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Explore the backroads of Germany via rental car

Gemut.com is the best option for car rental in Germany. We are a family-run company emphasizing low rates and knowledgeable customer service—before, during and after your trip. When you call us, you talk to a live human being who has been in the rental business for many years and can steer you away from car rental pitfalls and dangers. We’ll book your car rental in Germany with a major rental company at the lowest rates available, then provide 24/7 third-party in-Europe support and, if required, post-rental billing assistance.

There are several reasons to choose Germany as a base for touring Europe in a rental car. It’s central, of course, and has a great highway system, but the best reason may be cost.

Car Rental Rates in Germany

For several years, car rental rates in Germany have consistently been the lowest of any European country. In 2019, a midsize sedan could be rented for a week for a little as $160, including the 19% value added tax. France, Austria, Holland, Belgium, and especially Switzerland and Italy, are substantially higher.

For “outside the box” auto travelers, a quick look at a map can sometimes save important dollars. For example, why rent an intermediate sedan, such as a VW Passat or similar, in Salzburg, Austria, for around $325, when the same car is less than half the price, at around $160, just 10 minutes across the border, in Freilassing, Germany?

A longer rental, say 14 days, may even warrant a bit more of a detour. Instead of paying about $570 for an intermediate sedan at the Zürich Airport, it could be worth the 90-minintue train ride to Konstanz, Germany, where the same intermediate car is $240 for two weeks.

Germany’s car rental fleets probably offer Europe’s widest selection of vehicles; Mercedes, Audi, BMW, Volkswagen, Porsche, Opel and Ford all have factories in the country and are prominently featured in the rental fleets of the major companies.

The customer whose heart is set on driving a Mercedes, Audi or BMW has a much better chance of getting one of those brands in Germany than in any other European country. Rent in France and you're likely to drive away in a Renault, Citroen or Peugeot; in Italy Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Lancia dominate. (Always remember: rental companies book by category and will not guarantee a specific make or model.)

In late 2019, a luxury category sedan (Mercedes E-Class, BMW 5 Series, Audi A6) could be had for less than $300 per week in Germany. The same category car was about $400 in Paris and London, and over $500 in Rome.

And, of course, if you want to drive a high-end sports car 125 to 150 mph on the Autobahn, Germany is place to do it. Every year we book the Porsche 911 for a handful of customers. Rates range from about $350 to $450 per day, depending on length of rental and pickup locations.

Eastern European Car Travel

For travelers who plan to drive into Eastern Europe, Germany offers the best selection of vehicles allowed to cross the borders that once defined the Iron Curtain. In fact, for travel deep into the East, to such countries as Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Bosnia, Serbia and a few others, Germany is the only Western European country from which such a rental car itinerary is even possible.

Finally, Germany is a great place to explore by automobile; it offers a vast network of scenic, beautifully-maintained country roads, its drivers are skillful and predictable, and, of course, the adventurous traveler looking for some really fast motoring will find it on the Autobahn.

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“We rented a car for a week in Germany through Gemut.com. Bob Bestor and his crew are nothing short of fantastic! Not only did I get a rate that was 30% less than what I could get from other vendors but also got tremendous support is dealing with an overcharge from Avis we found on our CC after returning. Bob provided great counsel on the best way to handle the claim and made sure we understood all the deadlines for recovering the erroneous charges. We will definitely use Gemut for our Europe rentals in the future.”Posted by S. P. on Rick Steves’ Graffiti Wall.

Economy Sedan Category: The economy category offers two and four-door models and virtually none have automatic transmission. This category is fine for one or two persons with luggage, but don't expect much performance on the Autobahn. We doubt you'll be comfortable at much over 80 mph. Typical cars at the VW Polo, Opel Corsa, and Ford Fiesta.

Compact Sedan Category: We recommend this four-door category for two or three persons plus luggage. These vehicles are OK on the Autobahn to about 95 mph. For an additional cost increase you can book a compact with automatic transmission. Typical cars: VW Golf, Opel Astra, Ford Focus.

Intermediate Sedan Category: Unless the occupants travel with very large suitcases, these cars will accommodate four persons and luggage and are stable on the Autobahn at 100 to 105 mph. Automatics available at a 25% to 50% premium. Typical cars: VW Passat, Ford Mondeo, Skoda Octavia, Peugeot 407.

Fullsize Sedan Category: Rarely are the cars in this category larger than those in the intermediate category, though sometimes they are nearly double the price. Cars in the fullsize category are just more desirable brands such as Mercedes, BMW or Volvo. The three-series BMW, for example, lacks trunk space and is not suitable for four persons and luggage. The C-Class Mercedes is also considered by Germany rental car companies as a fullsize vehicle but its overall dimensions are slightly smaller than the intermediate VW Passat. This category is likely to include factory-installed GPS in the basic price. With these cars the driver can begin to live in the left lane and be fairly comfortable up to about 110 mph.

Luxury/Premium Categories: If you're looking for top German luxury cars—BMW (five and seven series), Mercedes (E-Class and S-Class) and Audi (A6 and A8)—these the categories for you. For those brave enough, some of these cars can loaf along at speeds of 125 mph...and more. At the rental counter you will probably be required to show two major credit cards and it's also possible that your credit card will not cover for CDW and theft insurance. None of these vehicles will be allowed to travel in eastern countries and probably not in Italy as well. It it also likely that S-Class Mercedes, the seven-series BMW, and the Audi A8 will not be allowed out of Germany.

Station Wagon Categories: Wagons come in compact, intermediate, fullsize, premium and luxury categories. Generally speaking they provide more luggage space but not more passenger room than a corresponding category sedan. It very difficult—and expensive—to find station wagons with automatic transmission

Van Category: Two types of minivan are commonly available in Germany: a seven-passenger fullsize van such as the VW Multivan and the nine-passenger standard van such as the VW Caravelle. Rarely does either come with automatic transmission. We don't recommend more than five passengers and luggage for the fullsize van, or more than six or, at a stretch, seven passengers for the standard van. Both vehicles are short of luggage space. Be aware that the fine print of most credit card insurance programs excludes the standard van. An exception is American Express's Premium coverage which costs an extra $20 to $25, depending on the cardholder's state of residence. Suggested reading: Renting a Van in Europe

Intermediate Special Category: The vehicles in this category are the so-called "crossovers" which combine van, SUV, and station wagon elements. The two most commonly found in German rental fleets are the VW Touran and the Opel Zafira. Though both are sold new with seven seats, that configuration is almost never available as a rental in Germany. The same goes for automatic transmission. In the five-passenger configuration there is a bit more luggage room than in an intermediate wagon. These vehicles are fine for four passengers but not more, unless the fifth is a child.

Generally speaking there are no one-way fees for rental cars picked up and returned within Germany. The lone exception (so far) is Hertz, which charges 25 euros to drop at a different city than the pick-up location. For example, with Hertz, if you pick-up the car at the Frankfurt Airport and want to drop it at the Munich airport, you’ll pay the €25. Hertz also charges a one-way fee of €9 if the car is picked up at one location and returned to a different location within the same city.

Avis* rental agreements in Germany call for a €30 fee on rental cars returned at a location other than the one “agreed upon” at the time of rental. In other words, if your contract calls for Frankfurt Airport pick-up and Munich Airport drop-off and, once the rental in underway, you decide to drop it at a Munich downtown office instead of the airport, the €30 charge will be assessed.

Of course, if you want to start a rental in Germany and end it in another country you’ll pay an international one-way fee. Such charges range from around $100 to more than $4,000, depending on the destination city and country.

*Those who book directly with Avis will be charged about $25 for a domestic one-way in Germany. This fee is waived for our customers, however.

Book your rental car in Europe with Gemütlichkeit's travel department and get the best rates, personalized, knowledgeable service and our unique at-the-rental-counter safety net that ensures our customers get what they are promised. We book with all the major companies in more than 35 countries. If you have questions about rentals in Europe, or simply prefer to deal in-person, phone us at 800-521-6722 or click for a written quote.

It is not necessary to have an International Driving Permit (IDP) when renting a car in Germany but all rental companies recommend that you have one. They are available for about $15 at AAA and American Auto Club offices, the only only authorized issuers in the U.S. They can be purchased online but usually at highly inflated prices. The IDP supplements but does not replace your valid home driver's license which you must have to rent a car anywhere in Europe.

There is no upper age limit on rental car drivers in Germany. A valid license from your country of origin is necessary, however. Minimum driving age is 19. Drivers under 23 are often required to purchase extra insurance.