Renting a Car in UK

Renting a Car in UK

Renting a Car in United Kingdom for an Amazing Road Trip

Photo by Swansway Motor Group on Unsplash
WRITTEN BYKevin Ordonez
PUBLISHED ONNovember 27, 2023
United Kingdom Flag Against Cloudy Sky
Source: Photo by Maxim Hopman on Unsplash

Known for being the birthplace of sports like soccer, rugby, cricket, boxing, and golf, and home to iconic writers like William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, and Jane Austen, the United Kingdom (U.K.) has so much to offer.

Driving in the U.K. offers more than meets the eye. Imagine a road trip from bustling city centres to the charming countryside, navigating narrow roads in the comfort of automatic vehicles. Renting a vehicle is one way of making this dream come true. In the U.K., you can choose from family cars to spacious vans, leave your heavy luggage behind, and set off on an adventure.

With plenty of time to explore, the U.K.’s capital city and beyond await.

So, get ready to embark on a memorable journey, exploring the beauty of the U.K. in a rental vehicle. Read the rest of this guide to learn how to rent a car in the United Kingdom.

Basics of Renting a Car in United Kingdom

If this is your first time renting a car in the United Kingdom, there are a few basics to keep in mind.

Do You Need an International Driver's Permit?

When it comes to renting a car in the U.K., there are some important rules to remember, including the necessity of an International Driving Permit (IDP) for certain drivers. If your driver's license isn't written in English, you'll need an International Driving Permit for U.K. along with your valid driver's license.

Car rental agencies in the U.K. want to make sure you can navigate the roads safely, that's why they ask for these documents.

Minimum Age Requirement and Additional Charges

If you're under 23, it's sad to say, every rental company will not allow you to rent a car. Some may even require that you've had a valid driving licence for at least a year. Just turned 23? Great news! But, if you or any additional driver is under 25, get ready to pay a little extra.

This ‘Young Driver Surcharge’ is an additional charge added by car rental agencies. But don't worry, it's worth the freedom to explore the U.K. at your own pace.

How Much Does Renting a Car in United Kingdom Typically Cost

The next thing you want to consider when renting a car is the cost. There are certain things to look out for:

  • Mileage Restrictions: When renting a car, watch out for mileage restrictions, as they can lead to extra costs. Some rental car companies allow only a certain number of miles per hour or day. Going over the limit can add up to your bill.
  • Insurance Costs: Rental insurance is a vital part of renting a car. Cheap car rental often does not include excess insurance or extra insurance. So, you might need to buy extra coverage from the rental company.
  • Fuel Policy: Understanding the fuel policy can save you from additional cost such as refuelling charges. Some companies provide a full tank and ask for an empty one upon return.
  • Additional Equipment and Accessories: Extra charges may apply for add-ons like GPS or child seats. If you're planning on renting electric vehicles, chargers could be an extra.
  • Price Match Guarantee: To ensure a fair deal, look for a rental car company that offers a price match guarantee. This means they'll match a lower rate if you find one elsewhere.

Do You Need Supplemental Liability Insurance When Renting a Car in UK?

While you are not required by law to have supplemental liability insurance when renting a car in the UK, it may be something to consider for peace of mind. That's because every insurance provider has different policies, and some might not cover accident-related damage to a rental car.

Car hire companies in the UK often offer their own insurance packages as part of rental deals, which can be especially handy if you're on a business trip or vacation and want to avoid any unexpected costs.

Remember, it's always better to be safe than sorry when driving in a foreign country.

Best Card to Use When Renting a Car in UK

There's really no one-size-fits-all answer to the best card for renting a car in the UK. Credit cards are typically preferred over debit cards due to their superior fraud protection.

Some credit cards even offer bonus points for travel spending, which includes car rentals. So, if you're a frequent traveler, using a point-earning credit card could be a smart move to maximize your benefits.

Things You Need to Know About Insurance and Coverage

Moving forward, let's talk about whether you should pay for extra insurance when renting a car in the United Kingdom. Unlike public transport, driving a rental car gives you the freedom to explore at your own pace. However, it comes with its own risks like the cost of damages in case of an accident. That's where additional insurance options come into play.

While your regular auto insurance or credit card insurance might offer some coverage, it's usually a good idea to consider getting extra coverage when renting a car. The congested streets of cities like London – which also comes with a congestion charge – can be quite challenging to navigate. Opting for additional coverage can give you peace of mind and let you enjoy your journey without worrying about potential mishaps.

If you're wondering where to get this additional coverage from, there are several car rental insurance providers in the UK that you can consider. Each of these providers offers different plans with varying levels of coverage. It's a good idea to compare these plans and choose one that fits your needs and budget.

Here are some car rental insurance providers in the UK:

  • AXA: Known for their comprehensive coverage and customer service.
  • Questor Insurance: Offers affordable car hire excess insurance.
  • Direct Car Excess Insurance: Provides coverage for damage, theft and includes cover for vulnerable parts of the vehicle.
  • iCarhireinsurance: Known for their zero-excess insurance policies.

No matter which provider you choose, remember that the aim is to enjoy your journey without worrying about potential costs that could arise from unexpected incidents.

Things to Consider When Driving in the United Kingdom

Now, let's take a look at some important things you should know when driving in the United Kingdom:

  • Petrol Stations: Keep an eye out for petrol stations as you will need to fill up your tank. Remember, petrol is sold by the litre in the UK.
  • Train Stations: You may need to park near train stations for day trips to other cities. The time of booking matters as prices can vary.
  • Single-Lane Roads: Be careful on single-lane roads, especially onrural roads, as they can be narrow and winding.
  • Yellow Lines: Yellow lines indicate parking restrictions. Double yellow lines mean no parking at any time.
  • Built-Up Areas: The speed limit in built-up areas is typically 30 mph unless road signs indicate otherwise.
  • Stick Shift: Most British cars are manual (stick shift), so make sure you're comfortable driving one before renting.
  • Dual Carriageway: When driving on a dual carriageway, the left lane is for normal driving and the right lane is for overtaking.
  • Pick Up and Drop Off Locations: Choose a convenient location where you can pick up or drop off your car rental. This could be an airport, train station, or city center.
  • Major Toll Roads: Be prepared to pay tolls on major roads. They can be paid in cash or via a pre-paid account.
  • Physical Road Map: While GPS is handy, getting a physical road map can be useful, especially if you lose signal.
  • Exit Roads: Pay attention to road signs when you need to exit a road or enter a motorway.
  • Road Markings: Familiarize yourself with various road markings. For example, white zigzag lines mean no stopping.
  • Road Conditions: Check the road condition, especially on country roads, and adjust your speed accordingly.
  • British Road Rules: Remember, in the UK, people drive on the left side of the road.

Practical Tips to Help You With Your Next UK Travel

Here are some practical tips to help you save on car rentals for your next trip to the United Kingdom:

  1. Book in Advance: One of the best ways to save money on car rentals is to book your vehicle well in advance. This can help you secure the best rates and avoid last-minute price hikes, especially in busy northern cities.

2. Understand the Rental Agreement: Before paying for a car, make sure you read and
understand the rental agreement. This will help you become familiar with insurance
terminology and avoid any unexpected charges.

3. Return the Car with Same Amount of Gas: Always return your rental car with the
same amount of gas as you received it. This will help you avoid any additional fuel
charges from the hire desk.

4. Ask for Discounts: Don't hesitate to ask for discounts or promos. Many rental
companies often have ongoing offers, especially for long-term rentals.

5. Search for the Best Car Rental: Spend time to research and search for the best car
rental in the United Kingdom by comparing rates, reading reviews, and checking hire

Remember, your driving guide in the UK should always include planning ahead and understanding all costs involved in hiring a car to make the most of your journey.

Car Rental Providers You Should Conside

Before we end this guide, here are some other car rental providers in the UK that you should consider for your next visit:

  • Alamo: With superior customer service and reasonable rental policies, Alamo stands out among car rental companies.
  • Enterprise: Close behind is Enterprise, known for its wide selection of vehicles and an easy booking process.
  • Hertz: Hertz is another top-rated company, praised for its extensive network of pick-up points and drop-off locations.
  • SIXT: Popular among customers for its modern fleet of cars and competitive prices, SIXT is a reliable choice.
  • Firefly: Offering good value for money with relatively lower rates and decent vehicle conditions, Firefly is a budget-friendly option.
  • Budget: True to its name, Budget is a great choice for affordable car hires.
  • Avis: Avis provides a wide range of vehicles and services, catering to various customer needs.
  • Europcar: Finally, Europcar, with its extensive network and range of vehicles, wraps up our list of recommended car rental companies.

Renting a car in the UK is arguably the best way to explore all the country has to offer. With these tips and recommendations, you can now confidently plan your next road trip and enjoy a hassle-free experience on the beautiful roads of the United Kingdom.

So go ahead, pack your bags, and hit the road for an unforgettable adventure!

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