A 16-country study of car hire costs worldwide reveals that Turkey and the USA are the cheapest places to hire a car this summer, and Italy and Portugal are the most expensive.

Travellers will be paying on average £302 to rent a compact family car (e.g. a VW Golf) for a week this summer (28 July - 4 August 2018), across all destinations. Although, once 'extras' are added at the rental desk, including super damage waiver, super theft waiver, tyre and windscreen cover, an extra driver, a sat nav and a child's seat, the price doubles to £626

Italy is revealed to be the most expensive country to hire a car, with drivers paying on average £873 to hire a compact family car with the extras outlined above. This is £369 for the week’s rental, as well as £186 super damage waiver, £58 super theft waiver, £16 tyre and windscreen cover, £56 an extra driver, £94 for a sat nav and £94 for a child’s car seat, taking the final price to £873.

To find the best value car rental destinations, iCarhireinsurance.com, the leading provider of stand-alone car hire excess insurance, looked at the cost of a week’s basic hire with six extras payable on arrival (i.e., super damage waiver, super theft waiver, tyre and windscreen excess waiver, an additional driver, a child's car seat and a sat nav) as well as the price of a tank of petrol (40 litres) in 16 countries (Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, The Netherlands, UK, and the USA). Six rental companies' costs were compared, Sixt, Hertz, Avis, Budget, Enterprise and Europcar. (Please see the results in the table below).

Petrol costs* vary widely across the nations. The cheapest place to fill up is in Florida where a full tank of petrol costs only £22, half the price of European petrol prices, which range from £47 in Spain, to £51 in the UK to around £58 in the Netherlands and Italy. Other reasonable petrol destinations include Australia and Canada where a full tank costs around £35.

Turkey is the most reasonable destination overall, closely followed by the USA. The average cost of a week’s rental in Turkey (Dalaman) is £222 and the cost of extras including a tank of petrol is only £231. In the USA (Florida), the average cost of a week’s rental is £215 and the cost of extras including a tank of petrol is £258.

The average cost of the extras, across the survey, is £53 for a child's car seat (most expensive is £159 with Budget in Milan), £50 for an extra driver (most expensive is £108 in the USA with Enterprise) and £74 for a sat nav (most expensive is £147 with Avis in Geneva).

Excess waiver insurance is the most expensive extra cost at the rental desk. These policies protect drivers from the excess cost if their hire car is stolen or damaged which in this study average around £1,000 if a car is damaged. However, in Australia it can be as much as £2,000.

Rental companies often sell three excess policies: super damage waiver, super theft waiver and tyre and windscreen excess. These cost on average £107 for super damage waiver, £18 for super theft waiver and £24 for tyre and windscreen excess, a combined average total of £149. This is more than six times the cost of a car hire excess policy from a specialist provider, like iCarhireinsurance.com, which sells a week’s policy for £23.93, i.e., from £2.99 a day for European cover (£3.99 a day for worldwide excess cover, or USA and Canada cover from £5.99 a day), and this can be bought before leaving home. Annual policies are available from £39.99.

The most expensive price for excess waiver in the study was Italy with Hertz charging £376 for super damage waiver alone and in The Netherlands, Enterprise was found to charge over £200 for this waiver.

From the cheapest to the most expensive including the week’s basic hire, a tank of petrol (40 litres) and the six extras payable on arrival at the rental desk (i.e., super damage waiver, super theft waiver, tyre and windscreen excess waiver, an additional driver, a child's car seat and a sat nav), the 16 countries stack up as below:

  1. Turkey (pick up from Dalaman Airport) - total cost is £453
  2. USA (picking up from Orlando Airport, Florida) - total cost is £473
  3. Australia (pick up from Sydney Airport) – total cost is £507
  4. New Zealand (picking up from Queenstown) – total cost is £557
  5. The Netherlands (pick up from Amsterdam Airport) - total cost is £611
  6. Germany (pick up from Munich Airport) - total cost is £613
  7. Canada (pick up from Vancouver Airport ) – total cost is £646
  8. UK (pick up from London Heathrow) - total cost is £706
  9. Spain (pick up from Barcelona Airport) - total cost is £709
  10. Greece (pick up in Crete) - total cost is £721
  11. France (pick up from Nice Airport) – total cost is £721
  12. Ireland (pick up from Dublin Airport) - total cost is £730
  13. Croatia (pick up from Dubrovnik Airport) – total cost is £767
  14. Switzerland (pick up from Geneva Airport) – total cost is £799
  15. Portugal (pick up from Faro Airport) - total cost is £846
  16. Italy (pick up from Milan Airport) - total cost is £931

Table of costs to hire a medium, compact car from 28 July - 4 August 2018 in cost order from low to high.

16 Country table

Total (incl upgrades*) Car rental, super damage waiver, super theft waiver, tyre & windscreen excess waiver, extra driver, satnav, child’s car seat and 40 litres of petrol.

* Petrol costs sourced on 12 June 2018 from https://www.globalpetrolprices.com/gasoline_prices/. Prices converted from US Dollars to Sterling at 1 USD =0.748582.

For 40L of petrol – in order from cheapest to most expensive:

  1. USA - £16.47 ($22)
  2. AUSTRALIA - £33.83 ( $45.20)
  3. CANADA - £35.34 ($47.20)
  4. TURKEY - £41.63 ($55.60)
  5. SPAIN - £46.72 ($62.40)
  6. NEW ZEALAND - £48.81 ($65.20)
  7. CROATIA - £49.72 ($66.40)
  8. SWITZERLAND - £49.72 ($66.40)
  9. UK - £51.80 ($69.20)
  10. GERMANY - £52.10 ($69.60)
  11. IRELAND – £53 ($70.80)
  12. FRANCE – £54.80 ($73.20)
  13. PORTUGAL - £57 ($75.60)
  14. NETHERLANDS - £58.42 ($78)
  15. ITALY - £58.42 ($78)
  16. GREECE - £58.42 ($78)

Ernesto Suarez, founder and CEO of iCarhireinsurance.com said: Holiday-makers often forget to factor in the cost of car hire but as our annual survey shows, travellers are probably looking at between £200 to £400 for a week’s rental costs alone this summer. Drivers could also end up paying around the £500 mark with some companies, e.g., Sixt in Greece or Budget in Canada, if they don’t shop around or book early enough.

Headline grabbing low prices can also entice customers into booking a hire car without properly checking any extra costs that they might need, from child car seats and sat navs to paying for an extra driver. Excess waiver policies bought direct from the rental desk are also an own goal for car hire companies so it’s important to do your research in advance and buy a car hire excess insurance policy from a specialist insurance company, like iCarhireinsurance.com, before you leave. Otherwise, these extras costs can easily double or triple the original cost of the car hire and make that great deal perhaps not quite as good as you thought.

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.