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Travel Information for Queensland Visitors - Queensland Tourist Safety Information - regularly updated, official website.
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Car Hire Gold Coast Tips
Tips to help you save time, money and heartache when trying to work out what car to hire and from where!
These are the kinds of things I check when booking rental cars.
If you want to just jump to the sections use the links above to find the answer to common questions about hiring cars.
These questions are the sorts of things I have asked about myself, or been caught out with when hiring cars in and around Australia.
Perhaps you can take something from my mistakes and save yourself time, money and heartache!
This list is not exhaustive, but will certainly give you some things to check out for yourself when you are looking for car hire in the Gold Coast.
If I'm travelling interstate in Australia and I want a car for the whole trip, I usually pick up at or near the airport and then use it as my transfer. When travelling with the family, usually this works out as the best and most cost effective option.
When travelling overseas I am more likely to take transfers from the airport and then pick up a car close to where we are staying for just a day or two, as needed. This is especially true if I am unfamiliar with the road rules, cannot speak the language or read the road signs, when driving on a different side of the road to what I am used to or I'm likely to be tired or jetlagged when I arrive!
As well as the usual larger global companies such as Avis, Budget, Thrifty and Europcar, you can consider Australian car hire companies such as East Coast Car Rentals and RedSpot Car Rentals. There are other local rental cars Gold Coast Australia companies in the suburbs and near the airport - but I personally stick to the ones I have mentioned.
Please check the fine print for yourself - do not rely on my tips for car hire Gold Coast and Brisbane. The purpose of this is to highlight some of the things I have found that have tripped me up on my travels. I am sure there are more and I will add any new ones I come across.
Car Hire Gold Coast Airport and Brisbane Airport Car hire from on-airport businesses attracts a surcharge - upto 11% or more.
Most off-airport car hire businesses provide courtesy transfers to their premises off the airport.
It is worth checking to see if they call it something else - like airport transfer fee or airport surcharge even if they are not on the airport.
Sometimes the just-off airport car hirers are not much cheaper than the on airport businesses. If that is the case, the hassle may not be worth it for you.
Even though it is now relatively easy to compare prices online - do be careful not to compare apples with oranges. Make sure you know what you are getting. The following are some of the areas to consider such as:
This isn't just true for car hire Gold Coast. Generally, the bigger brand car hire companies tend to have the newer cars and the budget hire and cheaper car hire companies offer older cars.
Older cars and models can be great if you only want to go short distances and are on a tight budget. However, this can be miserable if this is not what you are used to driving!
Many of the smaller cars either don't have airconditioning or when you put it on their little engines struggle – especially when you also go with automatic transmission! I am noticing that the smallest cars, economy or compact cars are now mostly manual.
Make sure you are happy to drive a manual or else you may have to go up a size and hire a more expensive automatic.
The message is to compare apples to apples online! And of course the different companies do make that difficult for you to do.
When I hire a car I look for the newer cars, but obviously value. On the Gold Coast, I have hired cars from East Coast Car Rentals on a number of occassions and the cars are pretty good on the whole and the price is usually pretty good.
However, more recently I've been using a car hire comparison tool and you can use it to check out the options at the different depots servicing Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast Airport, Brisbane or Brisbane Airport
Beware of the insurance excesses, particularly if you are on a tight budget. Sometimes you book what seems like a cheap car but when you turn up to pick it up, the fear of god is put into you when you see the excess is $2,200 or more!
You can buy extra insurance on the spot to reduce the excess. Now how do I put this without creating a lawsuit.....You are captive and have to decide on the spot whether to risk a huge excess or pay what may end up as 40% or more of the car rental in extra insurance!
I am risk averse and I know how people drive in the Gold Coast.
Personally, I pay for the extra insurance and sleep and drive easier on my holiday!*
That's why it is really important to do your research BEFORE you hire a car. You can make a much better decision about the total cost if you shop around before you hire the car. It's much harder to work it all out when you are standing in the hire car company's office being pressured to make a decision on the spot.
Always compare apples to apples when you can and look at the complete price when hiring a car in Gold Coast. Know what you are getting into.
I used to always pay for the extra insurance and peace of mind when renting a car whilst on holiday. However, I discovered that my travel insurance covered the excesses on my car hire! This saved me so much money, I won't be travelling without travel insurance from now on - it is so worth it! So check your Travel Insurance Policy to see if you are covered and if there are any special terms and conditions around car hire (always check as they are different).
Check the daily km limits and per km surcharges. Also some companies have miniumum booking periods which can be longer during peak periods.
In Australia everyone has to wear seatbelts when in a moving car.
Baby capsules, baby seats and booster seats are a requirement for children up to 7 years who need to be restrained in an appropriate car seat or booster seat depending upon their size.
You can bring your own or book one when you book your hire car. In peak periods they are in high demand - book early and make sure it is booked.
Definitely NOT worth getting caught out on this one, as you wouldn't be able to take your children in the car without the proper seats or boosters.
More information about car restraint requirements can be found on the Queensland Transport Website.
Ask for a street directory! Or better yet add GPS navigation to the hire and you'll never get lost again! Not a bad option if you don't know the area.
Check for restrictions - some rental agreements state you can only go within a certain radius of the location you hire from.
Most companies offer cheaper insurance for over 25's and will not hire to under 21's.
Fill up before you return the car. Don't forget to fill up with petrol before you return the car otherwise you may be charged a premium per litre refueling fee by the hire company.
Always check the type of fuel required. In Europe I assumed that no hire car would be diesel and instructed my poor husband to fill up with unleaded. 120 Euros later we left the petrol station and made it about 3 miles before the car chugged to a stop! A further 180 Euros to get the hire car company to send out the tow truck, drain the car of fuel and then guess what it was another 100 Euros to fill it up with diesel :(
An embarrassing, expensive and time consuming lesson! When you are on holiday you really don't need to want these issues! So I always try to keep it simple and stick to what I know.
In Australia some petrol stations do not have diesel pumps - so you may have to shop around for diesel.
Check for any unusual local driving rules! Most good hire companies have a guide for overseas or interstate drivers. You will need a current Australian Drivers Licence or an International Drivers Licence to hire a car.
Australia has strict drink driving and driving under the influence laws. If you are planning to party - why not enjoy a limo, taxi or use public transport - that way everyone is happy and safe. Also if you read the fine print on your rental agreement and insurance you will find that you will be liable and the insurance will be void - it's really not worth it.
Don't drink and drive.
Speed limits are enforced in Australia with devices such as radar and speed cameras. The hire company will charge your credit card if you are caught speeding when they receive the infringement notice - which may be a month or two delay. Oh, and they will also charge your for toll evasion or parking tickets and usually add on an administration fee.
Please check the fine print for yourself - do not rely on my tips for car hire Gold Coast and Brisbane . The purpose of this is to highlight some of the things I have found that have tripped me up on my travels. I am sure there are more and I will add any new ones I come across.
To compare the best rates from the major companies you could try DriveNow's car hire comparison tool, which gives a handy comparison across a range of suppliers both local and global.
Don't want to drive yourself?
If you don't want to drive whilst here on holiday there are many other transport options, including as taxis, limosines, buses and coaches.