When it comes to hiring a car on holiday (or business trip for that matter), there are two main options to consider:

“On-Airport”, where you collect the car from the airport itself, e.g. this will typically involve you queuing up at the car rental desk once you exit the airport’s baggage area before being escorted to your rental car where your vehicle will be stationed in a car park at the Terminal itself, or

“Off-Airport”, where your vehicle is located away from the airport terminal, often a short car or bus ride away.

There are a few reasons you may choose the latter option, with a saving on the cost of the rental being the most likely. But like any money-saving scenario, there are potential pitfalls to be aware of. Here are the key things to consider:

  • Check before you book – If you’re booking your rental vehicle using an online comparison website they will usually inform you whether the company are On-Airport or Off-Airport. However, what they may not tell you is how FAR away from the airport (distance-wise) they are and how you might get there. It may be worth calling them direct to find out exactly what’s involved once you land at your destination to plan ahead.
  • Location of vehicle – In the majority of cases, Off-Airport car rental companies offer a shuttle bus to get you to your rental vehicle from the airport terminal, but if it’s very busy, some companies suggest the “operator” of the vehicle hops on the bus and return to airport for the rest of their group. This means if you’re travelling with family members, you will have to make a quick executive decision to leave them and have them wait at the airport until you return. Not ideal! If the location is quite a distance from the airport, any saving you may have gained on cost, will quickly erode in the time it has taken from your precious trip.
  • It may take a while – If you need to be somewhere in a hurry after you arrive, going off-airport may not be the best option. As mentioned above, you may have to wait for a shuttle bus to arrive before being driven to the car rental location. You will then have to queue up at the rental office to fill in the paperwork and collect your vehicle. A small office may have fewer staff on duty which could increase the delay. Getting public transport can also be time-consuming, not to mention stressful in a city you’re not familiar with.
  • Luggage – Some small rental offices may not allow you to bring your luggage inside with you, asking you to leave it outside if it’s busy. If you’re travelling alone this is a scenario you would be reluctant to encounter, but again, not ideal for a family with small children.

In summary, going Off-Airport will save you money on your booking but does remove the conveniences of collecting the car at the airport itself. If the issues we’ve highlighted above aren’t of significance to you then it’s a perfectly viable option. On the other hand, if you’re travelling with family members and time is of the essence, then remaining On-Airport is your best option. Be aware that if you happen to book a trip at relatively short notice, you may be forced to take the Off-Airport option if no cars are available On-Airport.

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.