Renting a car for that great New Zealand road trip? It will be an even greater trip if you choose the right rental, one that gives you all the space you need while fitting into your budget. But room and economy aren’t the only things to consider. Here is a list of what we think are important things to bear in mind as you shop around for your rental vehicle.
- Compare prices. Obviously, the highest priority for most customers is a good price. Be aware that any difference in daily rates is based upon the length of your car hire, day of the week you use the vehicle and seasonality. And don’t be afraid to ask about specials. Pretty much every company offers them.
- Do you really need an expensive car? Some companies boast about their fleet of brand new cars but they will charge you for the privilege of driving such a vehicle. But other companies have much more affordable options within their fleet, and depending on your requirements, these low-cost and not-as-fancy vehicles will take you where you want to go for a fraction of the price.
- Always check that the vehicle you have your eye on will actually be spacious enough to carry all of your luggage and give your passengers enough room for a comfortable ride. This is especially important if you’re on a family holiday as kids will want to bring everything with them. Take an up-close look at the vehicle itself before committing, rather than judging it by the photo on the website.
- While every reputable car rental company will include standard insurance on their regular rates, make sure you check out their policy in full so you know exactly what the excess will be, and what you might be able to do to reduce it.
- Always be sure how the rental company will charge you. By the day, or by the kilometre? Can you travel for unlimited kilometres without worrying about extra charges or is it cheaper to pay as you go? Find out before you seal the deal.
- Some rental car companies may or may not charge for additional drivers, so if more than one of you will be behind the wheel, ask about this before you rent the vehicle.
- Rental car companies will give you the vehicle with a full tank, and you are expected to return it with a full tank. If you don’t fill the tank, you might want to ask what sort of charges you’ll be liable for, such as the price of fuel and associated administration fees.
- Ask what extras each company provides and what fees are involved. For example, GPS devices, child and booster seats, roof racks, snow chains and so on. If you need any items like these, the company might offer a bundle deal with a discounted price for you.
- Roadside assist can be a lifesaver so check this is part of the standard rental agreement. It’s also good to confirm what you pay for, and what you don’t, as part of any assistance you might receive. In most cases, mechanical failures are covered by the roadside assist agreement but you might have to pay for other call-outs.
- If you want to cross Cook Strait as part of your journey, always check if you are allowed to do this. Some companies will say yes, and others will say no. It’s always good to know this before you reach the ferry terminal!
One final thing to think about. The best rental car companies have a comprehensive FAQ page that will answer any other questions you might have and give you information on other things you haven’t even considered. Use this free resource to find out more about each company. If a rental company doesn’t have much on their FAQ page, or no page at all, then you might want to question their transparency.
If you’re a parent on wheels, Maria’s got your back. Her blog is a treasure trove of insights on family-friendly cars, making life with the little ones more enjoyable. Join her for practical auto advice with a personal touch.