Car rental is quite expensive in Ireland as a rule, finding bargains is a challenge. It is invariably cheaper to book before you travel to Ireland, last minute car hire at the airport is exorbitantly expensive.
There is quite a lot of information in this article and though it’s a bit complicated in parts, it’s worth ploughing through, because car rental is a big part of the cost of any vacation in Ireland and the amounts you can save can be considerable.
First though, some general tips:
10 Tips for Saving on Car Rental in Ireland
1. Don’t rent a car in Dublin
If you are spending time in Dublin, do not rent a car for this period of time. Driving in Dublin is hell, parking is scarce and expensive, theft from cars is not uncommon and it would really be cheaper and more pleasant to use public transport or taxis. The chances are that if you have a rental car, you’ll just park it up while in Dublin anyway, a real waste of money.
2. Book in advance but not too far in advance
Renting on arrival is eye-wateringly expensive, so unless your trip was arranged at the absolute last minute book your car rental from home. The sweet spot for best prices seems to be at least a month in advance but not more than three months. Book too early and companies have not yet seen what customer demand and car supply are like or what their competitors are charging and they tend to keep prices high to cover themselves.
3. Waive CDW insurance
This is the insurance that rental companies sell you to cover accidental damage to your car. By waiving it and buying insurance elsewhere, you can save a lot of money. This is complex, so I’ve much more detailed information about it below.
4. Consider renting a smaller car
In many of the places you’ll drive roads will be narrow, maneuvering will have its challenges. So a smaller car won’t just save you money, it may well be a better choice.
5. Don’t rent an automatic
I know if you are accustomed to an automatic car this can be a biggie, but the savings are really quite significant and if you’ve ever driven a manual (or stick shift) consider doing so again while in Ireland.
6. Check both .ie and .com sites
Most international car hire companies (Hertz, Avis etc) have a dedicated Irish website (with a .ie extension) and an international site (with a .com extension). You’d imagine their quotes for car hire in Ireland would be about the same, but they are not. The difference can be quite dramatic, with the .com site usually (though not always) beating the .ie.
7. Save on child seat costs
It is illegal in Ireland for a child to travel in a car without being in an appropriate child seat. Rental companies can charge quite a lot for this, and their seats have quite a poor reputation for quality. You’ll both save money and be safer renting a seat from a specialist company. An excellent company providing not just child seats but other bulky equipment you might need is Stork Exchange.
8. Check the cost for extra drivers
If you want the flexibility of having more than one person insured to drive a rental car, check the cost of this in advance before deciding which quote is cheapest. Some companies charge a lot extra, some not so much and it varies according to the age/driving record of the additional driver. It is always very expensive to add an extra driver after you’ve arrived, so be sure to sort this out in advance.
9. Check your car very carefully before you accept it
Rental companies pretty much always charge for any damage done to a car, no matter now minor, but they don’t always fix the damage right away. Look over the care carefully for scratches, chips or any evidence of prior damage. If they are minor they won’t affect your enjoyment of the car, but take photographs of them and point them out to the agent to make sure you are not blamed (and charged) for them when you return the car. If there is a chipped windscreen turn the car down, in no time you could have a completely shattered one.
10. DoChara Special Deal at Dan Dooley Car Hire
Dan Dooley Car Hire is the largest Irish car hire company and one we highly recommend. They offer a much more personal service than the big multinationals, have good cars and rates that are extremely competitive on price.
They are also exceptional in the way they quote rates, quoting the all-in price up front – remember this when comparing their rates with some other providers who add on extras as you go through the check out process.
Finding Car hire Bargains in Ireland
While consolidators, where you can get quotes for multiple companies at once or who sometime resell car insureance, can seem to offer the best rates, you need to be very, very careful. Sometimes they achieve their low price by skimping on things like included insurance, mileage allowances or other items included in the price if you buy directly. So always check the small print carefully to ensure you are comparing like with like.
As a general rule, I’d recommend buying direct as the better option.
National Car Rental
Member’s of National’s Emerald Club will get discounts or upgrades and it may be worth your while joining before you travel.
Many airline’s frequent flyer programmes provide contract IDs that offer reductions on rental – ask about this if you are a member of such a programme.
These codes have resulted in savings of between $50 and $150 on weekly car hire, but you will have to experiment to see which if any work best for you.
- Contract ID: 5000304 or 5504966 (Walmart Customers, ie anyone!)
- Product Rate Codes: WWEB or DWEB or EWEB Enter if booking online – sometimes help.
- Coupon IDs Available for MasterCard or Visa holders. They don’t always work in Ireland for online reservations, you may get the discount by calling National.
You can combine contract IDs, rate codes and coupon IDs, this sometimes results in better savings.
Hertz have discount arrangements with many organisations and businesses and these are often the best ways to get discounts.
- The best available rates often those for AAA members. If you are a member look for a code or call Hertz and ask for this rate.
- Take a look at their Affordable Europe Package. This is good if you need to book cars in more than one European country.
- Costco and BJ’s Wholesale Club offer discounts to their members
- Book through the AARP for good discounts
Declining CDW from Car Rental Companies
This is quite complicated, so I’m going to go into quite a bit of detail here.
Car rental companies do everything in their power to persuade you to purchase their CDW (Collision Damage Waiver) insurance. They all charge quite a bit for it. By waiving it you can save a lot of money, but you do need to know what you are doing.
What exactly is CDW?
CDW is insurance that covers you for accidental damage to a rental car, up to and including writing the car off in an accident. It does not cover damage caused due to theft or vandalism nor does it cover damage to tyres or windshields or lost keys. In some cases it may also exclude damage to wing mirrors.
CWD from a car rental company generally costs anything from about €5-6 a day up to over €20 for some luxury cars. There is always a deductible, which varies a lot between companies and depends on the car you rent, but can be anything from to €1200 to more than €3000.
To overcome the fact that basic CWD leaves you with such high potential cost through deductibles and items not included in the cover, most companies also have a Super CDW option, which gets rid of the deductible or reduces it considerably and also includes some extra cover for windshields, tyres etc. Obviously this will cost more – twice as much or more.
Doesn’t paying by credit card mean I’m covered for all this?
Almost certainly not. If it’s a MasterCard or Visa card (even a gold one) then Ireland is one of a short list of countries where you are not covered.
If you have a World MasterCard or Canadian Visa you may be covered, but you’ll need to check first with your card provider. If they say you are covered, get this in writing and bring the documentation to Ireland with you, Even if they say you are covered, it is very important to check again with the car rental company, as they have complete discretion about whether to accept this cover or not.
Can I waive this insurance?
While many rental companies try to make it looks as though you can’t, and all of them try to put you off doing so, you positively, for certain, definitely can.
But it has implications.
The approach of the rental company when you waive CDW varies from company to company but they will all put a charge on your credit card. This does not mean your credit card will be charged this amount, but that the amount of the charge will not be available to you to spend on that card until the car is returned safely.
This charge can vary from €2000 to more than €6000, so you’ll need to have a card that will accept a charge of this amount without leaving you short of money while in Ireland. You should also shop around for a company with a lower charge.
But won’t I be at risk without CDW?
Yes. Terrible risk. Which is why we are not suggesting you go without this cover, just that you don’t buy it from your rental company.
Instead you can purchase for a fraction of the cost an insurance policy from an independent insurer.
So, where should I buy my CDW?
I don’t tend to recommend companies for things like insurance, partly because there are so many options but mainly because I have had no experience with most of them and I am slow to recommend companies I have not personally used and found reliable.
However one of the best known companies offering this service is Insurance4CarHire, and I know a lot of people who have had a very good experience with them. But you can search for others online. They all offer both one-trip or annual policies – the latter are very good value if you rent cars frequently.
Problem. The Car Rental company says it does not accept 3rd party insurance policies
It is irrelevant what they say because … it has nothing to do with them!
Any insurance you buy is an arrangement between you and the company you bought it from and it is entirely immaterial what the car rental company thinks about it. When you waive their CDW the car hire company will put the charge on your credit card as explained above. That’s the end of their involvement.
If you have an accident, you will be making your claim directly from your insurance company. All you require is that the car hire company provide you with all documentation required to make this claim, which will not be a problem.