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The Essential Guide to hiring a car in Spain

These are a few things you should know before you hire a car in Spain:

What’s included in the price and what ISN’T

You can come across some amazing-looking prices but when you look at the detail you find that they don’t include unlimited mileage, local taxes or insurances.

You may not be doing much driving, in which case unlimited mileage may be unnecessary. But insurances are a must and do add up. We usually found these cheap-looking prices were really not cheap at all and could be regarded as a pretty underhand and misleading tactic.

Make sure all of these are included in the rental:

  • Third party insurance
  • Airport fees
  • Breakdown cover
  • All local surcharges
  • Loss/collision damage waiver
  • Unlimited mileage

Air-conditioning is important

It may sound obvious but DO check that the cheap price you have found applies to a car with air-con. Temperatures in the summer can often be in the 30s, sometimes the 40s (over 100°F).

Book ahead

Don’t just arrive at the airport in Spain and go to the car hire desks. They are often incredibly busy and chaotic with long queues and stressed staff. It is far better to have a reservation with a reference number so at least you know they will have a car waiting, and if they don’t have your requested car they will have to upgrade you for free. You also tend to get a better deal by booking ahead.

Don’t penny-pinch

Some of the models in Spain differ from those in Northern Europe. We had an experience where the boot was far smaller than the same model of car we owned in the UK. Do consider the large amounts of luggage you will have and maybe go for the next size up and just treat yourself rather than travelling round on your holiday like a sardine. The price difference is usually small.

Child seats

You can hire these as an extra for about €3 a day. Not only can this add up, it can happen that the message doesn’t reach the local office in Spain and so it can often be a no-hassle option to take your own rather than getting angry when all you want to do after a stressful flight is to get your car and go. You simply check it in at the airport with your luggage so it isn’t really much trouble to do this.

Check everything!

When you are at the pick-up point you must check that everything matches your voucher. When you booked over the internet or at a travel agent, you may have requested certain things such as extra drivers and maybe the message didn’t get through. Even check you are getting the right sort of car you asked for! Do all of this before you sign all the paperwork. Make sure you take any print-outs you have so that if there are any problems you have it all in writing.

Check the car for damage

When you’ve got to the car you naturally just want to get going but make sure the car hire company acknowledge any bumps and scrapes on the car. If you don’t you may find that when you return the car they may blame (and charge) you.


Book a diesel car as it will be much cheaper to run.


Most insurance policies have an excess, which means that if you have an accident you pay an amount (say €500) and they cover the rest. Be aware of how much the excess is because sometimes they can be very high. You may want to consider paying a small bit extra to make sure you are not liable for anything, especially as you are driving in a foreign country where you may not always fully understand the road rules.

Copyright © Mark Eastwood

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