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How picking the wrong car hire firm can cost you hundreds

James Connington
In Crete, hiring a vehicle from Europcar will cost you £588, compared with rival Hertz’s price of £376 - © 2015 Bloomberg Finance LP.

Holidaymakers who do not shop around before booking their car hire could find themselves paying hundreds of pounds more than they need, new data shows. 

A family heading to Crete in Greece this summer between July 27 and August 4 could pay more than £200 more by picking certain firms.

The research compares the cost of hiring a compact family car in the same week, excluding any added extras, such as a satellite navigation system, car seat or insurance add-ons. 

For a family heading to Nice, France, car hire firm Enterprise quoted £469 for the week, compared with Budget’s £276 – a £193 difference.

In Crete, Europcar quoted £588, compared with Hertz’s price of £376. In Barcelona, Spain, Avis quoted £460, compared with £293 from Sixt. 

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In Barcelona the difference between the most expensive and cheapest is £167, between Avis’ quote of £460 and Sixt’s of £293. Added extras can significantly inflate the cost of car hire.

For instance, adding damage excess cover, an extra driver, a sat nav system and a car seat to the Hertz booking in Crete would add £197 to the bill, taking it to £573. 

Adding the same items to the Europcar booking in Crete would add £218 to the bill, taking the overall price to £806. Damage excess cover was the most expensive add-on in both cases.

However, there was not one rental company that was cheaper in all locations. For instance, of six major providers checked, Europcar was the most expensive in Crete at £588, but the cheapest in Milan, Italy, at £297.

Similarly, Enterprise was the most expensive in Milan, but the cheapest in Faro, Portugal. 

Ernesto Suarez, the chief executive of iCarhireinsurance.com, which conducted the research, said: “Rental desk extras can dramatically increase the price, so make sure you check the prices of the extras you will need, and take items like a sat nav with you if possible.”