European rental car rates predicted to rise tomorrow, March 1. Best one-week deals today: 7-passenger van in Germany, $468; fullsize Mercedes C-Class, or similar, with GPS and automatic, $311; compact, 4-door VW Golf or similar, $188. These prices all include 19% VAT. In France, a Golf with automatic is $244 and a 7-passenger van is $435. All these prices are way down from a year ago. To book before the end of the month call 800-521-6722...you can always cancel.

PorscheLuxury car rental in Germany starts at the Mercedes E-Class, the BMW-5 Series, and the Audi A-6 level. Since bookings are made by category, not make or model, you can't guarantee what car you'll actually wind up driving but it's relatively certain it will be one of these three. All are automatics and all come with GPS in the price. With tax, these cars are currently in the $650 to $680 per week range, including tax. Make sure your credit card will cover CDW and theft on these vehicles. If not, investigate Amex's Premium Car Rental Protection ($18-$25 per rental, depending on your state of residence). The policy provides primary coverage; in other words it pays regardless of whether you have other insurance. There are a few other perks, as well. Unfortunately, because of state insurance regulations, Amex is forbidden from selling this policy in Georgia, New Hampshire, Idaho, Pennsylvania, Iowa and Oklahoma.

Those who really want to go in style can move up to the Audi A8, Mercedes S-Class and the BMW 7-Series. These cars are almost certainly excluded from collision and theft insurance by Visa and MasterCard, so look to the Amex Premium plan for coverage. Figure on paying more than $1000 per week with tax, and having to display two major credit cards at the time of rental...one of which must be Gold or higher.

Fast car buffs who want to go 150 mph on the Autobahn can do so in a Porsche Panamera for just under $3,000 per week including tax. There is a limit of 200 kilometers per day, with a €1/km fee after that.

Don't even think about driving any of these cars into former eastern bloc countries (Czech Republic, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, etc.) or Italy. The Porsche can only be driven into Austria and Switzerland, but remember there are speed limits on the Autobahn in those countries.

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European rental car prices have been on the rise since mid-January and are almost certain to continue in the upward direction. By far the best deal in Germany is our guaranteed intermediate to fullsize upgrade with Avis. In the full-size category is very likely you will get a Mercedes C-Class. Plus with that category comes free GPS. The one-week price with tax is $203 through the end of March and $262 for rentals after that date. Get a quote.

This story perfectly illustrates a very important reason you should book your European rental car through us.

Last week, we received an email from our customer "Jack" saying his rental had gone very well except that he had been 2.5 hours late in returning the car and had just gotten a notice from the supplier in Italy (one of the top three rental companies in Europe) of a $290 charge for an extra day of rental.

The rental voucher we issued to Jack through Auto Europe prior to his trip to Italy called for a daily rate of $51, including all taxes and insurance. He assumed that if he was a couple of hours late the most he could be charged would be one full day...at his current daily rate of $51. Sorry. Big, nasty surprise.

The supplier took the position that the voucher covered only the 17-day rental and the extra 2.5 hours constituted an 18th day to which the voucher did not apply. For that added day, they imposed their local rate...a price they would charge to a customer who walked up to the counter to rent a car for a single day.

Jack turned to us for help. We took his case to Auto Europe who told us the supplier was within their contractual right to charge the local rate as the 18th day was outside the voucher dates. However, at our request they agreed to take Jack's case to the supplier who agreed to accept Auto Europe's proposal for a new 18-day voucher at the original daily rate. The supplier then refunded Jack's $290. The charge for the extra 2.5 hours thus became $51, not $290.

Why would the supplier give back $239 when it didn't have to? Because the supplier's best customer asked them to. And why would Auto Europe ask the supplier to return money that, by contract, they had the right to keep? Because one of their top customers for 17 years, Gemut.com, requested they do so.

So remember, when you're a Gemut.com customer, we've got your back. When you book with us, it's not just you alone vs the rental company; you have strong, influential advocates on your team, Gemut.com and Auto Europe.

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