We rent a car in Bari
The day came again when we packed our bags and went on our way. This time to Apulia. Due to the low-cost air connections, our starting station in Apulia was Bari.
The rich sightseeing plan we had planned was associated with the need to rent a car in Bari. I found it a great opportunity to re-verify everything I wrote in the car rental guides.
Besides, the situation developed so that it turned out that not only us were waiting for this trip. Quite a few other people were waiting for him, though I didn't even realize it at first.
This is due to my blog comment where I wrote that On February 10, we plan to rent a car in Italy for a week and I will try to report how we did. And since it was the date of the winter break, many people who were going to Italy during the summer break decided to wait with renting a car until my comment appeared after collecting the car.
I found out how many people were waiting for it when, after landing in Bari, picking up the car and checking into the hotel, I logged into the hotel's wi-fi. The phone immediately vibrated, demanding my attention and signaling new messages. On e-mail, blog, Messenger ... everywhere! Everywhere there are messages and questions about the rental: "write how it went because we are leaving tomorrow", "and how did the rental go?", "Is the rental all right?" ….
I had no idea so many people could wait for it! So I started writing immediately, and what I could quickly write on the phone, I wrote in the comments under the entry: Sicily - car rental - [click].
However, I decided that the information I had collected deserved a separate entry. Leaving them only in the form of a comment under another entry is not enough, the more that I still receive messages with inquiries on this very matter.
So below I have described everything that I managed to collect, check and confirm using the example of renting in Bari. I will describe the whole process from looking for a good offer, the booking process via the Internet, picking up the car at the rental company, purchasing additional services, up to returning the car to the rental company and final settlement with the rental company.
So let's get started ...
### important fragment of the text added in 2021, during the pandemic ###
Beware of pandemic car rental prices !!!The COVID-19 pandemic has turned car rental prices upside down. The increase in car rental prices is huge. Official announcements say that the price increase is due to the need to maintain high sanitary standards. In my opinion, the strict sanitary requirements do not justify such an increase in the cost of car rental. What kind of growth are we dealing with? The 5-day rental I did during my trip just before the pandemic cost me less than EUR 70 (with full insurance). Today, for exactly the same rent, I see prices in the range of 400 - 450 EUR. Horror! Why is it like that? I am convinced that the rental companies compensate for a smaller number of customers with a higher price. One rental must now "compensate" for the reduced demand.
Is there a way to get high prices during COVID-19?I have re-analyzed the offers of a dozen of the best car rentals and a few of the best price comparison websites. I found one common denominator. In fact, the prices are very high all the time, but drastically falling (by 50% or even more)just before the planned departure. The lowest prices are more or less 5-10 days before the planned departure and they drop to around 50 EUR for one day of rental, with full insurance option. Any price at this level or lower should now (especially in the summer season) be considered attractive (of course if applies to rental with full insurance). Advance booking 1-5 days is very risky and prices in such short notice often (although not everywhere) increase again.
The offer of the rental company I selected and described below is still the best, but it is more expensive than it was. Make a reservation as I wrote: 5 - 10 days before the planned pickup of the car. Then the price should be the lowest.
From comparison websites, I recommend that you look for two: Discover Cars - [click] and Rentalcars - [click]. They have wide offers, and at the same time have signed contracts with various groups of rental companies. Thanks to this, you check various offers from different groups. A particularly interesting alternative is here Discover Cars - [click]because it has contracts with many local, small rental companies. It is possible that some local promotion can be scored. The other comparison engines are practically a copy of what you will find in Rentalcars - [click].
All the other comments and advice that I have included later in this post still apply, so it is obligatory to read the rest. You will find my complaints there that 50 EUR a day is expensive, but I would like to remind you that this was related to the situation before COVID-19. We currently have a different situation.
### end of the fragment added in 2021 ###
Search for the best offer
I have been searching and analyzing the car rental offer long before the planned date of departure. I checked and compared prices, the range of services, and the requirements of the rental companies as to financial security, I read reviews about rental companies, in short, everything that can be found on the websites of the rental companies, as well as on the websites of the largest price comparison websites.
It quickly turned out that my search generates an almost identical result and conclusions as those that I collected and published some time ago in a very popular entry about car rental in Sicily - [click]. Why?
The southern regions of Italy, namely Campania, Puglia, Calabria, Basilicata, Molise and Sicily, are treated by car rental companies as regions with a higher risk of car damage or theft. The location of the high-risk regions on the map of Italy is shown in the map below. These regions are of course marked in red. As you can see, Sicily and Bari are located in this region.
So it is not surprising for rental companies. It is not difficult, or even very easy, to make minor damage (scratches, dents). Just a few minutes behind the wheel to realize that drivers in this part of Italy are true masters in generating dangerous situations, at the contact, by the millimeters. On the road, they are able to come up with and successfully implement so many idiotic ideas that are beyond human understanding and break so many rules that the road code would lack paragraphs. For someone who is visiting this region for the first time and driving a car, it is always a SHOCK.
As for the theft phenomenon, only police statistics can help, but there is probably no point in delving into it. It is enough to acknowledge that the probability of theft in the south of Italy is relatively highest and decide on a rental with appropriate insurance.
From this point of view it seems logical that in this area most rental companies have stricter car rental rules than in the rest of Italy and most of Europe. Some of the companies do not even have their rental points in this area and do not run their branches here. So the choice of rental companies becomes smaller.
Fortunately, I had an extensive entry on car rental in Sicily on hand, and Sicily and Apulia for car rental are the same high-risk region. Thus, it became clear why the analysis of the car rental offers in Bari led to the same results as in Sicily. It simply couldn't be otherwise.
So the conclusion is simple: I searched and rented a car in Bari as I wrote in entry about Sicily - [click]. Dot.
Thus, the rental test became even more interesting.
Before going any further, a word of comment should be given regarding the option of car hire without a credit card and no deposit in the south of Italy. The offer for such rental is very modest and at the same time terribly expensive and very convoluted. Reading the regulations is extremely unpleasant due to the number of exceptions, inclusions, asterisks and links in small print. Basically, it comes down to the fact that for nightmare money (50 euros or more a day) you get a rental with "full insurance", which in practice is not at all full insurance (you can also collect money from the debit card whose details you provide). In case of a problem, you still have a problem.
I do not go into it and I will not recommend it to others. I consider this policy to be simply preying on the fear of customers.
Of course, there are places in Europe where such a rental without a credit card and a deposit is unrivaled and I sincerely recommend it (e.g. on Majorca, Alicante, Tenerife …) But not in the south of Italy.
So I chose a self-recommended (funny 🙂) offer from Sicily By Car rental, described in detail in the entry about Sicily - [click].
I chose of course Special Offer with full insurance against theft and damage. Exactly with the description as in the picture below, the red arrow shows.
I made the reservation via the comparison website Rentalcars. Sicily by Car has a policy that their prices are much lower through the comparison engine than for direct rentals on their website. The difference is huge and can even reach 30% in favor Rentalcars. Such a sales policy.
Here usually the first suspicion appeared: "why by Rentalcars is it secret? "," maybe something in this offer is wrong? "," maybe something is mixed up with the descriptions and scope of insurance? " ... etc.
There was no other way than to just check it out personally by renting a car. Wasn't that the perfect occasion?
For several days I watched the price on Rentalcars. I made sure the prices were stable and cut: clicked Book it! I filled in the appropriate driver details, paid online with a regular payment card and it's ready! The door handle had fallen.
For my rental, from 10 to 17 February (7 days) I paid 268,47 PLN.
According to the description of the offer at this price, I should get in Bari:
- the smallest and cheapest car from the rental offer: Citroen C1 or similar
- full insurance against possible damage (excluding windows, luthiers and wheels - as standard as in most rental companies)
- full insurance against theft
- due to the higher risk region, financial liability in the event of an incident will be increased from EUR 0 to EUR 300 (in another region it would be EUR 0)
- the need to establish a deposit on a credit card in the amount of material liability, that is: EUR 300
- unlimited kilometers
- all additional taxes included: airport, road, local, license
- when collecting and returning a car with a full tank of gas
Immediately after completing the booking, I received an e-mail confirmation, as shown in the picture below.
There was a link in the confirmation so that I could see my booking confirmation page at any time, print my booking voucher, cancel it free of charge or make changes for free if something changed in the meantime.
Of course, I immediately printed my booking voucher and saved a copy of it as a .PDF file to get over it. You can download and view my reservation coupon here: Rentalcars-booking-coupon.pdf
In addition, the website contained all the information confirming the scope of my reservation, visible as below:
Basic booking details:
Price and scope of services in the booking:
Additional information useful when picking up the car:
Pick up the car
After successfully arriving in Bari, a crucial moment has come: pick up the car. Now it was about to prove whether everything I wrote about would prove to be confirmed in practice.
The Sicily by Car key collection office is located inside the airport terminal. After getting off the plane and entering the main hall of the terminal, you have to go left and there are windows for all car rental offices. The terminal was tiny, so finding the right window was very easy.
We entered the main hall of the terminal and we have this picture before our eyes. There are many rental windows around. Empty everywhere and there is only one queue. At first I thought: damn, not Sicily by Car, but after a while I changed my mind ... because where is the biggest queue? Where they give the best food! Yes, it was the line at the Sicily by Car counter. You can see it in the photo below 🙂
Despite the fact that I had to wait about 30 minutes in the queue to pick up the balls, the grimace of amusement did not leave my face.
It was my turn. The nice lady explained everything step by step, discussing what the offer includes. Everything was fine. Then she offered me to extend my insurance for windows, mirrors and wheels for EUR 7 per day. In my case (for 7 days) it was 49 EUR (i.e. about 210 PLN). Of course, I took advantage of the offer and for PLN 210 I bought myself full comfort and peace. Additionally, the purchase of this insurance lowered the material liability and the deposit on the card to 200 EUR (from the original EUR 300).
For another EUR 5 a day, I could buy 24 h Assistance and then, if anything happened on the road, the rental shop would be at my disposal immediately. I thanked you for this extension. What I have was enough for me.
Ultimately, for 7 days of rental with maximum insurance for everything, I paid 268,47 + 210 = 478,47 PLN. One day of rental cost me PLN 68,35, which is some 15,9 EUR.
The nice lady took the payment, made a deposit of 200 EUR and finally pointed out to me that when returning the car, I only have to make sure to return the car with a full tank of gas. That's it.
I received the key and the car rental protocol, with which I went to pick it up.
Pick up the car
The car park from which the car is picked up is about 200m from the airport exit and to get to it you have to go almost all the time straight, and finally enter the car park through the entrance on the left side of the car park, as shown on the map below. The route is marked with appropriate stamps, so I can't get lost.
The car was already ready to be picked up and a certain change took place here. It turned out that this is not tiny I had booked Citroen C1and large and comfortable Dacia Duster with a diesel engine, mileage about 27 thousand km and GPS navigation in Polish (!!!). The gentleman handling the delivery of cars asked for a rental report, which I received at the office. He inspected the car with me, showing me with his finger all the damage (two abrasions and one dent) that the car had, along with the place of their marking on the report.
The photo of the protocol is included later in the article in the part describing the return of the car.
After three minutes it was possible to go.
By the way, earlier I had read a bit about what steals the most in Italy, and when I was picking up the car from the rental car park, I looked around. The rental company definitely avoids brands that are popular among thieves. It was clear that they read the same statistics and prefer cars that are unlikely to be stolen. Clever.
Besides, if you think about it, a few scratches on the body or a slight dent in the fender on the picked up car were even good for me. I am not kidding! In Italy, cars are stolen for sale (unlike in Poland, where it is done mainly for parts). Italian thieves punch numbers, make extra papers and sell them in another country. If you rent a car that is reluctantly stolen, and a little bit scratched or dented, who will steal it? He won't sell it! And it's not a waste of time, money and effort for renovation.
At first I thought that Citroen C1, in the narrow streets of small Italian towns, would be better. In the end, it turned out not to be a big problem. Only in Lecce, where the hotel was located in a place that required driving through the really narrow streets of the old town, situated in a restricted zone, had to be managed with great care. Besides, the access roads were wide enough everywhere. On the other hand, most of the roads we used to navigate in the provinces, except for big cities, were local roads. Their condition leaves much to be desired. They are uneven and patched many times. A patch on a patch. The Dacia Duster with large wheels handled them well, smoothing out bumps. I can guess that the Citroen C1 would shake us much more.
As I mentioned, I got a car with a mileage of about 27. km. Almost new. So it's hard for me to complain about anything. When renting, I looked around the car park of the rental company and did not notice that there were cars that could be seen as unique "dead bodies". Overall, the fleet appears to be in a tight run and is renewed on a regular basis.
The return of the car was as quick as the pickup. The gentleman collecting the car looked at the metal sheets around to see if there were any new souvenirs in the form of abrasions and dents. At the same time, he did not feel too emotional about it. Just a glance. By the way, they know these cars very well, because they watch them anew every few days. So the guy knows every scratch by heart.
He paid much more attention to windows, especially the windshield. He looked at it really closely. I watched everything calmly (after all, I had a window insurance policy). Finally, the slogan was: "all is OK"! You signed the protocol without any comment. One copy for him, one for me, and that's it. We were free.
Car pickup and return protocol and other documents
This is the most important document during the rental period. If the police stop you on the road, it replaces the registration certificate. It is this document that confirms your right to drive that particular vehicle and provides proof that the car is not stolen.
The document is self-copying, so eventually there are two copies, one of which is taken by the rental company and one is left for you.
It looks like the picture below (it looks similar in most rental companies). You will receive it along with the key from the Lady at the counter in the airport terminal. On its basis, an employee in the car rental car park will give you a car.
The protocol in the picture below has been divided with lines into 3 areas that can be clearly distinguished on it: top, bottom left and bottom right. From the protocol I removed (or in fact blurred) only our signatures.
Below are some of the most important parts of the protocol.
Top of the protocol
At the top of the protocol you can find information about:
- number of the parking space where the car is located,
- car model and type of fuel (if you missed the car keys, you can always check it here, the more that flooding the car with the wrong fuel is not covered by insurance)
- registration number and reservation number (you may need a registration number in a hotel, for example. Hotels often have free parking spaces available only to hotel guests, but must provide the number of the car authorized to occupy the space. traffic is restricted to emergency vehicles only. As a hotel guest you have the right to enter, but upon entry you have to report it to the reception and hotel staff report your number to the police base, giving you the right to temporarily move and stay in the area.)
- car equipment (no special comment is required. Everything the car is equipped with is marked).
Lower left part of the protocol
It concerns the condition of the car at the time of picking up the car from the rental company.
- date and time of pick-up, car odometer reading, fuel level in the tank (red arrow indicates the fuel level marked with a dot when picking up the car: full tank)
- information about the location of the damage on the car (I had 3 of them, they are indicated by the arrows in the picture)
- Additional information. (e.g. additional equipment such as: car seats, wi-fi router, etc.)
Bottom right part of the protocol
It concerns the condition of the car at the time of returning the car to the rental company.
- date and time of return, odometer reading (if the number of kilometers traveled as part of the rental was limited), fuel level in the tank,
- places where new damage appeared, which was not there when the car was picked up (fortunately, there were no new ones, so there are no markings).
Slightly below there are a few frames related to the description of the condition of the returned vehicle, where the rental employee clearly indicates whether there are (or not) new damage or the returned car was extremely dirty, or, for example, it was sent to a workshop for repair, etc. I clearly see the marked the option that there is no new damage ("No new damage").
At the very bottom, there is an additional confirmation, which the customer confirms with his own signature whether the vehicle was involved in a road incident. I have been marked NO.
Credit card deposit lock
Most complaints about rental companies, and practically all rental companies, are related to the fact that they allegedly unjustly charge the card with additional fees after returning the car. The number of different stories on the Internet on this subject is huge. I will say clearly: I don't believe most of it. I just don't want to believe that rentals that have been around for decades would be able to stay in business if they were openly robbing customers. It doesn't add up.
Another thing is that the regulations often contain provisions that we are not able to read, because there is too much of it. Too many references, asterisks, exclusions, exceptions. The most common mistakes that customers make, for which the rental companies charge additional fees, are:
- returning the car with an incomplete tank (for refueling by car rentals, the fee is usually up to EUR 100, regardless of the amount of missing fuel),
- return of a very dirty car, or cars with dirty upholstery (the fee for cleaning the car is between ten and twenty euros. when the dirt shows signs of normal use type: sand and dirt on the carpets, ordinary dirt on the car body, e.g. in the rain, when trucks splash on us, etc., rental companies do not charge fees. However, if a child spills a yogurt on the seat or smears the inside of the car with ice, and there will be heaps of mud on the body, because someone has decided to raid in the forest, then you should expect a surcharge for bringing the car to order. The same should be expected if the interior of the car is saturated with the smell of cigarettes. Never smoke in a rented car!),
- violations of road regulations and related fines (if you violate the regulations and register it, for example, a speed camera, the police will ask the rental company to provide the driver's data. The rental company will provide the police with this data, and for this action will charge you for providing the data. Usually it is about 50 EUR. for each sharing. So if you violate the regulations several times and they share your data several times, there will be several fees as well. In addition, you will have to pay the fine later),
- return of the car outside office hours (some points work at certain times and only during these hours the return of the car is free. For the return of the car outside these hours, an additional fee of several dozen EUR may be charged.)
From my practice: I have rented a car several dozen times, in various rental companies and in none, I have never been unjustly charged with additional fees. Perhaps because I always search for a rental company carefully and choose insurance options? Or maybe I just know what they can charge me for, so I return the car according to the rules?
Anyway, my experience with rental companies makes me disbelieve most of the stories about people being robbed by rental companies.
So how did the Sicily by Car deposit refund story end? On Monday evening I returned the car, and on Wednesday morning the deposit was already released. After 1,5 days of returning the car after the deposit, there was no trace and there were no more downloads. Honestly, that's what I expected. Quickly and efficiently. Though I assumed it would take about 3-7 days. It went faster, better for me 🙂
This is the whole story
Sicily by Car I can recommend it with a clear conscience. They offer great prices, with a wide insurance package and a clear offer. I consider it a big advantage that the rental company prefers to sell through price comparison websites like Rentalcars - [click], Discover Cars - [click] or Auto Europe - [click]by offering much better prices through them than directly. For me, as a customer, it is very convenient because I can easily compare their offer with other rental companies. For me it is a big plus.
The rental company operates throughout Italy, so when looking for a car in Italy, it is always worth paying attention to their offer. When searching for a car, follow the rules I described in the post Sicily - car rental without credit card and deposit? - [click].
I hope that the above description will explain a lot especially to those who have no experience in renting a car abroad or are just about to do it for the first time. It is possible that if you have been afraid to rent a car so far, thanks to this information you will decide to do it for the first time. I hope!
Sightseeing in a rented car gives you great freedom and pleasure. You can reach wherever and whenever you want. You can see and experience more, even more. You don't have to waste a few days traveling from Poland to Italy with your car, spending tens of hours behind the wheel and losing a few days of vacation just to travel both ways. After two hours of flight by plane, you can pick up the car from the rental company and immediately start enjoying your trip, sightseeing, vacation.
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