Car Hire in London: All You Need to Know for a Road Trip

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London is a wonderful destination, which disposes to exciting trips, learning something new and interesting. However, due to the large number of permanent residents of the city and a significant flow of tourists, it becomes quite difficult to travel by public transport and at the same time enjoy the beauty of London.

In order to avoid the huge metro and bus crowds, experienced travelers often hire a car in London. If you love freedom of movement and comfort while traveling, you can have a similar experience too. Here’re some important things to know before your road trip…

How to hire a car in London?

Most often, you need to use the official online resources of companies and make an advance booking by filling out a special form on the website.

In addition, you can compare the prices of several providers, as well as check if their car range matches your preferences and budget through optimized search aggregators. They are intermediaries in the provision of car hire services between you and the company.

When booking a car, you must provide the following data:

  • start/end date for which you want to book a car, as well as the desired place to pick it up.
  • driver’s age and driving experience. Remember that the minimum age is 21 and the minimum experience is at least a year. Otherwise, they may refuse you.
  • contact information, including email and phone number.
  • payment data.

Where to hire a car?

The most convenient place to pick up a car is at the airport. It’s very convenient: you land, get your luggage, take your car keys at the counter and drive to the city. This is possible if you hire a car, for example from Alamo Heathrow Terminal 5, or from Enterprise in Terminal 1. However, in some cases you need to use a shuttle to get to the company’s office. The point is that the counter may be located in the wrong terminal where you arrived. Shuttles run every 10-15 minutes, so in general it won’t complicate your journey.

Also, you can pick up a car in any city location in London. Car delivery is another thing they pride themselves in. It’s also available at very little expense to you. You will need to find a way to get to the office of the company, but you will get a more attractive price for the car. Of course, then you will need to ask if the supplier provides a return transfer from the office to the airport after the vehicle returns.

What documents are required for car hire in London?

Each company has its own specific requirements. Almost all car hire offices require a standard list of documents. It includes: 

  • international passport;
  • domestic driving license;
  • International Driving Permit (IDP) if your original document is not in Latin. Be careful that the IDP is valid only with your home driver’s license.
  • printed voucher with online booking number
  • valid visa
  • credit card with a limit of at least £300-500 for a security deposit. Please note that the higher the class of the car hire, the larger the deposit you must provide.

How much does it cost to hire a car in London?

The amount you pay for a car hire service consists of two parts:

  • Vehicle price, which directly includes the cost per day multiplied by the number of days.
  • Deposit blocked on your credit card. In the event of a car breakdown due to the driver’s fault and in other cases stipulated by the contract, they will charge part of this amount or the full amount from the account.

The specific price depends on the class of the car and the desired duration of your trip, because the longer the period-the cheaper the price. The average rate you’ll pay is £25, plus a security deposit of around £150.

The indicated price doesn’t include the use of additional services: child seats, additional driver services, full insurance, etc. Here’re the approximate prices for hiring cars of different classes:

  • Mini- £12
  • Economy- £14
  • Compact- £17
  • Standard- £26
  • Intermediate- £27
  • Premium- £42
  • Luxury- £52

What to pay special attention to when hiring a car in London?

When you hire a car for the first time, it’s very important to avoid mistakes that can cost you nerves and money. Check out some of the car hire nuances so that your experience is positive and your trip is successful.

Online booking. If you hire a car on the website, then the company offers two payment options: ‘Pay now’ or ‘Pay later’. ‘Pay now’ is usually much cheaper. Choose it if you want to save.

Registration of the flight number when booking a car. In case of online booking, fill in the field with information about the flight you are arriving. This is how the hire office will know about the flight cancellation or its delay, and the car will wait for you.

Damages. Walk around the car and inspect it for damage before taking it. If you see scratches or chips that are not noted in the contract, ask to include them. So you will protect yourself from possible claims from the provider when returning the car. And do not forget to check the damage to the upholstery and the serviceability of the devices: whether the air conditioner or the headlights is working properly. Also make sure you have a first aid kit and a reflective vest in the trunk.

Deposit. When picking up a car, the company blocks a deposit on your credit card. Usually it’s the amount of the insurance deductible. The deposit must be returned within 30 days after returning the car. Provider deducts fines and repair costs from the deposit. The cost of a full tank of gas is included in the deposit – if you return the car with an empty tank, it will be refueled at your expense.

Mileage policy. Despite the fact that you usually have unlimited mileage, sometimes they keep track of the car’s mileage during the travel period. You will have to pay extra for exceeding it. Read the car hire terms carefully to protect yourself from possible surprises.

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