This week, my dad and I went to collect a rental car in Benidorm. My dad had rented the car online through Centauro, a Spanish rental car company he’s used before. After using a few tips he’s learned over the years, he got a rental car deal through Centauro so cheap he wishes he was staying in Spain longer. Getting the best and cheapest deal on a rental car in Spain, just like my dad, is quite easy. You just need to know these few rental car tips.
Book on the Internet – Only a few years ago when traveling in Spain, my parents would rent a car by finding a car rental service close to their hotel and picking out what they wanted. Needless to say, only five years ago, my father spent three times more on hiring a car than he did yesterday, and that’s because, back then, he didn’t use the internet much.
In Spain, with almost every rental car company, if you book online, you get a rate much cheaper than you can get at the car rental company’s office. At Centauro, the Spanish car company my father rented through, we were told when we picked up the car, if my father had booked it with a phone call to the office or as a walk-in, it would have cost him 30% more than it did on the internet. In fact, while we were waiting for the keys to our rental car, the clerk answered the phone and immediately told the prospective customer calling, “Of course, I can give you a quote right now, but if you want a cheap rate, our rates are 30% cheaper on the internet. If you have internet access, go to our website and book there.”
Don’t Always Book at an Office Near Your Hotel – One thing my father has learned over the years when it comes to getting the best deal on a rental car in Spain, sometimes, renting a car near the hotel you’re staying in isn’t always the best idea.
We’re currently staying in Albir on the Costa Blanca in Spain. To rent a car in Albir was 5 euros a day ($7) more than in the closest town, Benidorm. Considering we wanted to rent a car for two weeks and that Benidorm is a 20 minute bus ride away, for a bus fare of only 1 euro 25 cents ($1.75), it was far cheaper for my dad and I to rent the car through the same company he always does, but in Benidorm. All it cost us, was twenty minutes of our time on the bus and 2 euros 50 cents (3.50) in bus fare. But, on the two week rental, it saved my father 70 euros ($99). Well worth it, I think.
Book the Smallest Car Possible – Like any country, the smaller car you rent the cheaper the weekly rate. In Spain like all of Europe, unlike Americans, Spaniards don’t drive large cars, so just about any car you rent in Spain will be much smaller than anything you’re used to in America.
That’s why, if you’re going to end up paying an extra 5 euros ($7) a day, for a Volkswagen Golf, it makes no sense to rent that when you can get a Ford Titanium for a much lower rate yet, size-wise, it’s really not that much smaller.
Don’t forget too, the price of gas in Spain is almost three times more expensive than in the US, so you certainly don’t want to be driving a large car and spending all your vacation spending money filling up the tank.
Be a Frequent Customer – At Centauro, the Spanish rental company my father usually uses, he already received a 30% discount on the usual weekly rate because he booked on the internet. But, with only one more car rental, he will get an additional 20% discount as, once you’ve rented nine times through Centauro, your tenth rental and every one after gets an extra 20% off.
If you travel a lot in Spain, find a Spanish rental car company you like and that offers good deals for frequent customers. Then, unless their rates suddenly go through the roof, stick to it. Even if it’s a few euros higher than other companies per rental, once you hit that magic ninth rental, every one after that will have an additional discount.
Overall, if you shop around and follow these quick tips, renting a car in Spain can be cheap, easy and with better deals than in the US or other places in Europe. My father finally got a rental of a brand new Volkswagen Polo with less than 100 kilometers on the speedometer. For two weeks, he only paid 133 euros ($186), with no extra charges or hidden fees. A rate so cheap, if we were staying in Spain longer he’d probably keep renting it.