5-minute guide to hiring a car

Get your DVLA code before leaving the UK

In June 2015, the paper counterparts of driving licences were scrapped. Anyone hiring a car will now have to get a special ‘licence- check code’ from here. This allows the car hire firm to see your driving record online.

Anyone hiring a car will need a licence-check code

The code is valid for 21 days, so do it from home before you leave. If you forget, you can generate the code when you pick the hire car up, but this requires knowing your National Insurance number by heart, and finding free Wi-Fi, or face being hit with mobile-data roaming charges for using mobile internet abroad. So it makes sense, if you’re hiring a car abroad, to do this before you leave UK soil.

Don’t buy excess insurance from the car-hire firm

According to Protect Your Bubble data, there’s a one in five chance of being hit with a bill for damage when you hire a car - more than a slim chance.

The highest value claims are for collisions with other vehicles, averaging £490, while the lowest value claims are for damage to tyres, at £116 on average.

The car-hire firm will insure you against damage to the car, but the excess you have to pay can be high, so you’ll be offered excess insurance. However, it’s almost always more expensive to buy this from this car rental firm than from a specialist online insurer, which will cover you for just a few pounds a day.

Inspect the car and take photos

Of those who’ve been hit with a bill for damage by a car hire firm, almost half believe they were unfairly charged. The best way you can protect yourself from paying for someone else’s damage is to go over the car with a fine tooth comb before you drive off. Inspect it, take photos of any damage, and ask for the damage to be recorded by a member of staff. 

Fill up before returning the car

If there’s an option to return your hire car with the fuel tank full, choose it. If the car-hire firm fills the empty tank up for you, they’ll likely charge more than it’d cost you to fill up at a garage. Sneaky. Opt to fill up the fuel tank yourself before you drop it back at the end of your trip.

  • Find cheaper car insurance at Mustard.co.uk or speak to a Mustard adviser on 0330 022 7421