outrageous rent-a-car in online travel era

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Photo: Sixt site

Renting a car is quite a usual thing when you are travelling. However it can be tricky to get one if you don’t own a credit card with enough plafond to meet the rent-a-cars requirements.

Low-cost and extras

As a first annoying episode, I recently rented a car through a so-called “low cost” rent-a-car, but when arriving to their office to sign the contract and collect the car, the amount of credit on my credit card was required to reach 3000,00 euros, which is, for most Portuguese, a high amount. I can say that I have three credit cards, none of them reach that amount. I had to agree to an extra insurance to get the car, and it eventually came to a daily cost that had nothing of low-cost after all.

Collecting the car

But there’s more. All collection of car is only possible if you present THE credit card or if you leave a certain amount of cash as a guarantee, which usually goes from 500 to 1000 euros. The first value represent more than 1x the minimum monthly wage in Portugal, the second one needs no comment.

Twice this month, I needed to get a car to a family member who was in Lisbon, in an emergency visit to another family member in a hospital outside Lisbon. The car was a must. The person has no credit card and not enough cash to leave 500 euros, let alone 1000.

So, I wanted to make a reservation online, for which I would use my credit card. I am in Madeira Island, the person was in Lisbon. You know what? I couldn’t managed to help this relative, because THE same credit card that is used on the reservation must be presented when the driver collects the car!

Rent-a-cars like Avis, Europcar, HertzBudget, Sixt (usually the ones that have offices in the airports) do not accept to give a car to the driver if the owner of the credit card is not live in person in face of them.

Credit card data for what?

I consider this situation as really awkward. We can buy everything online with a credit card. We buy airline tickets, train tickets, boat tickets, cinema tickets, clothes, cars, books, food, flowers, we pay electricity and gas, whatever … but you can’t get a car for someone in need, even when you give all details of your credit card including the security code, on a reservation made through a rent-a-car site!

A tip

The only way to overcome this difficulty is to get, in advance, a full-credit voucher from a travel agency. This requires that you are a trustworthy customer, meaning you have to be a usual customer of the agency. Also, if the agency works on Saturdays and Sundays, which is not often the case.

What about safety payments?

This is not acceptable for me. I urge the well-known international rent-a-car companies to revise these payment conditions in order to meet customers’ needs in an era of frequent travelers all over the world. If I can buy an airline ticket with my credit card to a passenger other than me and I get the ticket immediately and the passenger makes the trip, why can’t I get a car to be delivered to an identified driver other than myself?  I also think it’s not acceptable that they require the credit card data online and then they don’t accept to deliver the required service. In my opinion, this is ridiculous and outrageous.

What do you think about this? Have you ever faced a similar difficulty? How did you deal with it? Leave your comments.

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