Most Detailed Guide on How to Rent a Car in Europe

I read a lot of articles about renting a car in Europe. The most common questions are:” what do you need to rent a car?” “What are rent a car prices?”, “How to rent a car?”. I didn’t find any correct answers in any article. Moreover, I’m sure people writing these articles have never been to Europe. That’s why I will list all you need to know to rent a car and drive it in Europe. I will add photos of my rental cars from different trips or just nice views=)

Therefore, Renting a car in EUROPE today is not a luxury but one of the most convenient and economical ways to travel in those countries where public transport is costly. Renting a car is much more profitable than spending money on public transport. For example, one round trip for three in the Amsterdam underground will cost a minimum of 3*3*2=18 euros, while you can safely rent a car for the whole day for this money! It is a great way to save money! In addition, the more people travel together, the more tangible the benefit of renting a car becomes. And you don’t need to talk much about the convenience of car travel. In other words, I think that everybody understands that there is no more convenient way to travel on your own!

Take car key

Take the key and drive!

How to rent a car

Look for the Best Deals in the Chosen City for Your Dates.

It’s best to do it online in advance. This way, it is always much cheaper.

Read Terms and Conditions Clearly

You can find a lot of hidden conditions about the second driver, young driver fee, or child seat

Book a Car on the Site.

It is a straightforward process.

Pick up the Car at the Designated Place at the Agreed Time.

Prepare a smartphone with your email address and show your car booking. Here you will need to READ and sign a contract, leave a deposit from your credit (or even debit card), and carefully search for the damage on the car. You should note all found damage in the car checklist. Make sure to record a car video where you show each scratch, snatch, pump, etc. This video shows your time and the place where you make a video.

Enjoy Your Trip.

Rent a Car at the end of the Rental Period

Rental car desk

Rental desks

What do you need to for renting a car

A Valid National Driver’s License with Name and Surname

The driver must be more than 18 years old (depending on the rental office and the country, in most cases, 21 years). If the driver is under 25 years old, a rental car company can make an additional charge. They call it the “young driver fee”.

Driving Experience is at least one year.

Suppliers can require driving experience of at least 2 or 3 years. It can happen for luxury or sports renting cars. Read car company terms on conditions and search for young driver fees and required driving experience. It is essential.

Passport in the Driver’s Name

Prepare documentsPrepare your passport and driving license

Personal Credit (or Debit) Card With Embossed Numbers and Name of the Main Driver

Prepare credit card

Make Sure to Take Your Credit Card

By the way, Debit cards are not accepted at international rental companies to block the deposit (Make Sure to Check T&C)

At the back of the bank card, search for the word: ”Debit”. If you can’t find this word — your card is credited. It is a foolish rule. Some local (not international) rental car companies can accept a deposit in cash or a passport. My advice is never to leave cash or documents deposit. A rental car company can check the car for a long time. In this way, you can miss your flight.

Voucher, if You Booked a Car on the Website.

You will get the voucher with rental information in your mail account.

Passport, driver’s license, and credit card MUST be in the name of the main driver

Types of Rental Offices.

New car

We took Nissan Micro (2019) from Turisprime Office in Lisbon

There are four types of renters in the world from which you can rent a car:

World-Famous Car Rental Companies (HERTZ, SIXT, AVIS, Europcar, Budget, ALAMO, etc.)

Rental Car Companies Websites (dealers, brokers) of these international renters.

(On one site, there are a lot of international rental offers at once) There are a lot of such rental car companies, but I use the best, repeatedly tested by me (in different countries, not only in Europe): Rentalcars, Economybookings, DoYouSpain. It would help if you did not treat them as ordinary intermediaries, often, the prices here are even lower than when renting directly, and the site and booking system is much more convenient.

Local rental offices. Each country in Europe has it’s own

Rental Car Companies With Local Rental Offices (this is the most uncommon group)

For example, “Myrentacar” in Montenegro, Bulgaria, Greece, Cyprus, and the Czech Republic.

Each type of tenant has its characteristics. As for local tenants and their dealers, they are widespread in southern (resort) countries of Europe, but in Central and Northern Europe, it is more profitable to use international rental companies and their aggregators.

Car damage

New car with a Scratch

What is a Rental Car “Aggregator”?

It is an intermediary between the renter and the client. It is where all offers from rental offices in a particular region are collected. I have ensured that the price is usually lower on such websites. Furthermore, it is important to compare insurance policies included in the price.

Sites-aggregators work at the expense of commission from each order. The more cars they have rented out, the more money they earn. Large resellers have a substantial discount from all rental offices, so they can lower the rental price than the usual rental car company.

Using a single currency to compare prices on different sites is convenient. Since we were renting a car in Europe, it is best to use the euro currency. Websites may not show correctly the price in USD.


Our Mercedes A-200 (2018) from Sixt (Berlin)

GoldCar Renter

I strongly discourage the use of this rental company. They operate in many European countries and are the worst rental company. They brazenly “divorced” us by 1065 euros. And we are not the only ones. There are a lot of such reviews on the Internet. There will be an article later and, in the meantime, a video about our sad experience:

Now, there are a lot of negative reviews about GoldCar on the Internet. There are whole communities (for example, a group on Facebook of 1600 people), so GoldCar started using other names, for example, Rhodium or InterRent:

Renter GoldCar disguises itself as InterRent

So be careful not to mess with them.

Nice view

Beautiful Sparta (Greece)

I also plan to detail the car rental topic in France and Spain.

In general, there is a significant difference in terms of car rental in southern resort European countries (Montenegro, Croatia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece) and the countries of central and northern Europe (Germany, France, Poland, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, Holland, Belgium, etc.). There is a huge number of local (local) renters I n southern countries, who often offer better options than large international car rental firms. But in Central and Northern Europe, the best offers are usually in large international car rentals.

Let’s See What Types of Insurance are Available:

Liability insurance – insurance of civil liability (compulsory insurance). In case of an accident, the insurance company will pay for the damage to the injured party.

Fire Insurance – fire insurance (compulsory type of insurance).

Rental car Renault Clio

Renault Clio 2016 in Porto

Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) – Insurance against damage with the franchise (compulsory insurance). The franchise is the amount that you risk losing in case of damage. The insurance will pay anything above this amount. The amount of the franchise is specified in the contract as Collision Excess and may vary from €300 to €800 or more, depending on the country, rental office, and car brand.

Theft Protection (TP) – theft protection (compulsory insurance). There is a possibility of a franchise. The contract specifies the amount as Theft Excess, usually the same as Collision Excess.

Includes Refundable Excess – additional insurance for your franchise. In case of damage to the car, the renter will deduct the amount from the franchise. Then, the aggregator reimburses this amount to the tenant.

Wheels, Glass, Roof, and Undercarriage Damage Coverage – Wheels, glass, roof, and chassis. All of these items are not included in the standard CDW damage insurance. This additional insurance covers all of these items.

Peugeot 2008

Peugeot 2008 (2016) from Weeze airport Europcar

Deposit and franchise are different concepts, but the amount is often the same. The deposit is being blocked on a bank card. The franchise is the amount the tenant risks in case of damage to the car.

If an insured event occurs and the car is slightly damaged, the tenant doesn’t pay the entire amount of the franchise. But only the part that is needed to restore the car.

If you have little driving experience or doubt your abilities, you should buy full insurance (without franchise) at the desk when you pay for the car. The deposit is either not blocked on the card or blocked for a small amount( up to 100 euros). as a deposit for gasoline. But in this case, the cost of car rental will increase two times (or even more). The cost of full insurance may vary from 13 to 25 euros per day or more, depending on the type of car, time of year, etc.

One of the most important things you should do before you leave the lot with a rental car is Read T&;C. Please note that there are exceptions, even the most comprehensive insurance. No insurance is valid if the driver was intoxicated or the car was damaged intentionally.

Fiat 500

Fiat 500 from Athens airport

Pay Attention to:

  • The longer the rental period, the lower the cost of a car per day.
  • In most cases, you can’t rent a car longer than 90 days
  • Check insurance difference

When comparing prices on different sites, be sure to pay attention to what insurance is included in the cost of the rent. The price with and without standard insurance can vary significantly, 1.5-2 times.

  • You never book even car brand

In international rentals, do not book a specific car, but the type or class of the car. For example, if a Mazda 3 or similar is specified, the tenant can get a Ford Focus. Or Toyota Corolla instead of Honda Civic. Typically, replaceable cars are of about the same level; sometimes, you can get a free car above the level. But sometimes, usually in the high season (summer), when there is a shortage of cars, some unhelpful companies may give a car below the level and say it is a car of the same class. We had this situation in Portugal in July 2018. When we got an Opel Astra 1.0 instead of a Peugeot 2008 or Citroen C4 Cactus crossover. Such situations are rare.

Old car

Old school=)

  • Pay attention to the deposit.

This amount will be frozen on your bank card when you rake a car. Sometimes deposit amounts are very high (depending on the car hirer and brand, for example, 1000 – 2000 euros). The amount is frozen on the card and returned to the card within 3 to 30 days after the car has been delivered.

Some companies have a mileage limit. For example, Europcar in Denmark gave me an offer with a mileage limit of 630 km per week. There needs to be more. And they wanted a deposit for a Ford Focus 1000 Euros.

I use for trips around the world only two free programs, which are installed on my smartphone: Google maps and maps.. I use Google maps as a navigation program in my car, and maps. as a detailed map for hiking in unfamiliar terrain. All sights and hiking trails are marked there in most cases. Before the trip, I downloaded the maps I needed to my smartphone, so these navigation programs could work without the Internet. You can do this on the “Offline Maps” tab:

Mobile Internet in The Road

By the way, If your smartphone or tablet is connected to the internet as a navigation device, the navigation program will show you the route with traffic jams in mind. This is very important, especially in large cities.

Using the universal Orange Mundo card to get the Internet in Europe is convenient.

It will cost 7 euros for 7GB or 10 euros for 10GB of internet in Germany (4G), Austria (4G), Azores, Åland, Belgium (4G), Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia (4G), Denmark (4G), Slovakia (4G), Slovenia (4G), Estonia (4G), Finland (4G), France (4G), Greece (4G), Guadeloupe, French Guyana, Gurney, Gibraltar, Netherlands (4G), Hungary (4G), Ireland (4G), Iceland, Spain (4G), Italy (4G), Latvia (4G), Liechtenstein, Lithuania (4G), Luxembourg, Malta, Martinique, Madeira, Mayotte, Norway (4G), Poland (4G), Portugal (4G), United Kingdom (4G), Czech Republic (4G ), Romania, Reunion, San Martin, Sweden (4G).

Mercedes with bullet marks

I’ve found a very old Mercedes with bullet marks in Sparta

European Driving rules

There’s no big difference to the usual traffic rules. In Europe, everything is logical and clear, also, a good roads’ quality, markings, and lane directions in most cases. If you turn to the left, there is a separate lane. As a result, in all the European countries where I have been, I felt a little bit uncomfortable in the small streets of Italy, Greece, Netherlands, and Switzerland.

In addition, the use of a dipped beam is mandatory for the whole day in most European countries .

Max. speed in the city is 50, in the country, it is 80-90. On motorways, it is 110-130 km/h (depending on the specific country).

These are only the main features of European traffic rules. I always recommend reading carefully all the traffic rules for the country where you are going.

Car and dog

Peugeot 508 (2014) with Corgi (2015)

Motorway Features

Furthermore, there are European countries where motorway payment is made for a certain road section (Poland, Italy, France, Greece, Croatia, Portugal). At the entrance to the motorway, there are special checkpoints where you pay by bank card or cash.

There are countries where the highways are free of charge: Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, partly Spain, etc.

After that, there are countries where all expressways are paid for once for a certain period: a week, ten days, two weeks, or a month (Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Austria, Switzerland). In the latter case, you need to buy the so-called “vignette” and glue it to the windshield (or the number of the car enters into the database when paying). You can pay at the first filling station when you enter the motorway. In Portugal now are still existing highways with only electronic payment. Drivers pay by using special transponders called “Via Verde”.

Basic rules of traffic on European motorways are the same as the USA highways.

In conclusion, there are several options for fuel policy when renting a car, but the best is when you get and rent a car with a full tank of fuel. If it is possible to choose, I recommend this option. In this case, you will pay only for the fuel you have used.

Nice car

One more view of Mercedes A-200(2018)

All You Need is Love!

With respect, Leo Harris