Car hire now double pre-pandemic prices in some destinations

best worst car hire firms
By Lisa James
10/02/2023
Home » Car hire now double pre-pandemic prices in some destinations

The cost of renting a car on holiday this Easter is 72% more expensive on average than the same period in 2019, while in some popular destinations it has doubled, Which? research reveals.

Which? examined data supplied by car hire broker Zest Car Rental for over 5,000 rentals in nine popular holiday destinations including Spain, France and the US, and found that seven out of nine destinations have seen weekly increases of over £100.

Cyprus has seen the most dramatic price rises, with the average daily rental rate more than doubling this year when compared with before the pandemic.

A seven-day rental would now set holidaymakers back £248, up 112% on pre-pandemic rates. Portugal and Greece are not far behind, with increases of 99% and 97% respectively.

The US is by far the most expensive country, with holidaymakers shelling out £537 per week on average, adding £239 onto the cost of a holiday compared with 2019.

Despite seeing the smallest price increases overall, at 25%, France nonetheless emerged as one of the pricier regions to rent a car, with a week’s rental costing £364 on average.

Car-hire costs rose sharply last year, partly because of vehicle shortages.

But this year, although companies have had an opportunity to begin restocking fleets that were sold off during the height of the pandemic, rates have not dropped as much as might have been anticipated, instead settling far higher than travellers were accustomed to pre-pandemic. 

Demand remains extremely high this year, contributing to increased costs.

Zest Car Rental reports that advance bookings are up 132% compared to the same point last year. 

Rental firms are also facing increased staffing and insurance costs, while cars themselves are also becoming more expensive – estimates by Zest suggest that the cost of purchasing a Fiat Panda, one of the smallest typical cars in a rental fleet, now costs around £5,000 more on average than in 2019.

Which? Travel Deputy Editor Jo Rhodes said: “High demand combined with a shortage of rental vehicles means prices across Europe and the US are still incredibly high compared with before the pandemic.”

She also advises people to take out third-party insurance, adding: “In the past, we’ve found hire companies selling inferior policies at the desk at marked up prices.”  

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