Anyone heading off on a holiday for the first time in a few years may be in for a nasty surprise if they're looking to hire a car...
A mix of rising fuel prices, global supply chain problems and the pandemic's impact on many businesses means the cost of hiring a car has soared.
It's not entirely hopeless though, and on today's Lunchtime Live consumer expert Sinead Ryan gave some tips on how to save some money if you do need a car on your sun holiday.
Sinead explained: “Prices are up around three times their pre-COVID amount - it’s massive.
"A lot depends on where you go… but a lot of the holiday hotspots - the Malagas, the Barcelonas, the Faros - are really expensive.”
Doing price checks for two weeks in July, Sinead found that Faro was the least affected by rising prices - but only for small cars.
A Ford Focus will still set you back around €650 - that would have been around €250 in 2019.
In Malaga, a Seat Ibiza is €1,245, with Sinead observing: “That’s the price of your holiday”.
Meanwhile, an Opel Corsa in Barcelona will set you back €700 - double or more what you would have paid pre-pandemic.
One area you can save money is when it comes to excess cover.
Sinead explained: “I would say you can buy that insurance before you leave. If you buy it abroad… it would cost around €340 extra, just to cover the excess. That’s on top of your car insurance.
“You can buy it here for around €3-7 a day. Or you can buy it annually as well.
“Ignore the hard sell - just wave [your cover] in front of them. It will cover you abroad."
You can also save on various different extras.
A baby seat, for example, might cost you €30-50 to rent - but many airlines will actually let you bring your own on the plane.
Sinead said: “Same for sat-navs - you don’t want to be paying €15-20 a day for the use of a sat-nav.
"Download your maps before you go."
Meanwhile, people are being advised not to ignore ‘fill your tank’ policies before returning their car.
Sinead said: “They’ll charge you not just the petrol / fuel costs [for an empty tank], but also a handling fee.
"Fill it before you get back - at least 10km out from the airport to get a regular price.”
Booking well in advance might not make a difference price-wise, but it will make a difference in terms of availability.
Sinead added: “If you want to save on costs as well, don’t get airport to airport. That might sound messy… but actually if you can get a hire place off-site - even if that means you need to get a shuttle bus to get there - that can be a bit cheaper.
"The car hire companies are charged a fortune to be based in the airport.
“If you can get a bus or train to your destination and hire a car in the resort, that might be cheaper again. They’re not dealing with all the business people who are coming on.”
Finally, do a visual inspection of the car you get and take photos of ‘every single panel of the car’ - the doors, the bonnet, the side panels - to ensure you note any scratches that were already there.
Double-check the contract for any scratches or dents already flagged - get those notes initalled by the car hire company so you can be “absolutely sure” there won't be any issues later on.