Thursday, February 17, 2011

Should You Rent a Car in Europe?

Should you rent a car in Europe?  After all the praise I’ve heaped on the European rail network, you might think my answer is no.  But there are times when a rental car might be a good idea.

When we travel in Europe for a longer period, we often rent a car the last week or two of the trip.  By this time we’re tired of lugging the suitcases in and out of trains and buses.  Also, we have a lot of extended family in and around the city of Würzburg, Germany, where a car certainly makes it easier to dart from village to village for visits.

It’s a good idea to rent your car from home, before you get to Europe – it’s much less expensive this way.  We’ve always found the best deal from Auto Europe, but it certainly is wise to compare the rates on the individual rental car company sites as well (Avis, Hertz, Dollar, etc.)  One thing we have learned, however, is that a significant fee is charged to return your vehicle to a different country than where you picked it up.  Cross borders all you like while you have it, but return it to the same country.

Make sure you check with your car insurance company whether you’re covered in Europe.  Chances are you’re not.  Then check with your credit card company to see if they offer rental car insurance overseas.  Many do!  You must use that card to rent your car.  But will it really work when it comes down to it, or is there fine print in your credit card agreement that will give them an excuse to deny you?  I have personal experience that yes, my Capital One Visa card promptly and kindly reimbursed me for the damages I incurred in Germany to my Avis rental car.  (Dang, those narrow streets over there – I scraped the side of the car while parking!)



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