Planning on hiring a car in 2024? The team at put this guide together to ensure you know your rights when hiring a car in 2024!

Check the vehicle and take photos of damage

To avoid any unfair damage charges, we recommend you inspect your hire car thoroughly at pick up and take pictures of any existing damage on the vehicle. An April 2023 Opinium Survey* we commissioned found that one in three (34%) of hire car drivers found damage on a hire car which was not highlighted on the checkout sheet.

Why not download our free travel app called ‘iCarhire’? The app helps users take detailed photos of the rental car at pick-up and drop-off, which can be stored within the app and used as evidence in the event of a dispute or claim. These can also be filed under a specific journey name, and then broken down into before and after the rental period, which makes it simpler when referencing at a later date.

Excess waiver insurance

When picking up a hire car, the rental company will often try to sell you a range of extra products and services on top of the initial rental cost. The most expensive of these is excess waiver protection which protects the hirer from having to pay the excess if the hire car is damaged or stolen, even if it's not their fault, which could cost as much as £2,000.

Buying this before you travel, from a specialist insurance company like, usually costs a lot less, covering damage, theft and tyres and windscreen. If you wait until you pick up the car to purchase protection, you will have no choice but to buy the rental company’s excess waiver protection, which can cost on average around £30** per day, adding £213** to a week's rental according to a study of car hire costs in 12 countries in 2023.

If you choose to buy the rental company’s excess waiver protection policies, you will usually need to leave the excess amount on a credit card. You will still need to do this if you have an independent car hire excess protection policy from a specialist insurance provider, like

Pay by credit card

We recommend that you use a credit card for both booking and deposit, as it may be possible to claim via the card provider under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. This means the credit card provider will protect purchases over £100 (and less than £30,000) and you could get you money back if there is a problem.

Fourteen day rule

In the event you need to contest a damage claim made by a rental company, you should query it directly with the rental company within fourteen days. If a satisfactory outcome is not reached, complaints can be directed to the BVRLA in the UK, whose members are expected to adhere to its mandatory Codes of Conduct, or the European Car Rental Conciliation Service (ECRCS), which offers a free service to help with unresolved complaints.

The ECRCS’ member companies are bound by the decision reached by the conciliation service and include Avis, Alamo, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, National Car Rental, Sixt, Firefly, and Enterprise. It will investigate whether one of its members has breached its code of practice, which includes billing, vehicle condition, and before and after inspections. It’s important to note that the service provided by the ECRCS is only available if using a car rental company that has subscribed to the scheme. Unfortunately, there is no equivalent body in the US.

Additionally, The UK International Consumer Centre (UKICC) provides free advice for consumers who have problems when buying goods and services from outside of the UK. The UKICC also works with the European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net), which has a free service to help resolve disputes.

Hiring a car is very convenient and practical when travelling, and you will find in most cases car hire is a great experience. However, knowing your rights is essential, preventing you from being taken for a ride!

*Opinium online survey with 1,000 adults who have hired a car in the UK or abroad took place between 6 – 12 April 2023.
** surveyed the cost to hire a medium company car in 12 countries (Australia, Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, UK and the USA) for a week, 29 July – 5 August 2023, from six rental companies (Sixt, Hertz, Avis, Budget, Enterprise and Europcar). Rental companies often sell two excess waiver protection policies: super damage excess protection waiver (costing £163) and tyre and windscreen excess protection waiver (costing £50), a combined average total of £213 a week.

Disclaimer: All prices contained in this article were correct on the original date of publication. Prices may change over time, so for current prices, please get a quote.