How fuel and insurance can affect the price of holiday car hire and how you can keep costs down

PLANNING to drive abroad this year? Do it smart and you can save yourself hundreds of pounds.  One in five of us will get behind the wheel on foreign holidays this year, according to Post Office Travel Money.

It surveyed driving costs in European destinations and found choosing the right car, route and insurance makes all the difference to your travel costs.  Today Sun Money looks at the pitfalls — and how to get the best value.

The Sun’s Mr Money reveals his top tips on how to hire a car and save hundreds of pounds

EU pick of the pumps

IF you’re still deciding where to go, consider fuel cost. France and Spain are the most popular driving choices but one is a lot cheaper than the other.

In Spain, unleaded petrol costs £1.19 a litre and diesel £1.12 a litre – 22p and 18p less than France. Over 1,000 miles of motoring, that makes a difference of £32 for unleaded petrol and £27 for diesel.

The Post Office named Cyprus as the cheapest for unleaded petrol at 98p per litre. That is at least 12p a litre cheaper than in other destinations.

Austria came next at £1.10, followed by Spain on £1.19 then Switzerland at £1.28 and Belgium £1.32.

The only country surveyed where pump prices have risen steeply is Germany. A litre of unleaded is now £1.43 – 7.5 per cent more than a year ago.

Most expensive of all in the survey of 12 countries is the Netherlands, where a litre of unleaded will set you back £1.60.

Go to the excess mile

HOLIDAYMAKERS who opt for basic rental packages risk heavy excess charges if they make a claim.

You can get around this by adding a “zero per cent excess insurance” to your policy – which means you pay no excess – but this can double the price of your package.

The Post Office found a basic £157 rental cost rises to £394 in Belgium when the extras are added on. Prices also double in Cyprus, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy and France.

The Post Office said half of holiday motorists do not take out Excess Waiver Insurance (EWI) and only a third cover themselves against tyre, undercarriage and window damage.

But if they have a prang – or are accused of damaging the car – they could end up paying excesses of £872 in Spain’s Costa del Sol, £974 in the Algarve and £1,409 in Italy.

To find the best-value holiday car rental, Post Office Travel Money added zero per cent Excess Waiver Insurance and additional driver plus a tank of unleaded petrol (40 litres) to the basic hire charge.

Larnaca, Cyprus, came up cheapest of 12 car rental destinations at £369.
Next were Brussels on £394.32, Vienna £452.59 and Berlin £458.88.


(Price per litre of unleaded)

1. Cyprus 98p

2. Austria £1.10

3. Spain £1.19

4. Switzerland £1.28

5. Belgium £1.32

5= Ireland £1.32

7. France £1.41

8. Germany £1.43

9. Portugal £1.49

9= Greece £1.49

11. Italy £1.50

12. Netherlands £1.60

(UK: £1.28)

Diesel or petrol?

IF you are hiring a car, diesel will probably be the best choice, as it was cheaper than unleaded petrol in three quarters of the countries surveyed.

In France, it cost 11p per litre less than unleaded and in Spain it was 7p per litre cheaper. The only countries where it was more expensive were Belgium, Switzerland and Cyprus, where it cost 8p more.

So if you are taking your own petrol car, those countries are a good bet. In The Netherlands, the difference was very stark.

Choosing diesel can save you up to 32p per litre, as it costs £1.28 per litre there – compared to an eye-watering £1.60 for unleaded petrol.


(Price per litre of fuel)

1.  Austria £1.02

2. Cyprus £1.06

3. Spain £1.12

4. Germany £1.20

5. Ireland £1.23

6. Netherlands £1.28

7. France £1.30

7= Portugal £1.30

9. Greece £1.32

10. Switzerland £1.34

11. Belgium £1.35

12. Italy £1.40

(UK: £1.33)

The best place to fill up

WHERE you fill up your motor makes a big difference.

It pays to fill up in the UK rather than in France

With the average cost of unleaded petrol at £1.28 a litre here, it’s better to top up in the UK rather than pay £1.41 a litre on a French motorway or A road.

You can expect to save at least £5 before you need to stop for more fuel.

But the opposite is true for diesel drivers, as the average cost in the UK is £1.32 a litre – more than in most of Europe.

Avoid filling up on motorways or main roads in France.

Instead, look out for hypermarkets and supermarket fuel stations such as Carrefour, E.Leclerc or Intermarché, which can save you around 20p a litre on motor-way pump prices.

Post Office Travel Money compared the cost of driving to Calais and back from the South of France. It found that a 1,500-mile round trip would cost around £311 for unleaded petrol at supermarket forecourts but would rise to more than £355 on major roads.
The same trip in a diesel car would cost more than £331 using motorways, while the supermarket cost is just over £281.


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