The rental process has just begun. You now have a voucher with a confirmation number from the rental car supplier. Our booking number is in the upper left corner and the supplier's confirmation number is upper right. Print two copies, one for yourself, one for the rental company. Present one copy at the rental car counter.
Whether or not you get home without spending a lot more money for your rental car than you planned may depend on whether or not you read the full contents of both this website page and the voucher. Don't wait until one or two days before you travel. If the voucher has errors in dates, times, vehicles, etc., now is the time to correct them. Later, when rates change, it will very likely cost you more to revise the booking.
Guarantees the price for the basic rental and the items included in that price. However, you may be responsible for additional items not specified on the voucher. The voucher will tell you which mandatory extra charges are not included in the voucher price and are paid in Europe. These typically include, but are not limited to, local road/registration fees and, in some countries, premium station fees. Any extra equipment or services you may have ordered through us such as navigation devices, child seats, ski racks, winter tires, international or domestic one-way fees, will also be noted on the voucher. In addition, there are other optional charges for services you may order at the rental car counter. A typical example is the additional driver charge. Additional drivers almost always incur an extra charge ranging from about $5 to $25 per day, depending on company and country.
Rental Car Contract
The contract you sign at the rental counter is binding. In some cases, the rental agent in Europe, because of language difficulty or ignorance, may not verbally communicate all the charges called for in the contract. It is your responsibility to know what charges—beyond those specified in the voucher—are included in the contract you sign. The most common of these is insurance such as CDW (collision damage waiver) and theft insurance. Even though you may not want these coverages, once you sign a contract that includes them, no refund is possible. Once the rental is over, the only record of what happened at the rental counter, is the paperwork, your signed contract.
The contract will be in the local language, though some suppliers can provide a copy in English if requested.
Though we are happy to do so, once you have signed and accepted a rental contract that calls for improper charges, our ability to assist you is extremely limited. (Of course, any charges that exceed those enumerated in the voucher are fully refundable: for example, if your voucher specifies a 100 euro international one-way charge and you are charged 150 euros, you are protected by the voucher and we can quickly obtain a refund.)
The “Safety Net” Phone Line
Though we cannot be with you at the rental counter, your voucher contains a 24/7 toll-free help line phone number back to the U.S. If you have a problem with the any part of the rental process while in Europe, this is the number to call. You will speak to a live agent who, if needed, can contact the supplier on your behalf. You can also use the main number, 207-842-2000. Do not proceed with the rental if...
- You are not certain what extra charges—those not covered by the voucher—are in the contract.
- If you feel the car category you are being given is less than you booked and the supplier is non-responsive.
- If there is a problem with the vehicle and the supplier is non-responsive.
Call the 24/7 toll-free number for assistance. Some problems cannot be fixed once you leave the rental area.
The Toll-Free Numbers...
Most of Europe: 00-800-223-5555-5
Your Car Is Not Available
Airlines and hotels sometimes overbook. In rare instances, rental companies miscalculate the number of cars they will need at a certain location and will not be able to provide the category of car you booked (no company guarantees a specific make or model, the guarantee is by category only...compact, intermediate, etc.). In that case, they will provide a car from an equal or higher category. Be sure you are not being charged extra for this and, if you are relying on a credit card for CDW and theft insurance, be sure the offered vehicle is covered by that credit card’s insurance. Certain vans and more expensive cars are not covered by credit card insurance.
Unless the rental company requires it, do not pre-pay the first tank of fuel. Instead, return the car with a full tank. If the rental company has to fill the tank it could cost you as much $18 per gallon. Save all fuel receipts.
Here is a brief reminder list of things to do when picking up and returning a rental car in Europe:
Picking Up the Car
- Present written confirmation
- Provide the same credit card used to make the original booking
- Decline pre-paid fuel if possible
- Get summary of extra charges
- Read contract. Don’t sign if unsure
- Request contract copy in English
- If needed, request instruction for vehicle operation
- Inspect car, get damage acknowledged in writing
- Take photos of the car
Returning the Car
- Fill tank, keep receipt
- Return vehicle clean, inside and out. Rental companies can charge a fee for returned vehicles that require more than “normal” cleaning.
- Remove all personal gear
- Pay any charges with same credit card in local currency, not dollars
- Get copy of final invoice and contract
- Inspect car
- Take photos
If you plan to rely on your credit card for collision and theft insurance (not possible in Italy) be sure to decline the rental company's offer of insurance. Make sure you understand your credit card company’s rules for reimbursement of damage charges. It is also imperative that you pay for everything on the rental contract with the same credit card you used to originally book the car. I also strongly recommend you read about insurance starting on page 4 of our free booklet “What You Should Know About Renting a Car in Europe".
Please be aware that winter tires are not standard equipment on most rental cars in Europe. During the November-March period they are required in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Unless otherwise noted, in those three countries they are included in the base price shown on your voucher. For the most part, winter tires are not available from rental companies in France, Italy and Spain.
Print Your Voucher
I suggest you print two copies of the voucher, one for yourself and one for the car rental counter. Under General Terms note the toll-free help line from Europe. It is staffed 24/7 and can be used in the event something in the rental process is not to your satisfaction.
If you have any questions prior to departure, phone us at 800-521-6722. After departure use the number listed above.
Enjoy your trip.
For the Internet's best advice on European car rental, see our FREE special report “What You Should Know About Renting a Car in Europe.”
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