to dispute whether the damage was my responsibility. The woman actually ran her fingers along each wheel to feel for even the slightest scratches that weren't even visible. She found some on a passenger-side wheel. You could barely see them even knowing they were there. I never hit a curb, had not parked anywhere that could have damaged the wheel, etc. Unfortunately when I had picked the car up, I had not thought that I needed to do something so extreme as to run my finger along every inch of every wheel...

Anyway, the moral is this: In much of Europe they often do much more rigorous inspections of the vehicle at drop-off than we are used to in the US, and they do not do nearly such rigorous inspections when you pick the car up. Even the slightest bit of normal wear-and-tear might be deemed damage and your responsibility.

TravelGeek
Posts: 1930
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2014 3:23 pm

Re: Rental cars in Europe

Post by TravelGeek » Wed May 23, 2018 4:08 pm

autolycus wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 3:19 pm
This is a very good reminder why it is helpful/important to use a credit card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred (or Reserve) that includes good primary coverage for damage to rental cars. I had a slightly-less-egregious situation when dropping off a Hertz car in Frankfurt, but I was very thankful I could just submit the paperwork to my CC's benefit admin and be done with it.
Unless you have other insurance, any credit card coverage turns into primary. In US domestic rentals for most people the personal automobile insurance is primary, but that generally doesn't cover international rentals. I have the CSR for primary coverage in the US.
Anyway, the moral is this: In much of Europe they often do much more rigorous inspections of the vehicle at drop-off than we are used to in the US, and they do not do nearly such rigorous inspections when you pick the car up. Even the slightest bit of normal wear-and-tear might be deemed damage and your responsibility.
This is very true, and I make it a point to thoroughly review the rental car. I also walk around the vehicle with my smartphone recording a video. I point out any scratch and ding as I walk around. I make sure the surrounding area is shown, so the video proves that it was taken at the pickup location.

One time (with Avis) I had an eager return agent trying to blame me for a ding. I said "sure, I don't have time to argue now, so write it up. I will now take a quick photo and submit that together with the video/photo of of the vehicle at pickup time for my dispute". Suddenly it wasn't an issue worth reporting anymore :)

seawolf21
Posts: 218
Joined: Tue Aug 05, 2014 7:33 am

Re: Rental cars in Europe

Post by seawolf21 » Thu May 24, 2018 7:30 am

TrustButVerifying wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 2:17 pm
Looks like you are getting plenty of good input to your questions. I just wanted to relate my experience as a cautionary tale.

We rented a car from Avis in Avignon and when we returned the car, the rental office was closed. We knew this would happen so after parking the rental in their lot, we dropped the keys into their secure key drop box. What we didn't expect was a $800 bill for supposed damage to the car. Fortunately, we had taken pictures of the car and timestamp of the parking lot ticket when we dropped it off. We disputed the charge with our credit card company and they suspended that charge. We sent the evidence to Avis (USA) but apparently Avis (France) is a different entity and they turned out to be unresponsive when I requested proof of damage. I finally kicked the issue back to our credit card company along with my evidence. After 6 months of back and forth, the credit card company wiped out the charge.
Pictures are not too useful in situations like this as renter is STILL responsible for the vehicle during after hours drop off until the vehicle is checked in during business hours. So if renter dropped off the vehicle at Friday 7PM and the location doesn't open until Monday 8AM, and the vehicle is vandalize or stolen during the weekend, the renter is responsible.

Credit card wiping the charge does not mean the debt is wiped unless Avis France decided to drop the matter completely. If Avis France did not drop the matter, then there is a chance you are on the Do Not Rent list in Avis France and even Avis worldwide.
TravelGeek wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 4:08 pm
Unless you have other insurance, any credit card coverage turns into primary. In US domestic rentals for most people the personal automobile insurance is primary, but that generally doesn't cover international rentals. I have the CSR for primary coverage in the US.
Agreed that CSR is NOT required for international rental for primary coverage. Any US-issued card offering coverage is primary unless renter's US personal auto coverage includes coverage outside US/Canada; which would be rare.

criticalmass
Posts: 352
Joined: Wed Feb 12, 2014 10:58 pm

Re: Rental cars in Europe

Post by criticalmass » Thu May 24, 2018 7:50 am

bi0hazard wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 7:57 pm
Can someone confirm whether International driver permit is really needed. Going to a bunch of countries in Europe this summer, and Dollar (my rental co) said I don;t need it if I have a US license.
It depends on the nation. Many nations like France do not require an International Driving Permit. Italy certainly does. The rental car folks aren’t responsible to make sure you have an IDP, and most won’t care. But God help you if you get pulled over without one where it is required. It’s only $15 or $20, plus a photo. (See previous thread on making your own passport photos for a quarter dollar or less).

criticalmass
Posts: 352
Joined: Wed Feb 12, 2014 10:58 pm

Re: Rental cars in Europe

Post by criticalmass » Thu May 24, 2018 7:58 am

WhiteMaxima wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 11:11 am
European street is very narrow. A car is sometimes very difficult to navigate. I found train travel is much less stress and get you to city cenetr. Parking is very expensive in Europe. Leave personal things inside van, it is unsafe in many popular places.
There is no “European street” or standard size. Some streets are narrow (usually in old towns). Some streets can be quite wide. Trucks and large vehicle drivers tend to avoid the really narrow streets, just like in USA.

Remember to take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with EU signage and road markings. Remember yellow paint is not frequently used in Europe (except special cases like construction), so be aware if your street is one way or two way traffic. In general the signage and markings are excellent so you’ll have no problems if you know what they mean. E.g. The yellow diamond priority sign is important and has no USA equivalent.

TrustButVerifying
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Jan 15, 2018 11:16 am

Re: Rental cars in Europe

Post by TrustButVerifying » Thu May 24, 2018 12:46 pm

seawolf21 wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 7:30 am
TrustButVerifying wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 2:17 pm
Looks like you are getting plenty of good input to your questions. I just wanted to relate my experience as a cautionary tale.

We rented a car from Avis in Avignon and when we returned the car, the rental office was closed. We knew this would happen so after parking the rental in their lot, we dropped the keys into their secure key drop box. What we didn't expect was a $800 bill for supposed damage to the car. Fortunately, we had taken pictures of the car and timestamp of the parking lot ticket when we dropped it off. We disputed the charge with our credit card company and they suspended that charge. We sent the evidence to Avis (USA) but apparently Avis (France) is a different entity and they turned out to be unresponsive when I requested proof of damage. I finally kicked the issue back to our credit card company along with my evidence. After 6 months of back and forth, the credit card company wiped out the charge.
Pictures are not too useful in situations like this as renter is STILL responsible for the vehicle during after hours drop off until the vehicle is checked in during business hours. So if renter dropped off the vehicle at Friday 7PM and the location doesn't open until Monday 8AM, and the vehicle is vandalize or stolen during the weekend, the renter is responsible.

Credit card wiping the charge does not mean the debt is wiped unless Avis France decided to drop the matter completely. If Avis France did not drop the matter, then there is a chance you are on the Do Not Rent list in Avis France and even Avis worldwide.
Interesting. For the record, we dropped the car off around 9:00 am and the Rental Office opened at Noon so the opportunity for vandalism was 3 hours on a Sunday morning. If the Rental Agency had given me the explanation that you did AND also provided me with some proof, i would probably have paid. The fact that Avis France stonewalled me leads me to believe that fraud was being committed.

In any case, lessons learned are 1) Rent with a good credit card, 2) If at all possible, don't drop off a rental at an unattended Rental Site.

Post Reply