No more hidden charges for holiday hire car drivers

After years of customers facing confusion around hidden charges around their holiday car rental, companies were told to change their ways to fully comply with EU rules. With rental services required to clearly list all charges, find out what they all mean. 

After years of customers facing confusion around hidden charges around their holiday car rental, companies were told to change their ways to fully comply with EU rules. With rental services required to clearly list all charges, find out what they all mean. 

Josh Daniels
From the Travel team
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Posted 02 JUNE 2020

What extra charges are there for holiday hire cars? 

As well as the standard rental agreement, you may be expected to pay some, or all, of the following: 

  • Insurance charge 
  • Upgrade charge 
  • Damage charge 
  • Extra day charges 
  • Admin charges 
  • Young or old driver charges 
  • Fuel charges 
  • Toll charges 
  • Road tax charges 


Non-essential travel is not currently permitted within the UK before 12 April 2021 at the earliest (check individual regions before travel as they may be different) and international travel is not currently permitted before 17 May 2021 at the earliest (dates subject to further confirmation from the government).

You’re still able to purchase annual multi-trip policies, however, if you choose to travel against The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advice and current restrictions, you won’t be covered for your trip, including for essential travel.

Find out more here

Customers with more serious pre-existing medical conditions

Our panel includes insurance providers who quote cover for all medical conditions declared on our website, with no exclusions.

The Money and Pensions Service (MaPs) has launched a directory of insurance providers on its Money Advice Service website that may be able to provide quotes over the phone, if you have more serious medical conditions. Find more information at the Money Advice Service or by calling the British Insurance Brokers’ Association on 0370 950 1790.

What is an insurance charge?

While your rental car will likely come with a basic insurance package, one that meets national or European law, you’ll likely be offered a separate insurance package. This is known as the insurance charge, and is typically an upgraded package. 

How can I avoid car rental insurance charges? 

You might not have to pay an insurance charge, if your rental package includes a basic level of insurance as standard. If you’d prefer, you can also arrange a separate insurance package with another provider. Be sure to check what’s included in your standard rental agreement, but you may find a better deal by shopping around and comparing insurance for your rental car. 

What is an upgrade charge? 

This is simply an offer to upgrade to a better car than the one you’ve previously agreed to rent. “Better” could mean a bigger or more luxury vehicle, or one including extra features. This type of charge is purely optional, but you should check the total price, as some charges can be offered at a daily rate. 

What is a damage charge? 

Once you’ve returned your rental car, it’ll be checked for any damages by the provider. If they find any damage, you will be charged for the cost of repairs. You should check your rental agreement carefully, to find out how much you will be charged for different types of damage. 

How can I avoid damage charges? 

While the most obvious tip for avoiding damage charges is to simply not damage the vehicle, that is perhaps easier said than done. Drive responsibly, as if the car was your own, and park it in a safe place, particularly overnight. 

A good tip, to avoid being charged for damages that aren’t your fault, is to carefully examine the car before you drive away. Take pictures if necessary, but point out any existing damage or scuffs to the vehicle with your provider, and make sure that they’re noted. That way, you won’t be paying for anyone else’s bad driving. 

Will I be charged for extra days? 

Your rental agreement will be for a fixed term, usually by a daily or weekly rate. If you are late returning the vehicle, you will be charged a pre-agreed fee. 

To avoid being caught out, you should read your agreement carefully, and find out the cut-off point for an extra day. If you bring the car back on the afternoon of the right day, but the rental agreement states it needed to be returned by noon, you’ll likely be charged for a full extra day. 

What are admin fees? 

Admin fees are a common extra charge that can cover a range of things for the provider. As well as helping towards any potential damages to the vehicle, it can also cover smaller things such as servicing the car, or cleaning it once it’s returned. 

Will I be charged as a young driver?

You may face extra charges because of your age. This can be for younger and older drivers. The ages may vary from one rental provider to the next, but, if you’re under 25, or over 60, it’s always worth checking your agreement carefully for this extra fee. 

It’s worth shopping around with different providers. If you’re 24 for example, one provider may classify you as a young driver, but another may not. You might just save yourself an extra fee. 

What are fuel charges? 

Fuel charges are simply paying for the fuel you use while renting the car. Most rental providers use a “full to full” policy, which means that they’ll hand the car over to you with a full tank of fuel, with the expectation that you’ll return the car with a full tank. If you do not, you will face a charge for the hire company having to refuel it themselves. This may be at a more expensive rate than simply filling it up yourself, to compensate their extra effort. 

Read your policy carefully, to avoid being caught short on fuel, or even filling up more than you need to. 

Will I have to pay toll charges? 

While you’re responsible for the car, you’ll need to pay any toll charges while driving. While this is simple for roads which require payment at a service counter, more toll roads are adopting an electronic toll. 

Electronic toll roads record your car as you drive through, and then charge the registered owner of the vehicle. Your rental provider will later pass these charges on to you. 

Will I have to pay road tax? 

Road tax varies from country to country, so it’s best to read your agreement carefully, and be aware of the road tax charges that are relevant to your holiday destination. This may be included in the base rate of your rental, but you may have to pay the road tax as an extra. 

What if I use my own car? 

If you prefer to travel in the comfort of your own car, then you’ll need to make sure your car insurance covers you for European travel, if that’s where you’re heading off to. It’s worth checking exactly what your current policy includes, because the last thing you need is to find out that help is 500-odd miles away and not likely to be coming anytime soon. 
Make sure you’ve sorted out your travel insurance, too. Luckily, you can do that right here, whether you’re travelling alone, as a couple or taking the whole family

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