Top Tips for Choosing Long Weekend Car Hire

A long weekend away is often just what we need to reboot between holiday seasons. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of opportunities for those in South Africa.

The secret to maximising your time away is to fly to your destination and then grab a rental car to use during your stay. It’s the best way to ensure less travel time and more leisure.

Here’s how to master your long weekend car hire in South Africa according to almost any eventuality.


1.     Get Your Paperwork Together

There’s not a lot of paperwork involved when you hire a car in South Africa, but the process goes a lot more smoothly if you’ve got what you need to hand.

It’s best to read the terms and conditions provided by the car hire company of your choice for particulars, but most car hire companies require the following:

1.1 A Credit Card in the Name of the Driver

Some companies accept debit cards nowadays, but a credit card streamlines the process. The car hire company will charge a holding deposit to your card when you book your rental car.

This appears as a pending transaction on your account. Although the car hire company won’t debit the amount from your balance, it will reduce how much you have available to spend. They reverse this charge when you return the vehicle in the condition you received it.

The temporary authorisation hold includes security authorisation charges plus the estimated cost of your rental, minus any amount you pay in advance.

Drivers under the age of 25 or those who’ve held their license for less than a year may attract a surcharge.

These charges may affect the type of car you can afford to hire.


1.2 A Valid Driver’s License

You must be 18 years old and have a valid driver’s license to drive a vehicle in South Africa. So, the same rules apply when hiring a car.

If you don’t have a South African driver’s license you need an international driving permit, a passport, and an ID document. If you’re heading to one of our neighbouring countries for your long weekend or holiday, the same conditions might apply, so check in advance.

1.3 Insurance Coverage

You must have insurance to drive a rental car. Some credit card companies provide car hire insurance as part of their service, otherwise, you need a Collision Damage Waiver or a Loss Damage Waiver.

A CDW covers the cost of the damages if you’re involved in an accident. You will have to pay any excess charges related to this. LDW insurance includes losses incurred due to accident or theft.

Most car hire companies include CDW in their car hire prices, but you’ll need to pay extra for LDW insurance.

Third-Party liability insurance is a good idea since it covers you for injury or damage to other people and property.


2. When to Book Your Car Hire

As with most things, the mantra, ‘the sooner, the better’ applies to car hire. However, you might find some attractive last-minute specials in these topsy-turvy times.

The best way to find great deals no matter when you book is by comparing prices online. These can vary according to the season, any special occasions, the category of car, and the car hire company.

During peak travel seasons, prices will soar, but booking earlier won’t mean that you get the best car rental prices unless you come across an early bird special.


3. Potential Extra Charges

The more complicated your trip is, the more it’s going to cost you. Car hire companies must charge extra for things that affect their bottom line.

There are three main extra charges to consider when booking your car hire:


3.1. Pick Up and Drop Off Points

One-way vehicle rental means you pick up your car rental in one place and drop it off at another. This is perfect if you’re planning to drive to your holiday destination and fly back.

However, it’s always cheaper to pick up and drop off your car at the same spot as leaving it somewhere else means the car hire company must relocate the car back to its point of origin eventually.


3.2. Cross-Border Fees

You can’t take every vehicle across international boundaries. So, if you intend to do so, make sure you discuss whether you’re allowed to take a car out of the country before you hire it.

In most cases, you’ll need to pay extra if you intend to drive a rental car into another country. This depends on the car hire company as well as the country involved.


3.3. Multiple Drivers

It’s tempting to share driving duties when you’re taking a long trip, but you’ll usually need to pay extra for the privilege. You’ll need to present a driver’s license for the additional driver, too.

Some car hire companies allow you to add a second driver free of charge or allow you to pay for an extra driver for only part of the trip.

On a long road journey, it’s more convenient to distribute driving duties among numerous drivers, but this adds to the rental agreement’s price.


4. Choosing Your Car

Many cost factors influence the type of car you should choose for your road trip.

If you’re driving very long distances, choose a car with an unlimited kilometres package and make sure you fill up the vehicle before you return it. The combination of these two factors will always save you money.

While it’s tempting to enjoy driving a powerful and luxurious four-by-four vehicle during your trip, these vehicles cost more to hire. They’ll also use a lot more fuel than an economical, less flashy vehicle.

Rather, let the size of your party, the amount of luggage you have, and the terrain you must cover determine the type of car you need.

A flexible cancellation policy is always a good idea when hiring a car as things can change from day to day in these unpredictable times.


5. Getting the Best Deals on Long Weekend Car Hire

With so many options to choose from, there’s no doubt you’ll find your ideal car hire at the right price from one of the country’s excellent car hire outlets.

So, shop around and keep comparing the best car rental prices in South Africa until you find the perfect one for your needs.