UK travellers warned of big jump in cost of hiring a car overseas | Consumer affairs

UK holidaymakers heading overseas this Easter will typically have to pay 72% more to hire a car than they did just before the coronavirus pandemic, data shows.

The consumer group Which? said the hire cost in some holiday hotspots would be double what it was in 2019.

The big rises have been blamed on a series of factors, many of them linked to Covid and its fallout.

The cost of car hire rose sharply last year and has stayed high as global shortages mean rental companies have been paying more for new vehicles. Many had sold off much of their stock of cars during the pandemic as demand collapsed.

Which? said that while companies had now had an opportunity to begin restocking their fleets, rental rates had settled at levels “far higher than travellers were accustomed to pre-pandemic”.

High demand has also driven up costs as more people decide they are ready to travel overseas again, in many cases finally taking trips that had to be postponed. Rental companies are also facing increased staffing and insurance costs.

Which? examined data supplied by the car hire broker Zest Car Rental for more than 5,000 rentals in popular holiday destinations including Spain, France, Italy and the US. It found the cost of hiring a car for a week increased by more than £100 in seven out of the nine locations.

Cyprus has had the biggest price rises, with the average daily rental rate more than doubling this year compared with before the pandemic. A seven-day rental on the island would now typically cost holidaymakers £248, up 112% on the average pre-pandemic figure of £117.

Portugal and Greece were not far behind with increases of 99% and 97%.

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According to the research, the US is by far the most expensive destination for car rentals, with holidaymakers now handing over £537 a week on average – up 80% on the 2019 figure of £298.

Jo Rhodes, the deputy editor of Which? Travel, said people should shop around and book in advance to lock in the most competitive rates.


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