Renting a Car in Italy

Renting a car in Italy

Do you wish to know our reviews of Europcar, Budget Rent-A-Car, Sixt and Hertz in Italy? We will cover them and also about important information about renting a car in Italy.

Based on Wikipedia World Tourism Ranking, Italy was the 5th most visited nation with 58.3 million visitors just behind, France, Spain, USA, and China. Italy has become a popular destination for many people around the world who love fun, vacations, holidays, business and unique and special tourism places in Italy. Renting a car is not necessary unless you really love the freedom to roam or explore the inconvenience areas like hill towns of Dolomites.

Car Rental Italy Requirements

Renting a car in Italy is not difficult if you meet the necessary requirements. Before you can rent a car in Italy, you must be

  1. at least 18 years old (those below 21 years old, certain rental companies allow drivers to rent a car in Italy as long as they have held their license for at least one year),
  2. own an International Driving Permit (not US Driving License), and
  3. own a credit card (for them to hold a deposit fee).

Do not surrender your original documents (photocopied are ok) to the car rental companies, as we will share with you a bad experience.

Horror Story of Car Rental

We wish to share a horror story we encountered during a car rental. We had a minor accident against the road railing and scratch the rental car. We called the car rental company and they asked us to continue the trip and just update them.

Upon return of the rented car, the company demanded us to pay an exorbitant sum for the repair (much higher than the excess from the insurance) even though we had bought insurance. After several negotiations, we decided to walk off and didn't pay the sum instead. Don't be exhorted in a foreign country and just make sure you are well covered by insurance. Imagine how bad it will end up if you had surrendered your original documents to them in the first place. In the end, the insurance company just needed us to pay the excess fee which is lower than the "repair" fee.

Our Reviews of Europcar, Budget Rent-A-Car, Sixt, and Hertz

We tried the car rental companies for renting a car in Venezia, Venice and rate them based on our experience.

  • Europcar
    • Pro #1: No need to choose my country (although some might feel their privacy being invaded). The currency also defaults to your country's currency for familiarity
    • Pro #2: Easy to choose the car (automatic, family)
    • Pro #3: For the environmentalist, it shows the carbon of each vehicle
    • Con #1: Price cannot compete with the Budget Rent-A-Car prices. Not for price-sensitive
    • Con #2: No reviews of their services on the site
  • Budget Rent-A-Car
    • Pro #1: Price is great which is important to those with budget constraints
    • Con #1: Extra steps needed to input my country and currency is tagged to Euros by default
    • Con #2: Does not show the carbon footprint of each vehicle although it said the cars are smoke-free
    • Con #3: No reviews of their services on the site
  • Sixt
    • Pro #1: Shows independent reviews (from Google)
    • Pro #2: Free cancellation
    • Con #1: Extra steps needed to input my country and currency is tagged to Euros by default
  • Hertz
    • Pro #1: Largest selection of cars
    • Pro #2: Lots of customization available (at a cost)
    • Con #1: Most steps required just to see the base price and selection. Need to key pickup, drop-off and even the exact time for pick-up and drop-off
    • Con #2: Extra steps needed to input my country and currency is tagged to Euros by default
    • Con #3: No reviews of their services on the site

In summary, go for Budget Rent-A-Car if you are budget conscious. If you are traveling as a family and not sure what to get, go for Hertz or Sixt as they will have the most customizations (at a cost). 

    List of Cost For Car Rental in Italy

    The following are the different fees you may incur during your rental. It is important to get the total car rental rates when doing your comparison. Most rental companies give a low rate for initial per day, while others give low per weeks, it all depends on the car hire service you are using per time.

    1. International Driving Permit (around $15 to convert your license),
    2. International Car Rental Fee (if you plan to travel across 2 countries, e.g. Eastern Europe),
    3. Out-of-Hour Pick Up (if your flight was delayed or landed at an awkward timing),
    4. Location Surcharge (Sometimes called pick-up or return fee. For renting at convenient places like Airport, rail station convenient),
    5. Parking fee,
    6. Mileage fee (usually unlimited mileage but you pay for the fuel),
    7. Rental Fuel (usually you need to top up fully when you return),
    8. Personal accident insurance (PAI),
    9. Personal effects coverage (PEC) insurance (for coverage of theft which is common in southern Italy, like Sicily),
    10. Collision damage waiver (CDW),
    11. GPS Rental Fee (might be free during promo period),
    12. Addition Drivers Fee,
    13. Car Seat Rental (if bringing kids),
    14. Car Insurance (Zero Excess vs Deductible),
    15. Young Driver Surcharge (some companies charge higher for those below 25 years old as there are more risks to them),
    16. Road tax,
    17. Congestion Charge (for tourist places),
    18. Speeding Ticket (trying to chase a Ferrari?),
    19. Toll Fee (when passing 2 cities), and
    20. Cancellation Fee (if you decided not to continue your booking).
    These charges might be subject to value-added tax (VAT) which is another 22%, as of today 4 Feb 2019. 

    Rent A Car From Home

    It is paramount you book a car rental service from home as it let you compare prices easily to get the best price. The only risk of booking early is that the company might fold before your trip. Therefore, look for a reputable company and check clients reviews, check discount rates and what clients says about the company.

    Don't just look for a few companies, use aggregators to get prices. Before you can decide the right car hire service you like to book. RentalCars.com, AutoSlash.com, Momondo.com, Vayama.com, Kayak.com, DoHop.com, Mobissimo.com. If you are renting for the long term, consider car leasing to save even more. 

    Compy With Driving Law

    When you hire a car in Italy, it is advisable you understand and acquaint yourself with the driving rules and regulations. This is essential in order not to fall a victim of traffic laws, drive cautiously and defensively.

    Though Italian drivers are aggressive drivers, do not imitate them. Don’t forget they know the rules of the roads, plus the road signs. In Italy, the left lane is only for overtaking and the drivers will be in their Mercedes, BMWs, or Ferraris who are speeding over 100 mph. If someone comes up from behind and flashes their lights at you, it's a signal for you to slow down and drive more on the shoulder so that they can pass you more easily.

    The typical speed limits to obey are:

    • 130 km/h (80 mph) is the speed limit on highways in Italy,
    • 110 km/h (68 mph) is the speed limit on non-major highways outside of major urban areas in Italy,
    • 90 km/h (56 mph) is the speed limit on local roads in Italy, and
    • 50 km/h (31 mph) is the speed limit in urban areas in Italy

    Biggest Car Rental Companies In Italy

    From Statista 2015, the lion share of the car rental market in Italy is owned by Hertz, Avis Budget, Europcar and Maggiore and Sixt. These are not the cheapest but are reputable and can offer more convenient in term of pick-up and drop-off places.

    Suitable Vehicle For You

    The size of the car and type (manual/auto) is an important consideration and directly impact your cost and comfort for your trip. In term of size, besides the number of people, remember to make a decision based on the luggage space you need too (for your shopping hauls). Some people love the full-sized luggage space vs just a hatchback barely enough for luggage.

    If you plan to be driving for long road trips, it is also recommended to go for an automatic transmission, which is more expensive than manual cars but worth the comfort.

    Bonus Tip: Useful Itinerary For Car Trip Planning

    It is easier to plan when you know which landmarks you wish to visit. Below are the guides from Lonely Planet and a downloadable Guide from CiaoItaly we found useful.

    Traveling In Italy With Children

    As with many countries, there are laws in Italy that require children under 97 pounds or 4’ 9” to use a booster seat. Young children less than 48 pounds are required to have a child seat. Locals report that these laws are rarely enforced, but abiding by them will, most importantly, help keep your little ones safe on your journey abroad. You can also bring your own child seats along with you, but the hassle of carrying this bulky item in your luggage usually outweighs the cost of renting locally. This would lead to extra costs to budget too.

    Where To Take Your Rental Car

    Like many cities, reputable car companies let you can pick up your car rental at the Airport or rail stations such as Fiumicino Airport, Milan Central Rail Station. Some companies let you return the cars at another location, subject to a one-time fee. That will save you time if you are planning a long road trip from north to south Italy.

    Conclusion

    When searching for car hire service, affordability is key as the prices can really balloon up. It is up to you the type of car you like to hire but ensure you do not break the bank for the sole aim of renting a car in Italy. Remember that public transportation can be much cheaper (without the comfort factor).

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