How Do Car Rental Costs in Europe Compare to the US?


International travel to Europe has increased steadily since the early 90s. In 2017, nearly 670 million international travelers flocked to Europe on vacation. Almost 87 million went to France alone. While many of these tourists cram onto public transportation, there are extensive and well kept roads to facilitate speedy travel. Getting a rental car and starting your European adventure is easier than ever . However, the pricing structure can seem foreign to Americans. Here are some factors that will impact your car rental costs in Europe.

Taxes on Top of Taxes

Value Rental Car - value added tax

Car rental costs in Europe can vary from country to country, but there’s one thing they all have in common: taxes. First and foremost, you’ll need to pay something called value-added tax (VAT). Value-added tax is charged on the majority of goods and services in Europe and can range from 15% to 25%. Each country sets the rate, so it pays to do some research before you travel.

Along with VAT, it’s very likely you’ll have to pay a road tax and an eco tax to rent a vehicle. These taxes can cost as little as $5.00 per day, but the rates differ from country to country. The quote you get from a car rental agency usually includes taxes in the total cost, but it helps to ask for a breakdown of the total cost.

Understand Your Insurance

Just like in the United States, you’ll need car insurance to hit the road. However, when you rent a car in Europe you will be liable for a very high deductible if you get into an accident. You can limit your financial risk by getting a Collision Damage Waiver (CDW). This will reduce your deduction if you happen to get into an accident. A base CDW can cost up to $30.00 per day on top of what you’re already paying for insurance and rental fees.

Keep in mind that the insurance doesn’t include theft protection for the vehicle or your personal items. This won’t be an issue in most countries, but it’s often required when traveling in Italy. Don’t leave valuables in your car when sightseeing. Stay one step ahead by leaving valuable items in your hotel room or keeping them on your person.

Unexpected Fees

Unlike in the United States, it’s far less common to see vehicles with an automatic transmission in Europe. In many cases, it will cost more to rent a automatic than a manual transmission vehicle. Expect to pay a 50% premium if you want an automatic. You’ll also have to pay an extra fee if you want to add another driver. Even though it can cost up to $25.00 extra per day, it’s worth it to ensure your insurance covers every driver.

Depending on the rental company you may have to pay pickup and drop off fees. This is the case for many American rental car companies so it might not raise many eyebrows. However dropping your rental car off in a different country, but with the same rental car company, can cost a considerable amount. In general, it will cost you an extra $300.00 or more. Be sure to take this into consideration when planning a trip around Europe.

Other Travel Expenses

First and foremost, expect gas prices to be significantly higher than in the United States. The average price per gallon of gas in Europe is between $5.00 and $7.00 as of 2019. You can save money by renting a diesel vehicle, but the price of diesel is still significantly higher than in the United States. Hybrid vehicles and other cars with excellent fuel efficiency are recommended if you plan on doing a lot of driving.

There are extensive toll roads in Europe just like in the United States. However, many of them operate in a different way. In some cases you’ll have to buy a sticker for your car window to drive on toll roads. This often applies for Mediterranean countries. On the plus side, the German Autobahn is free to use.

Still Wondering About Car Rental Costs in Europe and America?

Your friends at Value Rental Car are dedicated to providing helpful travel tips for when you’re renting a car abroad or in the United States. We offer competitive rental rates for drivers of all budgets. Take advantage of our complimentary pickup and drop off service within 7 miles of our two locations the next time you visit Los Angeles.

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