What could be simpler than hiring a car? You show up, hand over some money and they give you a key. It’s almost too good to be true, but the point is, it can get complicated if you don’t think it through in advance.
Whether you’re looking for affordable car hire in Maidenhead or anywhere else in the UK, there is one thing that you should check before you even do a Google search or call companies like fairview-hire. Take a look and make sure your driving licence is in date? It’s one of those things that last so long you can forget all about them.
So check it out. If this is a spur of the moment idea and for one reason or another you have to hire something for a few days but your licence needs renewing, you’re not going to have time to do it. In that case, maybe you can get someone else to hire the car, with you on there as another driver.
Next up – insurance. It’s worth checking the small print of your credit card, because sometimes car hire is included, and you don’t want to take the hire company’s insurance if you’re already covered.
If all your paperwork is in order, the hiring process should be a breeze and you’ll be heading off to go about your business in no time.
One more thing to think about, which can save you time and money, is who else but you can drive. If you need to have some flexibility as regards who’s on duty and who’s not, you will need to work this out in advance. Similarly, if you’re going to be making a long trip and want to share the load, having someone else on the paperwork who can take over at times can be important. Having said that, if you’re going to be charged extra for additional drivers, you may want to keep them to a minimum.
Where Should You Pick up a Car?
The obvious answer is somewhere convenient, but here’s a tip: although airports usually have a hire car company or two in the terminal, the company is charged a fee by the airport, which they pass on to the customer, so it may be more expensive than picking a car up from a non-airport site. If you’re flying in, of course, you will probably accept a slightly higher price in exchange for the convenience.
While we’re on the subject of flying in, if you don’t have a UK driving licence, a non-UK one will probably be okay, but it’s worth asking the question in advance. All the authorities are really interested in is that someone, somewhere has deemed you capable of driving.
What Category Do You Want?
There is a lot of jargon involved in vehicle models these days, so you may want to do a bit of research if you’re not really a car buff. That way, when people start throwing acronyms at you, you might understand what they’re saying.
Some people’s automotive vocabulary is stuck in a time warp where there are only saloons, hatchbacks and estate cars, plus the fact that Americans (and therefore much of the English-speaking world) have different names for all sorts of things. To them it’s sedans and station wagons, not to mention the fact that they talk about renting cars rather than hiring them.
If you are not clued up on the technical terms, then welcome to a world that includes SUVs (sports utility vehicles – often a bit bigger than what used to be called simply a car, and with the occupants sitting higher off the road, with an implied element of sporty, off-roady performance), crossovers (AKA crossover SUVs or even CUVs – these are more SUVish than standard SUVs, although there is no commonly agreed definition of either term.
Then there are coupés, which are sporty two-door numbers you might reasonably call sports cars, and roadsters (extra sporty and powerful, possibly luxurious)
And compact means small. Subcompact may mean very small or it may mean a small coupé.
The list is a long one, so good luck.
In addition to the shape and size definers, there are airbags, which most people understand, ABS (antilock braking system – just nod approvingly) and all the other things that are important to enthusiasts but the rest of the world takes for granted.
If you turn up to hire a car out of the blue, you will have to accept what the company happens to have, but if you can give them a day or two’s notice, you might be able to get something you are really happy with. The minimum requirement is something that will do the job, so it has to be physically big enough to accommodate however many passengers you’re going to have, plus maybe some space for a bit of cargo or luggage. It all depends on the purpose for which you’re taking a temporary vehicle.
It can be an eye-opener, driving a model that you had never considered before. Even unfashionable ones that (you think) you wouldn’t want to own can turn out to be perfectly okay and not noticeably different from more popular, more respected equivalents. The world is full of motor manufacturers and they all want to be well thought of.
It sometimes happens that a cheap model will be launched which sells well because of the low price, but word soon gets around that it’s a flimsy piece of tin, and the manufacturer will rethink it, so that a second generation is released under the same name but looking a little better, performing better and feeling better, because they’ve installed better seats with more support.
While you are a customer, not a guinea pig, you may just find yourself pleasantly surprised so don’t be shy in trying a new model that you’ve never driven before. That said; many people are quite choosy about cars, though, and if you are one of them, booking a model you’re familiar with in advance is a good idea.