I am in Newcastle and need to rent a car for a few days to go on a trip next week.

It’s all proving quite a massive stress, not helped by conflicting advice all over the internet, fake reviews, etc….

Searching sky scanner for price comparison I see a rather shocking difference in prices. From the airport I can get a car for £6 for 3 days (how on earth is that possible?) whilst from the city it is costing closer to what I expected, £50 and the like.

This goes completely against my expectations. Usually you expect to pay more for the convenience of an airport pickup, this being aimed at people who have just flown in.

How can these companies charge so little for car rental? Is this some sort of scam where they’ll charge you £6 knowing they will definitely charge you several hundred for a hidden scratch?

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    Does the airport hire cost include insurance? How do the excess rates compare? I've run into this and could only think that the hire company made money from selling extra insurance or making claims for tiny amounts of damage – Dave Gremlin Feb 21 '19 at 14:09
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    There is too much unmentioned that we cannot be sure whether you are comparing like-for-like, but ultimately, in a more-or-less free market like the UK, prices depend on supply and demand. If the airport has hundreds of cars available and the city location has ten, the city location is going to have pricing power which the airport location does not, likewise if there are six agencies at the airport but only one in a neighborhood. – choster Feb 21 '19 at 15:00
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    Nope. You will note get a car for 6 quid at the airport. Read the fine print – Hilmar Feb 21 '19 at 18:56
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    Post a copy of one of these offerers. Use archive.is to avoid giving them pagerank. – Navin Feb 21 '19 at 21:22

It's impossible to give a definitive answer without (at least) knowing more details like dates/etc, but what you've described is not uncommon. A few of the common reasons for this are...

  • Airport locations frequently have much more competition. Newcastle Airport has around 10 different rental companies, so competition will be much higher than an off-airport location which will potentially result in lower prices.

  • Economy rental companies will often ONLY have on-airport locations. Even if you're not looking at renting from one of these companies, it again helps with competition.

  • Rental companies often have far more cars than they have space to store. This isn't normally a problem as their cars are rented out, however during periods of low demand they may not have enough space to store their non-rented vehicles. In order to avoid this, they will sometimes reduce car prices to almost free in order to stimulate demand. This often occurs only for "quiet" days of the week (weekends at some locations, weekdays at others)

  • Airports normally have additional taxes and fees, however there are sometimes charged as a percentage of the rate, so for cheap rentals sometimes only have a minimal impact on the price.

In particular for Newcastle Airport there appears to be one company that has particularly cheap rates. If you do an internet search for this company you'll find a number of reviews that paint an interesting picture of their business practices.

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    With regards to your last bullet point it may be that all the prices are all sans fees, but that the non-airport locations have jacked up their prices to match what the airport fees would be - thus making the airport prices seem cheaper, but you end up paying paying about the same from either location. – Peter M Feb 21 '19 at 17:08

A car rental I got in Dublin had hidden in the fine print a note that there would be a €30 charge for airport pickup, payable at time of pickup (in addition to what was paid and contracted for online for the rental period). (I did notice, but it would have been very easy to miss). Which put that rental in approximately the same price range as others which did include any airport pickup fee.

I would be suspicious there's something like that going on.

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    "others which did include any airport pickup fee" Missing "not"? – Acccumulation Feb 21 '19 at 20:40
  • @Acccumulation Some travel booking sites included the fee and some didn't. – Spehro Pefhany Feb 21 '19 at 20:41

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