The additional driver, satnav and excess ... all these can add up to more than your original car hire quoteAre you planning to hire a car service Beaver Creek over the Easter holidays? Beware hidden extras, which can add as much as £350 on top of the original quoted cost. According to research for The Observer, adding an extra driver, particularly one under 25, a car seat, a satnav and excess car hire insurance at the rental desk all bring extra cost – in some cases more than the price of the actual hire. The most expensive optional extra is adding a young driver, but choosing to hire a satnav can also make a sizeable difference to how much you pay. Website icarhireinsurance.com compared the hire car prices of four rental companies at five popular destinations (Malaga, Faro, Nice, Milan and Barcelona) for the Easter week of 29 March to 5 April 2013. It found that hiring a standard family car in Malaga with Hertz, for example, would cost £280 for the car – but an extra £352 if you wanted two extra drivers added (one under 25), a car seat, a satnav and paid for excess insurance to take your waiver down to zero. Don't assume, either, that you will pay the same price for identical extras with the same car hire company in different destinations. Hertz, for example, charges £57 for a car seat in Faro but £38 in Nice. A satnav with Avis in Nice will cost £97; but £50 in Faro. The cost of fuel can be another hidden nasty if you use a car hire company that employs a "fuel empty" policy, where consumers are charged for a full tank of petrol when they pick up the car and told to return it empty – with no refund for unused fuel. In 2012, Which? sent undercover researchers to Spain to investigate car hire companies after receiving complaints from its members about large charges for fuel that were not made clear at the time of booking. Its researcher in Malaga was told that the cheapest initial car hire price, including basic insurance, was from Goldcar at €30.25. But when the cost of fuel was added on arrival, the price rose to a whopping €94.25. "Our research has shown that these unavoidable fuel charges can triple the price of a rental, turning what seemed like a good deal to potentially a very expensive one," said Which? Travel expert Rochelle Turner. "All charges should be shown up front at the time the booking is made so consumers can make the right choice and compare prices easily." In both cases, it is relatively easy to avoid car seat and satnav charges by taking your own. Airlines' policies on car seats differ, but most will allow you to take one on board (but often only if it is pre-approved and/or is a rigid-framed five-point harness type), or will allow you to check it in with your hold luggage. You sometimes pay a fee, but this is typically cheaper than hiring a seat from the car company. If you already have a portable satnav, you can usually buy a card compatible with the country you are visiting to put in it. Alternatively, you can buy a new satnav that covers both the UK and Europe for around £50-£60. Some of the extras you simply won't want. However, excess waiver insurance is one that many drivers who have had their fingers burnt will be wary of dropping. This can add on as much as £35 a day, but if you don't take it you could be liable to pay a typical £1,600 if the car gets damaged or stolen. It can even cost more — Avis's starting excess in Faro is £2,567. "Take out excess waiver insurance here in the UK rather than with your car supplier," says Bob Atkinson of travelsupermarket.com. "A standalone policy is significantly cheaper and gives you greater levels of cover and protection in case of accident or damage to your vehicle." Companies including Insurance4carhire.com and icarhireinsurance.com have annual and daily policies that you buy before you go, and can cost as little as £3 a day.
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