Rental Car Process In Spain
Hopefully this post provides some insight into the overall rental car process in Spain. For anyone thinking about driving through Spain and surrounds, I strongly recommend it!
Firstly, the idea to rent a car in Spain was kind of last-minute – and it still came off pretty well.
When we booked online (around May 20, 2017), we were in Granada and still planning to travel and see lots of the southern coast of Spain. Then maybe even venture into Morocco (didn’t end up happening), then tour through Portugal and then come through northern Spain. Pretty ambitious given we only had 4 weeks before we had already booked a flight back to London….from Paris!
So, I’m scouring comparison sites like easyCar and Auto Europe for the cheapest, nastiest, mini-European vehicle that we can rent for 3 weeks. Repeatedly without fail the best results are Goldcar, Goldcar, Goldcar on every search. However, a Spanish friend from Melbourne had strongly suggested only to use reputable hire companies and avoid Goldcar as much as possible, given their well-documented history of scams and extra sneaky charges.
Eventually, we book online directly with Hertz and we settle for whatever mini Euro model they have available (more to come on this later).
Pick-up: Malaga Airport, Wednesday May 24, 1pm
Drop-off: Bilbao Airport, Tuesday June 13, 1pm
That’s almost 3 weeks of rental and so the online estimate comes to 427.90 EUR. This isn’t charged yet as this is only a pre-booking. Also worth noting is the ‘SuperCover’, Hertz’s full insurance cover, is charged at 192.27 EUR per week with a maximum of about 300 EUR (I can’t recall the exact maximum). Don’t book the insurance online because well, you can’t! You can only choose to add this on at the pick-up location.
Malaga Airport – Rental Office
So, we arrive to the pick-up office and the lady confirms that we are going to Bilbao, I answer her “yes, we want to drive through Portugal as well and north of Spa…”, and she interrupts with a thick Spanish accent and lots of enthusiastic gestures, “but you have a mini car, thats very uncomfortable to drive in the country, no? Let me find you something bigger!” (Again, more on this later).
First we add the insurance cover for a total of 264.83 EUR (I guess this might be their maximum amount). The Hertz staff total the charges and add-on a ‘fuel charge’ to the holding amount, as if assuming you will return the car not full. The lady however explains that the final invoice amount is only charged upon return.
Hertz pre-authorise 822 EUR (roughly about $1,232 AUD) but this charge disappears after about 4 days.
Keys handed over. Walk to the parking bay. Moment of truth. Our nice, mini Euro vehicle becomes a black behemoth – the Opel Mokka. It might sound more intimidating if it didn’t sound like a coffee…..
The Hertz customer service lady had the best of intentions because she heard we wanted to see lots of Spain. Also to do lots of cross-country driving, not just city driving. My first thought was, ‘I’ve been walking around Spanish cities for a week now…how the f**k am I gonna drive this car in those streets???!!!’
In all honesty, despite one highly-stressful parking fiasco in Sevilla, the free upgrade by Hertz to the Opel Mokka was much appreciated after 3 weeks! This car is kind of the European equivalent of what Australians might know as the Holden Captiva. Diesel engine, all the bells and whistles plus a very bubbly, female Spanish voice to guide our GPS navigation!
I’ll post more details of the actual driving stories in Pros v Cons of Driving in Spain and Portugal. I just want to round out this post with the vehicle return info…
We were returning the car to Bilbao Airport on Tuesday June 13th. However, we had mistakenly booked our next onward bus from Bilbao on Monday June 12th (travel fatigue I guess!). I didn’t foresee an earlier return as a problem. However, one Hertz T & C page online said they reserve the right to charge €8 for an early return. Quite the opposite, the service desk lady returned about €21 on the invoice for the unused hire day!
Also, we decided to fill the car near the airport to avoid the €65.83 Fuel Purchase Option in the case of a ‘non-full return’.
So, final invoice is €748.99, which for 3 weeks of Spanish / Portuguese adventure and transport we were quite happy to pay!
Also for a full breakdown of our car hire costs, read my post on Cost Comparison: Transport v Car.
For checking Hertz rental prices or booking, just follow this link to Hertz.
Tip #1: If you’re looking for car rental office in Spain, look for the sign alquiler de coches. Malaga Airport is also a maze of car parking, terminals and elevators. There are also 2 different sets of car rental offices. One for newly-arrived passengers and another for the return of vehicles. The latter office is the one you would need and much harder to find! Be adventurous and ask the helpful airport staff!
Hope you enjoyed my take on the rental car process in Spain. Please ask any questions you have or post feedback in the comments!
Rental Car Process In Spain