Hire Car Charges
[Disney Vacation Planner]
|At A Glance
|Minimum driving age is 21.
The addition of mandatory charges including a Handling fee,
Florida state surcharge, Airport Access Fee, and Florida Sales
Tax will add roughly 62 dollars per week in hidden charges
to the cost of a hire car. Additional costs include child
seats, more than one driver, drivers under 25, car upgrades
and additional insurance cover.
Most holidays include the "free" use of a hire car for
the duration of the holiday, and everyone taking this option will
expect to have to pay for any fuel they use, however there are
a number of other hidden charges that you may not be aware of,
which can make the hire car a very expensive "free" option.
When booking the hire car, prior to leaving the UK, you may be
asked if you want to pay for CDW/LDW in the UK, or in Florida,
although nowadays you'll usually have to pay for fully comprehensive
insurance as part of the holiday deal.
CDW/LDW is the Loss Damage Waiver or Collision Damage Waiver
insurance, and is often a requirement by all tour operators since
it provides insurance for the vehicle in the event that it is
damaged in an accident, or stolen.
The exact cost of LDW changes from year to year, and there may
be minor differences between companies as well, but generally
it is around 14 - 16 dollars per car per day. Also there is no
difference in costs between small or large cars.
It used to be possible to decline LDW, however if you choose
not to pay for LDW cover you will be expected to leave a very
large deposit when you collect the car, in the form of a credit
card imprint. Cash or travellers cheques won't be accepted.
Getting a bigger car
The size of car on offer depends largely on the size of the party
that will be using it, but generally a compact car for one or
two people will be roughly the size of a Vauxhall Corsa, whilst
a car for four people will be slightly larger, similar to the
Vauxhall Astra. Some companies may offer a slightly larger car
still for four people, which may be Vauxhall Cavalier/Vectra sized,
however if you want a car of this size particularly you may need
to pay one or two "upgrades" to get it.
Hire car upgrades can be paid for in advance in the UK, or can
be paid for when collecting the car in Florida. My personal prefernece
is to accept the basic car on offer, and investigate upgrading
it to a larger model when I collect it. This is because the hire
companies often run special deals on larger vehicles which can
get you a much bigger car, at a lower cost. The last three years
I've upgraded from a compact Corsa sized car, to a large people-carrier
or Dodge truck for only a few dollars more a day, which was far
cheaper than the same option paid for in advance from the UK.
When you go to collect the car, you will be offered a range of
alternative insurance options, and will be told about some hidden
charges that won't have been mentioned when originally booking.
The first hidden charge is "Airport Access Fee", which
around 3 dollars per day, plus 8.5%. You don't have an option
on this, other than not to bother with the hire car.
A mandatory Florida Surcharge will also be added to the bill
costing around 2 dollars per day. Again you don't have an option
on this one, nor on the Handling Fee of around 3 dollars per day.
Drivers under the age of 25 will normally be expected to pay
an additional charge of around 15 dollars per day. Child seats
are also extra, at around 5 dollars per seat per day. Additional
drivers will cost around 5 dollars per driver per day.
Additional Insurance Options
When you go to collect the car from the rental company they will
usually try very hard to sell you additional insurance protection.
The additional insurance offered is optional, but you won't normally
be told it is optional unless you insist that you don't want it.
Before deciding to accept or decline the additional insurance
on offer you should consider the implications very carefully.
Medical expences in America can be very high indeed, and in the
event of an accident, the third party may not carry their own
insurance. If the accident is your fault you may be liable for
a very large bill!
The first additional insurance offered covers Personal Accident
and Effects, and will cost approximately 6 dollars per day. This
insurance isn;t required if you have adequate cover for accident,
injury and personal effects under your normal holiday insurance
booked in the UK. Check carefully, since you may be paying needlessly
for the same cover.
The next form of insurance offered is the Optional Supplementary
Liability Insurance , at around 10 dollars per day. Known
as "Top Up" insurance, this covers you for law suits or
injuries to passengers in other cars in the event of an accident
up to 1 million dollars. In conjunction with LDW this provides
the equivalent to fully comprehensive insurance cover in the UK.
This is the cover that will get the hard sell treatment, and it
is well worth considering. If you refuse this cover you will be
asked to sign a document stating that you were offered the option
but refused it!
As mentioned elsewhere, fuel charges are relatively cheap in
Florida, with petrol costing under a pound a gallon. One option
offered by hire companies is to pre-buy a full tank of fuel. This
doesn't mean that you'll be given a car with an empty tank if
you don't take the option! It means that you don't have to return
the car with a full fuel tank. If you don't pre-pay for a tank
you will have to return the car to the collection depot with a
full tank of fuel, which will be checked.
The advantage of buying a tank full of fuel up front is that
you won't have to worry about how much is left in the tank when
you return the car, and will have a quicker return - you'll just
drop the car off and empty it of luggage. If you don't pre-buy
you'll have to wait for someone to check the amount in the tank.
It's best to return the car empty of fuel if you take this option
since there are no refunds for extra fuel.
The disadvantage of pre-buying the fuel is that you'll be paying
a lot more for the fuel than you'd get outside of the hirecar
depot (and it could be as much as three times as much!)