The best car rental in Iceland is the one where you know you’ve managed to walk away with a good deal while simultaneously nailed down the right car rental for you. But the question remains: how do you know how to pick a car rental company?
With what seems like a mountain of choices to make, it can seem like a daunting process. But with our comprehensive guide to renting a car, we’ll help you come to the right decision quicker and get you started on your Icelandic adventure sooner than ever! Here’s everything you need to know.
Things to consider when picking a rental car company
There are several factors that you should consider when choosing a rental car company; here are the most essential ones:
93% of customers read online reviews before buying a product. As such, reviews have become powerful forces for building or breaking a company’s reputation. In the era of the internet, a quick Google scan can help you get a rough idea of how good or bad a company’s service really is.
Dig into Google reviews and TripAdvisor to see a company’s average rating and what the customers have to say about the specific services offered. Check for real, detailed issues. Most reliable reviewers will highlight a few features that they deem to be helpful.
Good customer service is undoubtedly a vital part of any good car rental company. From the very first stage of the rental process until the contract of service is closed, a helpful team will surely guarantee a smooth experience.
So, why risk your whole travel experience by basing your decision solely on the price? We recommend that you contact the customer service team of your selected car rental company. Ask questions, and see how promptly and thoroughly they respond.
If you experience long waiting times, only face automated systems, and have a hard time reaching a human agent, that’s an indicator of bad customer service.
Times are constantly changing; the world facing an unprecedented health crisis in 2020 is just one example. While things are definitely better, you might still come across unexpected challenges and travel disruptions. Opt for a car rental company that offers a flexible cancellation policy and lets you manage your booking with ease.
Another thing to think about is where you’re going to pick up and drop off your hire car. In the case of Iceland, at first, you might assume that you can only do that at Keflavik International Airport. While you definitely can and this is the most convenient option for travelers as it eliminates the need to book the shuttle bus from Reykjavik, if you’re flight gets in late, you might not want to hit the road straight away.
Fortunately, the best Iceland car rental agencies know that collecting a hire car at the airport isn’t the only option.
Book with us, for example, and you might instead opt to pick it up from our Reykjavik office a few days after you’ve arrived, which would give you time to explore the capital city before you set off on your road trip. This way you’ll save a few days’ rental costs and won’t need to worry about finding a suitable parking space if you’re based downtown.
What’s included in the rate?
The matter of how to pick a rental car company also involves comparing rates for the type of vehicle you’re hoping to rent, meaning you’ll get a feel for what’s available. However, make sure you compare like for like to be sure you’re getting the best car rental in Iceland.
Some rental companies, like Cars Iceland, will include certain ‘extras’ as standard, so it’s important that you figure out what add-ons you need before you settle on a deal.
Think about insurance
You might be wondering what makes some car rental companies more expensive than others. Insurance is another essential that involves a number of choices and different rental companies will include different levels of cover as standard. For example, Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) is often included as standard, as is third-party cover and personal accident insurance. But what other add-ons should you think about?
Cars Iceland throws in Super Collision Damage waiver (SCDW) for free, as well as Theft Protection (TP) and Gravel Protection (GP). The latter means you’re covered if a stone that’s flicked up off the road (for instance, by an oncoming car) cracks your windscreen or damages a headlight. Liability Waiver, where the deductible amount is reduced to zero, is popular with those looking for a totally stress-free trip.
If you’re planning to spend some of your trip in areas where there’s a lot of sand and ash that might be blown onto the road or onto your rental car, you might want to consider Sand and Ash Protection (SAAP).
This specialist insurance, costing from just 1500 ISK per day, is an upgrade from the basic package. However, in dry and windy conditions when the risk to your vehicle is highest, many visiting motorists consider it well worth the additional cost. Sandstorms are most common in the south of Iceland, which is firmly on the tourist trail, so if you think you might be touring this part of the country, it’s something to take seriously.
Don’t overlook the small print
Nowadays, we are met with long-winded terms and conditions and it can be tempting to ignore them. But it’s important when you pick a rental car company to be across the finer details.
Are there any exclusions, for instance, on the age of the driver? What happens if you refuel incorrectly or a stone chip cracks your windscreen? If you return the car later than agreed, will you incur any financial penalties?
These are just some of the things to think about, so read your rental agreement carefully and if you have any questions, ask an agent to clarify or explain what you don’t fully understand. Even the best car rental company in Iceland will still expect you to stick to the rules, so it’s always good to make sure you’re fully informed.
How do you get a good deal on a rental car?
To make sure you get the best car rental in Iceland, start by bearing in mind these essential points:
Time your trip at the most cost-effective time
The highest prices for car rentals are always going to coincide with peak periods around public holidays and of course, during the summer. When there’s more competition for the vehicles, companies ration them out by raising their rates–supply and demand. Conversely, when the cars would just be sitting around with no one to drive them, they’ll be cheaper to rent.
Book as early as possible
This means if you’re planning to come to Iceland, especially in summer, you’re far more likely to get a better deal if you book as early as possible. That’s especially true if you’re planning to rent one of the most desirable kinds of car – the cheapest city runabout, for instance, or the best-value SUVs.
If you want to be able to choose from all categories, make sure you’re looking before some of them sell out. The decision about how to pick a car rental company is made easier if you plan ahead.
How to know which type of car rental is best?
Before you consider how to rent a car in Iceland, it’s really important to ask yourself questions like “what are good car rental companies?” and “what type of car rental is best?” There are a number of considerations to factor in to your decision, so ask yourself questions such as these before you make your choice:
Will it be necessary to rent a 4x4?
One of the biggest misconceptions about getting the best deal on car rental in Iceland is that you absolutely must rent a SUV or a 4x4. Despite the popularity of this advice, it is not actually true.
When it comes to which type of car rental is best, though an SUV is sometimes necessary, often you’ll be perfectly fine with a cheaper 2WD vehicle. SUVs are often dearer, so while it might be nice to drive around in one, potentially it’s an expense that you can cut down.
You’ll appreciate a 4X4 if a lot of the driving you intend on doing takes place on steep, gravel roads or in conditions that are likely to result in slippery roads, such as winter driving when it’s icy. Basically, anything where you think a bit of extra grip would be a bonus.
So how would you know? At the official site of the Icelandic road authority, you can take a look at an Icelandic road map in detail and also get a handle on weather conditions. Each segment can be inspected from the comfort of your living room armchair; there are even webcams displaying the current situation.
Figuring out whether you’re likely to be on heavily trafficked tarmac or out of the way rural back roads goes a long way to helping you choose the right vehicle.
4x4 vehicles for those infamous F roads
If you’re keen to check out Iceland’s mountainous interior, you’ll need a vehicle that can cope with its F-Roads. These tend to open around June and close in September, though the exact date varies according to the conditions. Even in good weather, they are challenging to drive on. If you’re a relatively inexperienced driver, the potholes and streams that you’ll need to navigate might be out of the question.
F roads are nowhere near as well-maintained as routes like the Ring Road are, which means that you can’t take all kinds of vehicles up there. Indeed, to self-drive, you’ll need a high clearance 4x4. However, there are plenty of specialist tour operators that will take you up there – and off-road in super jeeps too – so there’s no reason you couldn’t rent a more modest hire car and take an excursion or two when you’re ready.
Big or small?
Size has a direct correlation to comfort when it comes to making sure you have the best car rental in Iceland. Even if you book with the best car rental company in Iceland, if you drove away in a tiny compact car with four friends and a whole lot of luggage, you’d soon be feeling grumpy at the lack of space and probably the lack of acceleration.
If you’re a solo adventurer, on the other hand, who likes to travel light and is planning to amble around the attractions of the Ring Road, that city economy car would most likely still be just fine even if you coax it out of Reykjavik. Before you settle on a car and get that reservation pinned down, take a look at the specifications and work out how much space you’re realistically going to need for everyone and their bags.
Choosing the right car rental company
While the process of renting a car is simple, choosing the right rental company is not always an easy task. If you’re looking at how to pick a rental car company, we’re happy to help.
Get in touch and let us help you work out what vehicle best suits your needs. You’ll be picking up the keys and hitting the road before you know it!