How to avoid unexpected fees on hire cars this summer

How to avoid unexpected fees on hire cars this summer


Holidaymakers have been told how to avoid getting hit with expensive fines and non-refundable security deposits on hire cars this summer. Car rental experts at have named the ten things tourists should check to ensure they aren’t charged unexpected, extortionate fees when dropping off their hire cars.

ensure you carry out a full vehicle inspection

Many firms will try to charge tourists extra fees for pre-existing damage – so it’s crucial to carry out a full vehicle inspection and to document any scratches or marks before driving away. Even the smallest bit of litter or sand could knock money off the deposit, so be mindful of what items are left in the car.

Check every pocket, underneath the seats and all over the boot for any personal belongings that may have otherwise been left behind to avoid being hit with unexpected fines. Drivers should also consider purchasing additional insurance to save on paying any excess if the vehicle is damaged during the hire car period.

What do the experts say?

John Charnock, CEO of said: “Making sure to carry out the necessary steps when receiving and dropping off your hire car is the only way you’re likely to get your full deposit back and not  be hit by extortionate fees.

“No-one wants to be hit with expensive fines after their holiday, especially for any damage to the car which was already there when they got in the vehicle. That’s why it’s important to document any scratches or marks and complete a thorough check of the interior and exterior before setting off to avoid any frustrations.

“Be aware of expensive security deposits on arrival, and remember that most hire car companies will only accept credit card payments – or will charge a premium to use a debit card. Purchasing a full-to-full fuel policy may seem more inconvenient, but will usually save you money compared to the expensive refuelling costs companies will try to add on to full-to-empty contracts.

“As much as hire car establishments may try to overcharge you, there are several things drivers should do to ensure they aren’t hit with expensive fees, such as taking out insurance policies and documenting any damage.

10 Top tips on keeping your hire car deposit

10 Top tips on keeping your hire car deposit

Check the fuel policy

It’s crucial to check the fuel policy of any hire car else risk losing money in administration charges often added on top. A ‘full to empty’ contract may seem the more convenient option as drivers won’t have to top up their tanks back to full before dropping off the car. However, watch out for high refuelling fees added on top, which cost a lot more than it would be to refill the car yourself. A full to full contract will mean motorists aren’t unexpectedly charged anything else on top by the hire car company.

Payments with credit cards

Many hire car establishments do not accept debit cards as a means of transaction, and will only take payments from credit cards. On the rare occasions that they do allow holidaymakers to pay with debit cards, an expensive fee will usually be added on top. Drivers should also always check first that their credit card type is accepted, as some banks such as American Express are less frequently accepted.

Be aware of expensive, unexpected security deposits

When collecting hire cars, the reception desk on arrival will often ask for motorists to leave a security deposit down – which can reach exorbitant amounts (sometimes ranging up to £2000). Holidaymakers are often unaware of the costly security deposits before arriving, so are hit with sudden expensive fees.

10 Top tips on keeping your hire car deposit

Extra insurance can save you in the long run

An alternative to expensive security deposits is purchasing premium cover insurance – where the excess is reduced to zero, meaning drivers do not need to pay any excess if the vehicle is damaged during their hire period. Purchasing additional insurance (different to the insurance from the car rental company), will reduce the excess and can cover additional things such as towing charges or misfuelling.

Consider hiring a car with no deposit needed

Some car rental companies offer no deposit options, which can be a great option for those who can’t afford an upfront payment, or feel uncomfortable leaving a large amount blocked on their card. With some car hire deposits reaching thousands of pounds, they can often be  a nasty surprise for people who don’t have the budget. It is well worth exploring the options available at different rental companies to see if they have low or no deposit options.

Complete a full check before you drive away

Before even turning the engine on and leaving the rental car station, carry out a thorough check all over the vehicle to make sure there aren’t any issues that haven’t already been raised. Closely examine every panel, mirror, window, and underneath the bumpers. Make sure to check the interior and the exterior of the car too as to not miss anything.

10 Top tips on keeping your hire car deposit

Document any scratches

Take plenty of photos and videos of any marks or cracks on the car before driving off to ensure you can prove any piece of damage was there previously. Many hire care companies will hand over a vehicle inspection form to document scratches, and if possible, get this form signed by a member of staff.

Check everywhere for personal items

When getting ready to hand the hire car back, check everywhere inside the vehicle for personal belongings which may have been misplaced. Some rental companies will charge extra for even a small item left behind. If there have been kids in the car they might’ve hidden or dropped a toy, so check beneath the seats, the side of the door, and in the glovebox.

Be mindful of keeping the car clean

Throughout the holiday, be mindful of what is being brought in the car to keep it as fresh as possible and save time on cleaning at the end of the hire. Remove shoes with sand or mud on them before getting in, and avoid eating any food which may be sticky or hard to remove. Cleaning fees at the end of the car hire period can be charged if the vehicle is not in good condition – if a security deposit has not been purchased in advance.

10 Top tips on keeping your hire car deposit

Stay for the end inspection

Once handing back the keys, stay for the final car inspection and get the forms signed off to avoid being hit with any unexpected fees once you get back home. If dropping off the car outside of normal working hours, remember to take photos and videos to prove the vehicle was in a good condition in case they try and charge you with something that wasn’t there

To find out more about getting a full deposit back on your hire car, head over to

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