Spain is a wonderful country with rich and diverse culture, world-renowned cuisine and a vibrant night life. And what a great opportunity to take advantage of the cheaper Euro during this summer vacation!
One of the best ways to visit Spain is by car -- book a Spanish rental hire and you can take your own pace to explore the glamorous Madrid, the stunning architecture in Barcelona, vibrant Spanish villages and the golden beaches and resorts along the magnificent Spanish coast... a self-guided tour is certainly a wonderful way to learn more about this beautiful country.
In order to fully enjoy your trip, there are some preparation work that you can do to make sure the car rental process is smooth, efficient and least costly.
Spanish Car Hire To-Do List
1. Determine What Is (Or Isn't) Included In The Car Rental Price
While the car rental in Spain is more or less the same as that in US or most western countries, nothing should be taken for granted. If you don't speak Spanish, you might want to make sure everything is ok before your trip.
Here is the list of the "standard" items included in the car rental price:
- Third-party insurance
- Collision damage protection, up to a certain level
- Full tank of gasoline
- VAT that applies to the Canary Islands
The following is not as common but could be available:
- 24-hour road assistance
- Airport fee and other surcharges by the government
- Higher insurance coverage (possibly with extra fee)
I would recommend that you go through the list with the car rental company and make sure the price has included these items.
Please note that the price generally does not cover damaged tyres, windows and lost keys, and obviously you have to pay your own gasoline (after the first tank), speed ticket, parking fees, etc.
2. Double Check The Payment Method
Nowadays, a lot of car rental brokers are operating their business online. I believe this is a win-win situation: because of the lower operating cost they are able to provide the service with a considerably lower price.
Also, because of the large volume, they are able to negotiate with the largest car rental operators for a good price, so I would highly recommend that you pick one of these online car rental brokers to reserve a car before your trip.
A typical payment method is credit card -- but please have your Visa or Mastercard ready because other credit cards may not be as common in Spain. If you prefer alternative payment method such as cash or debit card, you might be able to pull it off but you should double check before your arrival in Spain.
3. Book Early For Discounted Price
All car hire service providers encourage an early booking because it will be much easier to arrange the logistics on their side. To give customers the incentive to reserve the car in advance, they generally give discounts (e.g. 3-6%), possible car upgrade together with no cancellation fee and the ability to amend the booking details online.
In other words, there is nothing to lose to book early, so why not?
4. Check Out Airfare and Hotel Packages
There are a number of car rental companies in Spain that provide a bundle offer of car rental + airfare + hotel at an attractive price. Please take the time to check out the various car hire companies online.
5. Plan Ahead If You Have Special Requests
By special requests, I refer to the need to hire a 7-9 seat SUV or a GPS system, because they are not always available especially during peak season such as the summer holidays.
6. Are Your Old Enough To Hire A Car In Spain?
While the legal driving age could be 16 or 18 in your home country, the car providers may only let you drive if you are over 21-23 years old (a range, because it depends on individual car provider) with 2 years of driving experience.
7. Last But Not Least... Some Useful Information
- Hiring cost per day: It costs around 10 - 30 Euro per day to hire a car in Spain -- big cities cost the least while remote towns, villages and islands cost the most.
- Fuel cost per tank: it depends on the car model and the gasoline price movement, but typically a full rank costs 50-100 Euro.
- If you plan to drive outside of Spain to neighboring countries e.g. France, I'd recommend that you check with the car hire company first, because some don't allow this while others actually encourage you to do so with incentives (e.g. free GPS rental).
Have a wonderful time in Spain. Enjoy your trip!