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New EU-wide rules promise more clarity on car rental pricing

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The Competition & Markets Authority recently released details of an EU-wide settlement which it has agreed with Avis Budget, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Europcar, Sixt and Hertz.  Within six months, all of these firms will make fundamental changes to the way in which they sell their cars online.

The list of agreed changes is long and varies from firm to firm depending on their existing processes.  You should expect to see:

Young Driver Surcharges included in headline prices

Clear information about pricing of optional extras

All optional extras to made available for purchase during booking and not held back for sale only at pick up

Clearer information about key terms and conditions

Clearer upfront information about the size of the credit or debit card preauthorisation that will be required

Optional waiver and insurance products to be outlined during the booking process, including the pricing, exclusions and applicable excesses

Information about the pre and post rental vehicle inspection process

No damage payments to be made to credit or debit cards before the customer is given a ‘reasonable opportunity’ to challenge them

A BBC report on these changes mentioned one which was not covered in the CMA press release.  Customers will no longer be forced to pay upfront for a non-refundable full tank of petrol, however full the tank when the car is returned.  This may end up being the biggest change.  This is not usually an issue in the UK but is a well known problem when hiring in Europe.

To be honest, at least with Hertz (which is the firm I use the most), I have never had any major issues with clarity during the booking the process.  I did, however, once have a Hertz employee in London make up a fake damage claim when I returned the car and then offer to waive it if I paid him £50 in cash.

More information on these changes can be found on the CMA website here.

How to get FREE car rental status and other benefits via UK credit cards

How to get FREE car rental status and other benefits via UK credit cards (December 2023)

If you hire a car in the UK, you can get special benefits (discounts, upgrades, free additional drivers etc) if you have elite status with a car rental programme. You can get elite status for free via certain American Express cards.

The Platinum Card and American Express Business Platinum

The Platinum Card from American Express and American Express Business Platinum come with two free car hire status cards. Your supplementary Platinum cardholder can also receive status in their own right.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive a huge 100,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 100,000 Avios) with The Platinum Card. You receive 75,000 points if you spend £10,000 in six months and a further 25,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.

From Avis, you receive President’s Club status in Avis Preferred. This gets you up to 25% off standard rates, a free additional driver and a guaranteed one class upgrade. For weekend rentals you will receive a two class upgrade, subject to availability.

From Hertz, you receive ‘Five Star’ status in Hertz Gold Plus Rewards. This gets you up to 15% off standard rates, a free additional driver and a one class upgrade, subject to availability.

Hertz also offers Platinum cardholders a 4 hour grace period on rentals. Your final day is treated as 28 hours, so a 1pm pick up with a 5pm return the following day is only charged as one day, not two days. We wrote about the Hertz / Platinum 4 hour grace period here.

The Platinum Card also comes with full car hire insurance with no obligation to pay for the rental via American Express. You can refuse any attempts to sell you additional insurance at pick up. This benefit has substantial value if you rent on a regular basis.

You can find more details on the two Platinum cards, and apply, in our full reviews linked below. You can apply here for the personal card and here for the business card.

The Platinum Card from American Express

Crazy 100,000 points (TO 9th JANUARY) and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is an excellent card in its own right. You receive 20,000 Membership Rewards points for signing up (convert to 20,000 Avios amongst other things), four airport lounge passes and £120 of Deliveroo credit. Even better, your first year is free.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive 30,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 30,000 Avios) with American Express Preferred Rewards Gold. You receive 25,000 points if you spend £3,000 in three months and a further 5,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.

There are two car rental benefits:

  • you receive Preferred Plus status in Avis Preferred
  • you receive a special package with Hertz – 10% off best available rates at participating locations, a one class upgrade for rentals of 5 days or more, subject to availability, and no additional driver fees

Find out more about the benefits of American Express Preferred Rewards Gold in our review. You can apply here.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points (TO 9th JANUARY), FREE for a year & four airport ….. Read our full review

Comments (33)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Oliver says:

    Excellent. The only thing in the world I hate spending money on is car hire. Mostly because of all the hidden charges that they hit you with when you go to collect. Also that they take £1000 deposit on a card and want to charge the whole lot for a scratch. Bring on airbnb for cars

  • Kim H says:

    Interesting re Hertz and spurious damage claims, as I am currently pretty hacked off with Hertz Austria. Rented a car in Vienna, great car, no problems. Couldn’t get it checked over when I returned it as the pick up and drop off are in separate locations at the airport and the drop off office was shut- but the pick up office took the keys.
    Got an invoice a few days later charging me €70 for damage with no details at all. Emailed, called and tweeted Hertz UK customer service, who all were unable to give me details as the rental agreement was still ‘open’ in Austria. Eventually got an email a week or so later saying that the charge would be refunded (but no one could give me any details)…. which it was but I am down the bank charges as the wrong credit card was on file.

    Then I got a notification by post of a speeding fine and a Hertz admin charge, for which I had to fax (?!?) my credit card details to Hertz Austria’s fines dept. So while they’d quite happily take the charge from my card for made-up damage, they couldn’t do so to satisfy their admin charge…!

    For the record I emailed a photo of the document they wanted by fax and they seem to have taken the money, although the email was never acknowledged.

  • Roger says:

    Having previously enjoyed 50% off rack rates with Avis as a shareholder in Avis Europe (no longer, bought out by Avis Inc), I gave up on Avis when they introduced new T+Cs converting charges to € – at their rate. No problem in Euroland but DCC elsewhere. 🙁

    I now use brokers such as the former Holiday Autos with suitable discounts. The last two times have shown local rental brands in US and South Africa, so easier to make a choice.

    I’ve not had great problems with scams, other than the seemingly mandatory ZAR 20 ‘refuelling’ charge at CPT by different agencies, not huge but symptomatic of a corrupt system.

    • What's the Point says:

      A S Africa car rental desk is the only time I have ever had my credit card cloned – in over 20 years of using credit cards.

  • Mark says:

    Slightly off topic.. I’m considering buying a year’s rental insurance from which will enable us to refuse CDW when we rent in the Caribbean/US and cover the excess on our upcoming trip to Italy.

    Anyone have any experience of using them / making a claim?

    • Nick says:

      Yes, before I took out my Amex plat, I used the car hire excess firms. Worked great when I needed to make a claim. Make sure that £55 cover includes North America. Sounds cheap. I used to pay around £100 a year for worldwide cover in 2012

      • Mark says:

        It’s actually – £55 is the deluxe worldwide annual rate for rentals up to 31 days.

      • Mark says:

        It does include North America – states all countries in the world.

  • Rich says:

    No experience of the company you mention, but I have used They were incredibly slow in sorting out a relatively small claim earlier this year.

    • AliC says:

      I’m in dispute with Hertz UK at the moment re CDW. The Hertz website says in more than one place that it is optional cover in most cases – in fact, it specifically says it is only compulsory for prestige vehicles.
      My quote listed CDW as an option that had not been included – along with one-way rental, young driver surcharge, additional driver surcharge, sat-nav etc (none of which I had selected). I always refuse the extra insurance in my online bookings and when the sales agent at the counter tries to upsell it.
      However, my post-rental invoice for a 10 day rental came with the nasty surprise of GBP180+ for CDW, despite that it had not been discussed at the counter.
      Hertz is arguing that CDW is compulsory in the UK and I ought to have shown evidence of existing insurance to be excepted from the charge. I argue that I had not selected the service, nothing in their terms and conditions says it’s compulsory and if they wanted proof of other cover, they ought to have asked for it – certainly they should have told me they were intending to charge it so we could have had the discussion. Has Hertz only recently started quoting without CDW? I’m a fairly regular renter and this is not a charge I’ve ever needed to discuss with them before.
      My responses from Hertz sadly fail to engage on this (they seem to think it is enough to say that (they think) the charge is correct – without giving supporting evidence).
      Maybe I ought to write to my insurer and let them take it up.

      PS Kim H -I understand that the car hire companies can’t charge your card for speeding fines etc because paying a fine is technically admitting an offence, which is not something they can do on your behalf. Admin charge wouldn’t be subject to that rule.

      • Mark says:

        I think the easiest solution here would be to dispute the charge with your credit/debit card provider, including the relevant evidence, and Hertz will then have to justify the charge to them.

        I doubt that your insurer would be interested in taking it up since the fact that you had it presumably reduced the risk to them anyway.

      • Kim H says:

        Ah, thanks for explaining that Ali C. It was only the admin charge – yet another weird Hertz thing clearly!

        I think CDW is required in the UK but only as some form of insurance – and most companies have something included as standard, but that is any CDW / general insurance with any excess…. I once hired from Sixt at heathrow (will not start a rant about them) where the excess was £2000 if I didn’t pay for the excess waiver at £6/day….

        Surely if it is illegal not to have it, its illegal to sell car hire without it?! I would definitely do as Mark suggests and instruct your card provider to dispute it…

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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