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.
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.
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.