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Disney Vacation Planner  >  Walt Disney World  >  Hire Car Charges
Last revised Mon, 26-Nov-2007 15:08
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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.

[Geo Metro] [Chevrolet Cavalier] [Pontiac Grand AM] [Chevrolet Lumina]
[Buick Le Sabre] [Cadillac Sedan De Ville] [Pontiac Sunbird] [Pontiac Sport]

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.

LDW Insurance

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.

Hidden Charges

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!)



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