7

I'm planning a solo travel trip to Brussels and was wondering if any American / US Drivers license holders have experience booking an airport car rental through Expedia or similar. Currently, I reserved a car for $165/week, with unlimited mileage - I plan to drive around Belgium within a 1 hour radius and after a few days, drive to Netherlands.

I did not add collision insurance and have a pretty comprehensive American insurance coverage. Is there anything additional I should consider? My only concern is being forcefully 'upsold' or taken advantage of at the counter upon arrival or being told they cannot offer me the car at the Expedia reserve price. Was wondering if anyone can share their experience renting a car in Europe with an American DL / Passport.

Note, the car company I used was Hertz, which is pretty well known, so I don't expect any surprises, but would like to be well-prepared should anything come up.

  • 2
    Did you book an automatic? If not, can you handle a manual/stick shift driven car? – Berwyn Dec 2 '17 at 23:55
  • 1
    I actually prefer a manual transmission, so thats no issue :D Great point though, rental cars are manual transmissions by default in Europe. – AnchovyLegend Dec 3 '17 at 0:43
  • I find the best way to avoid any upsells is by joining the rental agency loyalty programme and setting preferences there. I book direct and rarely even communicate with agents. I'm EU though so can't answer your question from a US PoV – Berwyn Dec 3 '17 at 0:50
6

Especially with larger companies, you should have no issues at all.
I had several dozen rentals all across Europe (with US Drivers License, and nobody ever wanted to see a passport); never any questions or issues. The worst to expect is a funny accent, but they are all used to handling many US visitors every day.

You need to make sure that you know which insurances you need, as other countries have other rules (in the US, a Driver is insured, in Europe, often the car is insured, not the driver). Check upfront if your credit card covers comprehensible insurance, or if your US insurance covers you in the rental car. They do try to upsell, but if you give the impression that you know what you want, they are not annoying at all.

Note also that small rental car damages are seen quite different in Europe - any little scratch that National or Enterprise or Hertz would ignore in the US may result in three or four digits repair bills.

  • 1
    You won’t be forced. You just need to understand which risk you take when you decline it. They make you sign that you decline potentially. – Aganju Dec 3 '17 at 3:55
  • 1
    I am using Hertz actually, is it really the case that Hertz in Europe would operate differently and charge for even minor damages / scratches that would be ignored in the US? When you rented a car in EU did you accept the insurance that was offered at the counter? – AnchovyLegend Dec 3 '17 at 3:57
  • 4
    Definitely. I have several bills I paid to prove it. It’s not Hertz, it’s the European culture about cars and ‘damage’. – Aganju Dec 3 '17 at 3:58
  • 6
    In most European countries, third party liability insurance is mandatory and linked to the car, not the driver. If you rent a car in Europe, liability insurance is included in the 'base price'. What you can buy extra is usually insurance covering self-inflicted damage to the car (also scratches, rock chip, etc.) and theft. Such additional insurance can be quite expensive, but it can also get very expensive not having such insurance. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Dec 3 '17 at 10:56
  • 1
    All rentals in Europe include mandatory basic insurance which covers the minimum legal requirement. However there is usually a high excess on the basic policy (US$1000+). You should look for a car hire excess insurance policy (in the US, or which allows US residents to purchase it). This is effectively insuring the excess rather than the car itself. In the event of damage to the car you would pay the car hire company (up to the maximum of the excess) and then claim this back from the excess insurance company. I rent cars a lot & this is what I do. My policy costs me around US$60 a year. – MrAndySweet Dec 3 '17 at 13:59
2

Several years back I rented through Hertz to drive from Faro to and around the Algarve in Portugal.
I booked the rental car (manual transmission) locally in Boston and purchased a International Drivers License from AAA (15-20.00 USD) just to cover any potential veracity or legal challenges using my US issued Drivers License. In addition to upgrading the rental coverage on my travel insurance.

If your first time driving in the EU. Perhaps you might find the link below helpful.

As an aside don't make the mistake I did. Before you drive out of the destination airport. Ask about hours and locations for refueling your rental along the route(s) you have planned.
Safe travels! http://traveltips.usatoday.com/driving-instructions-europe-27544.html

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.