Options for comparing car rental sites are expanding with websites like Carrentals.co.uk joining the scene. Travelers have become comfortable comparing flight and hotel pricing through a variety of websites such as Trip Advisor or Kayak but the options for comparing car rentals have been more limited. Trip Advisor doesn’t compare car rentals, confining their services to flights and hotels, while Kayak and Expedia do. Things can get tricky when traveling internationally–it’s hard to know which companies are reputable and it can be time consuming to compare individual car rental sites. Carrrentals.co.uk is a site focused solely on car rental and operates worldwide. Carrrentals.co.uk is not a car rental company per se; rather it offers price comparisons between 50 different suppliers and serves as a booking site.
Using the Carrrentals.co.uk site is easy, with a clean, uncluttered screen. There are fields at the top where the desired currency and country of residence can be selected if it doesn’t automatically populate.
The site is not new, having launched nine years ago, and has developed an extensive track record, providing more than 650,000 car rentals in 15,000 locations through such well-known companies as Hertz, Avis, Thrifty, Alamo, Sixt, Europcar and RentalCars. Mobile travelers can access the site with either Android or iPhone apps.
When using the site to rent a car in Kona, Hawaii I found the process very simple and straightforward to use. After entering the date of travel and location rates were displayed in a reader-friendly format. The lowest rate was through Hotwire, and I was connected to the Hotwire site from Carrrentals.co.uk. However the vendor was not revealed until the final step, when I learned that my car would be coming from Hertz. After entering my credit card information I received a voucher, which I printed and brought with me to the airport pick-up site. The price I paid was what was quoted on the initial screen (24.95/day for 7 days) plus taxes and fees applied by Hotwire ($97.27), though there were options to select various options, such as GPS, infant car seats and extra drivers, which cost extra.
On the day of travel I had a series of travel delays, which concerned me. I called Hertz using the phone number on my voucher, but was instructed to call Hotwire Customer Care, which was also listed on the voucher. With trepidation I dialed the Hotwire number, fearing a long time on hold and a run-around for picking up the car late. Instead I was pleasantly surprised to have an agent pick up on the third ring and inform me that the car would be held for 24 hours, so even if I hadn’t been able to travel until the next day there would have been no ramifications. Very nice! However, it is important to note that changing or canceling the car rental would not have been as easy—refunds are not provided and changing the reservation beyond the 24 hour hold time would have incurred fees.
Although I am a Gold member at Hertz the rental was done through Hotwire so it was as if I was renting from Hertz for the first time and they couldn’t access my profile or credit card information—not a problem, just an observation. An additional driver was quoted as $13/day and extra insurance was offered, as well as fuel options for additional fees, which I declined.
Comparing the comparison sites
I compared searches for cars in various locations using Carrentals.co.uk, Kayak and Expedia, which displayed different results.
I started with a search for a car rental in Hong Kong finding 9 options through 2 different companies on Carrentals.co.uk. Kayak and Expedia turned up zero results, even when searching for different days. Kayak displayed a message that stated, “Either no provider sites serve the locations you specified or no results are available on your chosen dates” while Expedia’s message was more vague: “No cars are available at this location for your selected dates and/or times. Please change either the location or dates and try again.” After searching for several different dates it became apparent that neither Kayak nor Expedia serve Hong Kong.
I tried a search in Bangkok, Thailand and all three sites displayed many results, with similar results for Kayak and Expedia ($36 and $44 respectively) compared to Carrentals.co.uk ($37).
Searching in Dublin, Ireland showed the widest variation at first glance, and demonstrated the importance of checking additional fees. The lowest rate was from Expedia, an eye-popping $3.88/day. The devil is in the details though. Expedia displays a row of quoted rates and below that, in smaller print, the daily total with fees, which evens things out considerably. The $3.88 a day “come-on” rate ballooned to $42.86 with estimated taxes and fees—those are some bloated fees. Another Expedia quote was for $40.19 with only $5 in taxes and fees. Kayak’s lowest rate was $12, including taxes but not fees, while to Carrentals.co.uk’s was $14.84 plus any taxes and fees applied by the provider.
It is recommended that users choose travel dates using the calendar function rather than keying in dates as many countries (and the Carrentals.co.uk site) use the convention of date/month/year, turning January 2, 2014 into 2/1/14, whereas in the U.S. the convention is month/date/year, as in 1/2/14.
Carrentals.co.uk is an easy-to-use site that offers similar prices as other price comparison sites, while offering comprehensive international sourcing. Carrentals.co.uk is a useful site for domestic and international travelers.
The author was not financially compensated for this review, though she was able to sample the service for review purposes. The opinions expressed are those of the author based on her experience.