A hopeless case?
It used to be like this. The case was hopeless. I was in Portugal for the first time in 2014. Then I rubbed my fingers on the computer keyboard in search of a good car rental offer. I searched for a long time, patiently and in the end ... I didn't find it.
If it were just a credit card and a normal deposit, maybe I could still do it. But not only were the card and deposit requirements high, but also the rental prices were like from another planet.
So I did it differently. I flew to Madrid, rented a cheap car there with the option of going abroad and went sightseeing in Portugal. It was like that then and now?
There is hope!
And now I missed Portugal a bit and started thinking about leaving again. However, I thought that before I start building the plan, I will check if anything has changed in this matter? Will the combination still be needed when using Spain?
As you probably guessed, this text wouldn't be there if it wasn't there was hope for an attractive car rental in Portugal, no credit card and no deposit required.
It's still not easy or common, but a lot has changed.
Why is it so difficult to rent a car in Portugal without a card and without a deposit?
It would seem that, like in most European countries, there should be no problem with such a rental. So what makes such a problem?
They owe everything ... motorways and expressways!
In Portugal, practically all motorways and expressways are tolled (except for the sections constituting the ring roads of large cities). Without going into details, it is enough to say that the construction of roads was carried out in various ways, so currently a dozen (!!!) companies own various sections of roads and have the right to charge tolls through them. In order to avoid the need to build a dozen or so different toll collection systems, a complicated electronic service system has been introduced (I will write about it in a separate entry, because there is no place for it here).
Several long stretches of motorway are only serviced electronically and there is no other payment option (no gates). This creates the possibility of unauthorized use of the ride, but I don't advise doing this. The electronic system is great at reading registration numbers from vehicle plates and after some time the computers catch all vehicles that have traveled on the road, without paying an electronic toll. It takes, of course, from a few to several days, but it works devilishly effectively.
Here we come to the point where it becomes clear why the rental companies in Portugal almost always block the deposit and require a credit card. Tourists often (whether it is consciously or absent-mindedly) forget to bring it in highway toll or they are temporarily lacking the resources to do so. The system operator catches such an unauthorized passage and asks the owner of the vehicle (i.e. the rental company) to pay the overdue fee along with an additional statutory penalty for the abuse. At that time, the tourist was no longer in Portugal. He has finished his vacation, he has given his car back and is sitting safely in his home on the other side of Europe.
What does the rental company do? If he has card details and a secured deposit, he will charge all the fees from the tourist card and that's it. If it did not have such security, all the fees would have to be covered from its own resources, adding to the business.
The situation described is nothing unusual. It is no surprise to anyone that a complicated toll collection system generates these kinds of problems. Hence, the rental companies secure the appropriate deposits on the clients' cards and with them pay the required amounts. If everything goes smoothly and quickly (there are 14 days to pay the arrears), the statutory penalty is automatically canceled.
Paradoxically, setting up a deposit on a credit card may even work in your favor, because the rental company will quickly settle the resulting liabilities on your behalf and you will not have to pay additional penalties. If you had to wait for the relevant information to reach you home, you would probably have to pay the fee with penalties, because the time to pay without penalty would be long gone.
I know! At the moment you are asking yourself if such fees and penalties will even concern you when you are at home, far from Portugal?
For several years, international law has enabled the effective enforcement of such fees, including road tickets. Appropriate summons will reach you faster than you think and they will land in your mailbox (I am the "happy" owner of several tickets, from speed cameras from different parts of Europe), and the payment will be finally executed by the Polish tax office and a bailiff. Mandates from the territory of the European Union are prosecuted in exactly the same way as those received in Poland. So I do not advise you to combine.
Where to find a car?
The best source of rental offers are, of course, the offer comparison websites. Here the name of the largest and most famous comparison engine in the world is most often used: Rentalcars … but not this time!
The breakthrough that prompted me to write this text is related to another search engine: Discover Cars. In 2014, it probably did not exist yet. At the moment, when looking for a good offer in Portugal, in my opinion it is unrivaled. Below are links to both search engines, with a brief description of each of them.
Therefore, conduct your main search in Discover Cars. You can search in the second search engine only to verify that the offer with Discover Cars is actually the best.
Comparison Discover Cars pays great attention to having as many local companies as possible. In this respect, it is great, especially in Portugal, where it beats everyone's head. In addition, it has a huge base of global companies with offices in Portuguese cities. A great tool thanks to which you can immediately compare local prices with the prices of the biggest market players. Here, sometimes (if you are lucky) you will come across temporary price promotions that will allow you to save a lot of money. Discover Cars it is a database that must be searched.
The Rentalcars comparison engine is the largest database of car rental offers in the world. Number 1 in the world for years. Due to the fact that Rentalcars mainly focuses on the largest and most extensive car rental networks, there is often a lack of offers from small, local companies. However, it is always worth checking if a giant has decided to do a promotion.
Other search engines and comparison engines
On the Internet you will find many other search engines and car price comparison engines. I have been observing them for years (because I have been renting cars in various places for many years). Searching most of them does not add any new quality to the search results, and often produces the same result as the pages suggested above. Why? Because they are only copies of the biggest and best search engines. The largest market players make their databases available to other parties electronically (using the so-called API key) and new pages are created that actually search the same database. It is obvious that you will not get any better and more interesting offers from them. You will get exactly the same result.
So there is no point in looking for the same pages on clones.
Time for the worst
This is where the most difficult and boring part of the entry begins. On the other hand, if you get through it, the knowledge gained here will give you the ability to safely rent a car, not only in Portugal, but practically everywhere. I suggest you take a sip of coffee and slowly start consuming knowledge, the value of which you will quickly appreciate (probably at the first booking).
Once you've gotten through a solid dose of knowledge, you'll find specific examples of how to search for the best deals later in this post.
Ready? So let's do it!
Before you rent a car - be sure to read it!
Before you dive into the abyss of car rental deals, there are a few things you need to know. First for your own safety and second for the security of your wallet.
It is obvious that when renting a car, you get your hands on a fairly expensive item, and at the same time very exposed to damage or failure. It doesn't even have to be your fault. Just a coincidence, such as a stone, which at any moment may pop out from under the wheels of another car and hit your car, scratch the paint or break the windshield. Or, in a parking lot, a car parked next to you may catch on your exit and leave a thick scratch. You might not even be there. You may not even know it. There are many examples.
A rental company that gives you its car must protect itself somehow. Loan agreements are usually long, multi-page documents, drafted in legal language, most often in a foreign language. When renting, you have maybe one minute to read it and sign the document. Of course, someone will say that you can try to read the contract template in advance, before borrowing. Yes you can. However, I do not know anyone who would be able to read contract templates from several dozen rental companies in advance and finally choose one. It's even a pity to try.
There is no miraculous way to get rid of the responsibility for the property entrusted to you by the rental company (although for an appropriate fee, this responsibility can be passed on to the insurance companybut more on that).
However, there are methods and schemes of conduct that allow for risk reduction and maximum safe car rentalwithout having to go into the content of the contracts. I will describe the entire process as briefly and specifically as possible.
How is the rental company secured?
A rental company, when giving a car to you, basically has to take care of one thing: to secure financing for the repair or purchase of a new car in case the car is damaged or stolen.
Of course, the potential financier is you (and insurance)! It's clear. You take the car, you are responsible for it.
So what does the rental company do? When renting a car, they ask you for a credit card with a sufficiently high limit, which in case of problems will be a source of money for them to finance the repair. The appropriate amount is put on the card deposit, then you sign the contract, get the keys and go.
depositis the first very important detail that you must pay attention to when browsing through the offers.
What is a credit card deposit?
The deposit is the amount that the rental company blocks on your credit card. This amount does not disappear from your card. It is still there, but it is not usable.
Suppose you have a credit card with a limit of EUR 1000. You rent a car from the rental company, and the rental conditions contain information about deposit in height 800 EUR.
You pick up the car. Then the rental company will make a deposit on the card when picking it up: according to the agreement, EUR 800. There is still 1000 EUR on your card but 800 EUR is locked and until the lock is released you cannot use these funds. Available you have 200 EUR left.
If you had a plan to use the same card to pay for a hotel that costs e.g. 400 EUR, you will not succeed. The deposit will be released at the earliest approximately 24 hours after the car is returned, and it often takes longer than a week. It is worth remembering and it is best to have a different (debit) card or a correspondingly higher limit on the credit card to pay for other obligations.
What is the deposit on the credit card for?
In this way, rental companies protect themselves against dishonest customers. If the customer does not fulfill the terms of the contract, the rental costs will be deducted from the deposit. Suppose you are 8 hours late to return your car. The contract provides for an additional fee for this. Regardless of your will, the rental company can collect an appropriate amount from the deposit.
Another example: You picked up a car with a full tank and returned it with an empty one. The rental company charges itself the value of full refueling and additional service costs. It is now more or less as if a liter of fuel costs EUR 2. So e.g. a fuel tank of 50 L * 2 EUR / L = 100 EUR. This is roughly the amount that will disappear from the deposit. Examples can be multiplied (scratch on a car, broken mirror, broken windshield, damaged upholstery, etc.).
In Portugal, there is also a question for unpaid toll motorwaysabout which I wrote more at the beginning of the article.
The amount of the deposit that rental companies place on the card is usually equal to the amount of the so-called deductible. Own contribution is the next very important issue that you need to know and check before renting.
Deductible and car insurance
In addition to the deposit, which is blocked directly on your credit card, renting a car involves taking on a commitment of the so-called own share.
The deductible applies in the case of:
- destruction or damage to the car
- car theft
Each rental company individually sets the amount of the excess. Separately for destruction and separately for car theft.
The deductible - in short - is the maximum cost that you undertake to pay if one of the above events takes place (i.e. damage or theft).
The assumption is that if the costs resulting from the removal of damage are greater than the excess amount accepted by you in the contract, then you are responsible only up to the amount of the excess, and the remaining costs are covered by the insurance.
Currently, virtually all rental companies include the cost of this insurance in the basic price of the vehicle.
Vehicle damage insurance - CDW
This is the basic, compulsory insurance that covers the vehicle (it is often called Full Insurance on the rental websites, which can be misleading, I am sensitizing, it is a common practice).
The practice of calling the basic insurance full insurance is probably aimed at suggesting to the client that he is purchasing a better insurance package at a similar price. Then the offer seems more attractive, but in reality it is not. So it is worth checking whether the insurance called full is insurance CDW or actually full (SCDW - about which I will write a little below).
I did not find an offer where the insurance would be subject to a surcharge. Everywhere it was at the basic price of the vehicle.
CDW is an abbreviation of the English name Collision Damage Waiver. Having this insurance limits your liability for damage to the amount of your own contribution.
However, in order not to be too colorful, this insurance usually excludes: windows, tires and chassis. There may be more exceptions. This means that if, for example, during a collision, damage has touched elements that are excluded from insurance, you will pay extra for their repair.
If you have been driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, then no insurance coverage works. You pay the full amount of the repair costs.
Theft insurance - TP
It is an insurance which, in the event of theft of a vehicle, limits your financial liability to the amount of your deductible.
The name of the insurance is an abbreviation of the English version of Theft Protection.
The cost of this insurance is included in the basic vehicle rental price.
I did not find an offer where the insurance would be subject to a surcharge. Everywhere it was at the basic price of the vehicle.
Full damage insurance - SCDW
This type of insurance completely or partially removes your liability for damage to the car and this is true full damage insurance.
If you want to throw off the responsibility for possible damage to the car, look for exactly such offers, with full insurance. We care about such offers the most and we are looking for such offers.
The name comes from the English version: Super Collision Damage Waiver.
After purchasing this insurance, your liability is reduced to zero, less often to a symbolic amount of around EUR 100 - 500 (depending on the brand and price of the new vehicle).
The rental companies that the basic insurance wrongly (or intentionally call) call this type of insurance: All Inclusive ..., Super ..., All Protection ... etc.
When booking on comparison websites, you can buy full insurance with each rental SCDW. However, you should be aware that this is an insurance that you buy in the comparison website, not in the target rental company. What does it mean? This means that if there is damage or theft of the car, the car rental company will charge your account up to the amount of your own contribution, and for the reimbursement of this amount under your insurance, you must apply to the comparison site with which you took out the insurance.
The solution that eliminates this problem is to search for an offer in the comparison engine that already includes full insurance SCDW. This is clearly stated on the offer. By choosing an offer in which it is already included SCDW do not take out insurance, which is additionally offered by the comparison website, because you do not need two identical types of insurance.
Travel Insurance - PAI
Often, when renting, insurance for people traveling with a rented car is also offered. It has nothing to do with the car itself, it only applies to people. If you buy insurance for yourself before traveling, you do not need it.
The abbreviation comes from the English name: Personal Accident Insurance.
This insurance is often included in the package with SCDW.
How to find good deals?
Now everything will be very simple and pleasant, although I'm not sure if after reading such a dose of hard-to-digest information everything is clear to you.
Don't worry though! The darkness will light up soon. We will reduce the search process from a few simple steps. You will be able to analyze offers instantly.
When analyzing offers, pay attention to four key parameters:
1. The rental price
It's obvious and you don't need to explain it to anyone. The comparison engine does all the work for us, arranging offers according to the increasing price.
2. Scope of insurance
The best option is a rental with full insurance SCDWwhich will reduce our liability to zero or to a symbolic amount of our own contribution (the less the better).
Finding an offer with full insurance often eliminates the need for a credit card, although in Portugal, the chances of doing so are lower for the reasons I wrote about in the first part of the post.
3. Credit Card Requirements
Always check (if possible) if you need a credit card, even if you don't think you need it. It is better to check it twice than to have a problem on the spot, when it turns out that the rental company wants to set up a small deposit of symbolic EUR 100 for possible tolls for motorways, which will appear after the return of the car.
I had such a case, but fortunately an ordinary payment / debit card was enough, on which the rental company blocked just EUR 100.
On the other hand, it is always worth having some basic credit card with you for a rainy day, on which it will be possible to make a small deposit.
4. Amount of own contribution
Don't skip this step. Check the excess amount for your own safety. I reject some offers precisely because of too high own contribution. Why?
Imagine two offers that look like this:
First offer: The cost of renting a car per week is EUR 350, excess amount is EUR 2 500
Second offer: the cost of renting a car for a week, EUR 370, deductible EUR 300
Which one will you choose? Because I will choose the latter. I prefer to pay 20 EUR more for the rental than risk a huge excess in the event of a mishap.
First example - the best price and strength of filters
It's time to start your first search. We start by entering the appropriate data into the search engine fields.
So I go on Discover Cars - [click] and I enter the data as you can see in the picture below.
As you can see, I chose to rent on Lisbon airportAt 7 days, within from 8 to 15 November 2021.
I press the button "Search”And I wait patiently for the results.
After a while, I get a list of free cars from all available rental companies, sorted by price. For now, however, I am not looking at either the results or the prices yet. We will do one more important thing. We will use the available in Discover Cars a filter that will do the black job for us. By the way Discover Cars has the best filters from all search engines. I hope they won't change them, because the ones they share now are just brilliant.
Rentalcars does not provide such filtering options and what's on Discover Cars we do in a second with one click, it on Rentalcars we have to do it manually for a dozen, several dozen minutes (I hope they will make some extra money one day and make their clients' lives easier).
But let's go back to the filters on Discover Cars. If you are working on a computer, you will find them in the panel on the left. They are available on the phone at the link "All filters”At the top of the screen.
We scroll the screen a little down and look for the section "Refundable deposit". We mark one item in it "A deposit is not required”And we wait for the list of search results to refresh.
Tadaaam! Ready! We only show offers where no deposit is required. This filter came out a while ago and I really liked it.
If you are shrugging your shoulders indifferently right now and you don't know what I'm so happy with, then get on Rentalcars and try to search for a non-deposit offer there. This filter is not there. We'll see how long it will take you. I have been through these torments more than once.
Let's see what showed up in the search results.
At first glance, the offer shows the following information: "Insurance with zero own contribution"I"No deposit required". I have marked them with arrows in the picture.
However, let's analyze the offer in accordance with our four points:
The content of the offer shows that it is an offer with a very wide insurance package. It even includes windshields and wheels, which most rental companies overlook even with full insurance. In this situation, the price looks really good.
However, please note that in this example I am checking the off-season price. In the summer season, there is no chance of obtaining such a rental price with such an insurance package.
2. Scope of insurance
As mentioned above, the insurance package mentioned in the offer corresponds to the full insurance package SCDW, it is even a little wider, because it also has windshields and tires. It looks very safe.
3. Credit Card Requirements
To be sure about the credit card requirements, we go deeper into the details of the offer by clicking on the link on the offer "Loan conditions". In the picture above, it is indicated by an arrow in the lower left corner.
We gain access to additional information.
The offer clearly states that no deposit is required. It is almost certain that you will not need a credit card. It only remains to check if there is any deposit related to the tolls. I have not found such information, so I assume not.
4. Amount of own contribution
The content of the detailed provisions in the offer shows that your deductible in case of damage or theft of the car is reduced to zero. I like such offers the most.
Example two - when there are no no card and no deposit offers
It is not always as colorful as in the example I gave above. Note that in the list of offers, after selecting "A deposit is not required"Only one rental company has offered an offer. Sooner or later, this rental company will run out of cars and only offers will remain, where a deposit and a credit card will be required. Then what?
All is not lost. Then you will have to choose something from the rest of the offers. Let us analyze such a situation.
You enter the direction and date, then go to the filter and in the "Refundable deposit"There is no option available"A deposit is not required".
Then you simply select the first available option, with the lowest deposits as below.
Let's see what you can see in the search results. The offer at a shockingly low price came first: EUR 50 for 7 days rental? Is it possible?
Let's check the details of this offer!
The price is shockingly low. I have an orange light (not red yet). After all, it is impossible to earn on this, and the rental company must earn on something. Well, there are no miracles.
2. Scope of insurance
A glance at the offer and you can see that the basic scope of insurance is proposed. There is no full insurance and no windshield and wheel insurance (as was the case with the previous offer). So I expect a large deposit to be required and a large excess in the event of an accident or theft.
There is nothing else for me to do but click on the link "Loan conditions"And check.
3. Credit Card Requirements
We see that you will need a credit card on which the rental company will set it up deposit in height EUR 280 - EUR 470 depending on the car model that we get on the spot.
In the description on the right, you will also find information that if you will use additional equipment in the rental (e.g. child seat, GPS, etc.), then the amount of the deposit will be increased accordingly.
Blindly, I can assume that when you are there, the rental company will offer you insurance that will reduce the amount of the deposit.
For my own curiosity, I checked it directly on the rental website and read its regulations. Rental for this car (larger cars may have a different price) offers to purchase full insurance SCDW on site at a cost of EUR 20 per day. This insurance also includes windows and wheels. Well, we already know what the rental company will want to earn.
4. Amount of own contribution
Reading the offer, it appears that your deductible in the event of a collision or theft of the car will be EUR 1550. Quite a lot. After you have taken out the full coverage I mentioned above, your excess will drop to zero. Another argument for taking out insurance SCDW. By the way, the price of EUR 20 per day proposed by the rental companies is a reasonable proposition. Typical for most rental companies in Europe (usually the cost of buying insurance SCDW in car rental locations in Europe it ranges from EUR 17 - EUR 25 per day).
Summary of the offer
The offer presented above, despite the careful approach to it, looks interesting. I admit that if I could afford a deposit of EUR 470, it is possible that the price of EUR 50 for the entire week of rental would tempt me. Of course, there is also the question of risk and own contribution: EUR 1550 is quite a lot. I would have to get used to it a little. On the other hand, buying insurance for EUR 140 for the entire trip (20 x 7), which reduces my risk to zero, is also a tempting proposition.
Another example was to appear at this point. While searching, I came across another, very interesting offer of the rental company. You can see it in the picture below.
Price: EUR 165, for an offer with a zero contribution (i.e. full insurance SCDW included in the price) and a symbolic deposit on the card in the amount of EUR 52 - EUR 152 (depending on the size of the car) looks really good.
However, I will not analyze this offer in detail. After all, you can do it yourself perfectly! Truth? And that was it!
I admit that I myself am surprised by the number of interesting offers that can be found in Portugal at the moment. I do not know if it is the Portuguese car rental market that has matured so much over the years, or if it is a tool for searching and gathered in Discover Cars is the offer palette so well structured?
All in all, I don't care. The main thing is that the effect is good. If you know how to search, at the moment you can find really attractive offers in Portugal.
Finally, one final note: do not wait until the last minute with rent. Book a car in advance. The best deals sell out quickly and at the last minute you will only be left with the bad and expensive or the very bad and very expensive. I know something about it 🙂
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