Booking a rental car for your vacation is quick and easy. With new offers, customers are better protected in the event of a claim. stiftung warentest experts explain what’s important when booking through online portals and how to protect yourself from pitfalls.
Take your time for a comparison
Not only sun, beach and sea, but also getting to know the country and its people – this is the wish of many holidaymakers. A rental car is your first choice. you can book the car quickly and easily from home. To avoid hassle, customers should take a little time to compare offers beforehand. Rental car comparison portals such as check24 are recommended for this purpose.De, cheap car hire.De or rental car check.De. advantage of the portals: they keep the rental conditions of foreign rental companies ready in german. In addition, the calculators are easy to use. travel enthusiasts just type in when and where they want to rent a car and start the price comparison. You can then filter the offers according to your wishes.
Three contract partners
But before customers click on the most important criteria for a good offer, they should know who their contract partners are. Unlike renting a car directly at your vacation destination, you do not have just one contractual partner, but three (see graphic below).
1. Comparison portal. Online customers look for a good offer. You can book with the portal and usually cancel free of charge 24 hours before the start of the rental period. Most of the portals have a call center that helps in case of questions and complaints.
2. intermediary. Customers see in the results list of the portal almost only offers from intermediaries, for example, autoeurope, cardelmar, sunny cars and drivefti. They conclude contracts for car rental contingents with car rental companies at the vacation destination. In addition, you can often book a vehicle with comprehensive insurance, which includes an excess in the event of damage. Both ensure the most favorable prices, which they pass on to the vacationers. Customers pay for the rental car in advance with the agent.
3. Rent a car. The customer only concludes the rental contract for the car with the rental company at the vacation destination. And to him he must turn if the car has a scratch or dents that are not in the handover report. The rental company determines the amount of the deductible or also what additional costs are incurred, for example, for a car return outside the opening hours, for child seats or a navigation system. Such information summarizes the comparison portals well.
Three important clicks
in comparison calculators, customers can check certain boxes to specify important contract details. Who does this is better protected especially in case of damage.
1. Book without deductible
A dent or a scratch, that happens quickly. In the event of damage to the rental car, the fully comprehensive insurance one. Often travelers have to pay a deductible – usually in the amount of the deposit. in popular mediterranean locations, deposits of 800 to 1 100 euros are normal – even for small cars.
If customers click on the filter criterion "without deductible", they are protected from these costs. Until now, there were usually offers where travelers first paid the deductible to the rental company on site in the event of damage and then recovered it from the intermediary. This rule repeatedly causes trouble, as we know from letters from our readers. Because in order to get the refund, customers must provide the agent with supporting documents, for example, a police record. This also applies to small dents. If you do not have receipts or submit them too late, you may be left with the costs.
Since recently, there is the possibility to search for contracts with a "real" fully comprehensive insurance, where customers do not have to advance any money in case of damage and do not have to get it back from the agent.
For this click at check24 the filter "without excess and no payment" to. "with these offers, the local rental company has no incentive to sell additional insurance at pickup," says fabio garzotto of check24. Even dents or scratches for which the customer is not responsible cannot be charged for. Check24 introduced the filter criterion in 2019.
At cheap-car-rental.De the filter is called "fully comprehensive and theft protection without excess". So far, it is only available for bookings via smartphone. Frieder bechtel, spokesman for the portal, announces: "by the beginning of april at the latest, we will have the filter on all internet-enabled devices."
Tip: compare the prices of two contract variants with fully comprehensive insurance:
- With "100% refund" of the deductible and
- Without paying a deductible.
The hassle free version without payment costs for small cars – depending on destination, provider and season – between 15 euro and 60 euro more per week. The deposit is often significantly lower for this. Important: check if the "real" fully comprehensive insurance also covers glass, tires and the roof of the car. If not, click this in any case.
If you choose a contract with reimbursement of the deductible, read in the rental conditions check which Duties you in case of damage have.
Independent. Lens. Incorruptible.
2. Only with a good customer rating
On the portals, former customers can rate the landlord. This is especially important for those who choose a contract with reimbursement of the excess in the event of a claim. The portals award stars that refer to all stations in the respective vacation country.
Tip: click "good landlord rating" at billiger-mietwagen.De on. You will then see landlords with at least four out of five stars. At check24 you can search more specifically further down in the filter under "customer rating. Check how expensive a rental company with more stars is. Read customer reviews and search specifically for experiences that others have had with rental companies at the vacation destination. Avoid landlords who try to sell unnecessary insurance on the spot. To the european consumer center, the company is goldcar negative.
3. Pay attention to the fuel regime
Recommendable is the regulation to rent the car with a full tank and to return it the same way. This way you can avoid additional costs. At the portals you have to click on "fair" or "good" fuel regulation. If you don’t check the box, you may have to buy the first tank of gas from the rental company, but you can return the car empty. Disadvantage: the landlord charges higher prices for the fuel than the gas station and sometimes also a service fee.