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Florida car hire - P E
Any tips for hiring cars in this state? I have Hired before in the 'States but never in Florida. As such, with it being such a holiday venue was wondering whether to pre-book or just hire when we land in Miami.

I don't need anything too big but it has to be cool (SWMBO stipulation), what are the going rates for sept/oct?. Not a soft top. Any suggestions?

Also, cautionary tale, last year I hired a car in France using a prepaid voucher from a large rental company. 3 months later I was charged again for the hire by the rental desk in France. Turns out that one part of this company had gone bankrupt (the one that issued the prepaid vouchers) and so when the voucher was cashed by the rental desk it bounced, so they charged me again. (they had my credit card number for the excess.) After a few 'phone calls it turns out they were in their rights to do this. Everything turned out nice in the end but took a while to sort. Hope that makes sense.


Patrick.
Florida car hire - Godfrey H {P}
PE, how did you sort out the double charge for the car hire? I had the same problem in Germany, I wasn't getting anywhere until the BBC Holiday Programme helped me get my money back. I think you will get cheaper car hire in Florida if you book it before you go. Watch out for the insurance though, make sure you get full insurance cover with your UK booking before you buy. Some UK deals only cover minimum US insurance which is inadequate. The scam is you then get stung for top-up insurance at exorbitant rates when you pick-up the car, makes what seems a cheap car hire very expensive. Last time I was in the US I got an excellent fully inclusive package with Alamo gold.
Florida car hire - trancer
You should pre-book the car you want and confirm your booking closer to the pick-up date. I have made bookings before only to be told that they don't have the car I reserved, when I arrive.

A quick way to check prices would be to try one of the many travel sites such as www.orbitz.com and www.travelocity.com. They will have the breakdown of cars and prices offered. Not sure how long you will be hiring for, but weekly rates are always cheaper than daily, so even if you only need it for 11 or 12 days, check the 2 week price and compare it to the 1 week and 4 day price.

As for a "cool" car you can hire, I hope you mean air-conditioned as there aren't too many "cool" cars in the hire fleets...not unless you want to pay for specialist cars like Jags, BMWs etc. You might try for a Mustang, but it will be the weakling V6 model, as I haven't seen the V8 GTs for hire in a long time.


Now for the tricks to save money.

Never opt for their petrol at the time of hiring. They charge more than "street' prices which is about US$1.45-$1.50 per gallon right now. This can change daily and the agent will use this to get you to buy their petrol, but it never changes more than a few cents and never to a higher price than the hire company is charging. Also you don't get the option of only filling until the needle hits the full mark ;-).

Check with your credit card company if they offer hire car coverage. If they do, you can decline the hire car company's coverage. Oh the agent will kick and scream and give you every horror story in the book, but after about 3 or 4 "No"s they usually give up trying to sell it to you. I know American Express offers hire car coverage (up to a $40,000 limit)if you use the card to pay, but you have to be sure you decline all coverage from the hire firm in order for the Amex coverage to take effect.

Finally on a much more sombre note. Non-locals in hire cars stick out like a sore thumb. Please be very cautious if you need to stop and ask directions or when stopped at traffic lights (making right turns on a red is allowed BTW). If you should be driving and get bumped from the rear by another car, or in a manner where it appears intentional, pull over and wait in your car with the engine running. Don't hesitate to drive away and seek assistance should the occupants of the other car get out and don't look too friendly when approaching your car.

There are some undesireable areas in and around Miami, and they are quite close to the safer areas so its very easy to wander into places you really shouldn't. Things aren't as bad as before when hire cars had big bumper stickers advertising the company etc, but it is still quite easy to identify hire cars.

Feel free to ask any other questions.

G.
Florida car hire - Armitage Shanks{P}
Even if you pay CDW charges you are still liable for up to the first £1000 of any claim unless you pay for Super CDW, so far as I know. In UK this 'extra' cover can cost up to £8 per day. I hire cars, a lot in Europe, and have taken out annual cover, the equivalent of Super CDW, for £39.00 a year and there is a rate for USA as well, a bit higher of course. Details are at
www.insurance4hirecar.com. Also at 02073289034. No connection, just a customer and the firm was mentioned in the financial section of the DT some months ago.
Florida car hire - Flat in Fifth
Actually what you want in USA is LDW, which is Loss Damage Waiver. That also covers the loss of the hire company earnings because the car is off the road in the event of an accident and thus their fleet is one down.

CDW and Super CDW is a European thing.

Whilst you might like to check out the booking agencies such as Holiday Autos and Sunstyle don't forget to check the big names. Hertz can be quite competitive on their prepaid "WOW" rate and you get a more varied choice of vehicle. Why not treat yourself and get a big v8 yank tank eg Lincoln Town Car, you won't stick out like a tourist then. You might even get satellite navigation included which will reduce the risk of getting lost.

You'll probably have travel cover so you don't need the extra PAI which they'll try and slip in on the quiet even though you have deliberately deselected it during on line booking. Even regulars like me occasionally fall for that one when you are totally bushed.

Personally I don't hold with all this voucher stuff because of so many times people get the problem with the local agent claiming that the voucher does not cover what you thought it did. Therefore I always hire direct online.

Regularly hire in USA all states incl Florida, so if you want more info ok to e-mail.

Final piece of advice. Buy yourself a good USA Road atlas BEFORE you go, study it, work out a route to your hotel and make some easy to understand notes. I use the Collins version bought from Amazon, even the local guys over there reckon its a star buy.

Florida car hire - T Lucas
I will only ever use multinationals,eg Hertz,Avis,National etc,book in UK using credit card and i always phone the rental location 24hrs b4 collection because i am fussy and specific about what i rent on holiday.Never use the local outfits,might look cheaper,rarely is when the bill comes in.
Florida car hire - mab23

Holiday Autos et al are normally cheaper than booking direct, once you've included all the ridiculous insurances, airport user fee, sales tax, blah blah blah. But check around on the web.

Don't use small local outfits, stick with the major national brands (which Holiday Autos etc use).

mike
Florida car hire - Flat in Fifth
The trouble with a lot of these agencies is that they use Dollar which in my book is a complete no no.

Holiday Autos and Sunstyle use Alamo so be selective.

As for agencies always being cheaper, last year we got a Ford Maverick equiv (don't ask!) from Hertz for £25 less than the above agencies wanted for a Mondeo equivelant.

Florida car hire - Aprilia
Have used a number of companies, both in Europe and the US.

Had problems with Hertz in the US (had a Chrysler and a coil pack failed - misfiring - local Hertz agent was very awkward about swapping the car and I lost a day arguing with them).

Also picked up a car with a leaking top hose in Miami - ended up having to stop in a VERY bad area - very nasty experience.

Note that the European hire desks are fairly straightforward, but the US desk staff WILL try to sell you lots of things you don't need.

Personally I have used HolidayAuto the last few times and find them very good indeed - helpful and knowledgable staff when you ring up. Also, when I used them, then included ALL insurances (incl. LDW/CDW) if you book online - you are completely covered down to the last penny.
Florida car hire - Altea Ego
Agree with Aprilla, my last two car hires have been holiday autos, pre booked, no problmes all charges included. Prior to that used Alamo in the states, again they were fine.
Holiday Autos and Florida driving - eMBe {P}

1. Holiday Autos is now part of Lastminute.com, a FTSE350 quoted comppany. If you should have problems, and then they are not resolved by customer care staff, you can ultimately go to the top (you can get details of the main shareholders from their web site, if you do not already know about Allan L, Martha L-F, Brent H, and Co.)

2. A search on this site for "driving in Florida" will bring up previous useful information.
Holiday Autos and Florida driving - smokie
I hired an uncool car - Dodge Neon - through a UK agent for a trip in March. It was £132 all-in for the week, including a discount for flying BA, which I thought was pretty good. When the voucher arrived, the rental was with Dollar (Tampa airport).

On arrival I took the "full tank" option on the basis that whatever they charged me would be much less than I am used to paying, and it saved the the inconvenience of searching for a gas station at night. While I'm not rich, penny pinching didn't appeal, as I'd heard that sometimes cars are given with barely enough fuel to get out of the airport.

I had no problem whatsoever with the car, I was alone so it was adaequate size & power. I did over 1000 miles in a week, and returned the car absolutely filthy inside and out, about which they didn't complain.

The hire documents came from a company called Hire for Lower. I don't think it was their website, but their number is 0207 287 5454. It might have been www.thrifty.com
Holiday Autos and Florida driving - pd
Just a quick note re. American Express. Check very carefully what your own card covers as the terms vary between card levels and whether it is a credit or charge card.

What Amex do certainly offer is North American car hire insurance with their premier travel insurance. This is about £200 annually but if you travel to the USA/Canada a lot can work out cheaper than paying the car hire company - particularly as you'll need some sort of travel insurance anyway.
Holiday Autos and Florida driving - DavidHM
Just as a complete aside, the reason that the rental fleets no longer have the V8 Mustangs is that the 3.8 has grown up in the last couple of years and now has 190 bhp - enough for real performance in a car roughly the size of a Mondeo.

The Chrysler convertibles are also pretty cool in my opinion, although I'd be interested to know why it was suggested that you should avoid Dollar (with its Chrysler fleet) at all costs.
Holiday Autos and Florida driving - T Lucas
I have used Dollar several times in the past and found the level of service can be a bit hit and miss,sometimes the vehicles are not as clean as i would like and the rental desks can get very busy with visiting Brits and so can take a little too long to collect your vehicle.
I once made the mistake of using Holiday Autos(my wife made the booking)and after about a 3 hour wait along with about 40 other Brit families was given a Geo Tracker(Suzuki Vitara)when she had booked an 'American Convertible'took it away that night,called back to office 8am and waited for the 1st Chrysler Lebaron to come back in.
Drove away feeling pleased with myself,all fine until about 10 days into the holiday,cops pulled me and told me the registration was out of date,luckily for me he just told me and let me go.When i got back to the rental office most of the cars in the yard were also out of date.
The Florida company that Holiday Autos used then was called American Car Rental,i think they probably went bust not long after.
Thats why i always use Hertz,Avis,National etc.
Now about getting there,don't get me started about charter airlines!
Holiday Autos and Florida driving - Flat in Fifth
Re Dollar avoidance.

I agree with T Lucas.

Dollar are very popular with UK tour operators so it can take ages queuing at the desk. Depends on airport and time of day to be honest.

Secondly their level of service has been very variable, both in availability of the car you book and the vehicle itself.

Another reason is based on the extreme aggressive attitude of one rental jock. After a long flight I do NOT appreciate with being threatened to have my house taken off me because I refused to take all the insurance add ons.

Another big chain to mention is National. We have some stonking corporate rates with them right now, but their service level is not up to the big names. Not sure about rates for punters though, not that hot last time I checked. Thats not just me speaking but a definite impression throughout the group.

I guess at some time any outfit performs below par but on balance big names for me everytime. Pays yer money takes yer choice.
Holiday Autos and Florida driving - Aprilia
Well, I never tried Dollar, but I lived in the US for a year in the 1980's and rented cars a lot - nearly always from the big names. The desk staff were always agressively selling - I think its part of their training (targets etc.....). I had lots of 'mixed' experiences, but then I think that's just the way the US is. They talk a good game when it comes to service etc., but the reality can be a bit different. When you're sat out in the sticks with a broken down Hertz car, and on the phone to head office (kept waiting 30 mins+) who really don't want to help then all the 'Have a Nice Day's' in the world are no good.

As I said earlier, last two times I went (on business) I used Holiday Auto's and they were very good. I also use them when I go to Munich - they use Europcar (?? sp - the one with the green logo, anyway). They are always fast and efficient and never try to sell me any extras.
Holiday Autos and Florida driving - P E
Thanks for all the advice. I am wary of prepaid vouchers after being stung last year. Have used Budget and Europcar before and never had any problems with them. National I have used once and when the brake lights failed on the car they had no replacement car to give me so I had to hire from another agency (Not that easy at the back of beyond in Northeast Ontario, they refunded the cost). Having read what other people have said I will avoid the smaller companies and

I am able to use a company called www.ello-ello-ello.com which offers car hire to public sector workers so may give them a ring and see if they do things like holiday autos do. Does anyone know anything about them? I think I'll head for one of the biggies, book in advance, avoid getting a rental voucher, and avoid being sold any further cover I don't really need.

I am growing to the idea of getting a Lincoln Town Car.

Thanks again
Patrick
Holiday Autos and Florida driving - JAJ
Small bit of advice but if you rent from the majors - check their web sites first and join whatever frequent renter program they offer. Normally free and if you quote your number when you rent there are some nice benefits.

I commute from UK to Spain each week and rent a car with AVIS. I have joined their 'club' and now my documents are normally ready for me on arrival, I can jump the queue and get seen to first (quickly) and I normally get given at least a one-car upgrade free if they have cars available. Cannot fault their service so agree with people voting for the majors. Hertz offers something similar too.

 

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