Renting a Car in Provence? Be Sure to Comparison Shop First

IMG_0650We’re discovering the quotes for renting a car can vary widely and wildly in Provence.

Kathy and I heading out on the road again next week, so I called up a few websites this morning in search of a car to rent in Aix.  I found the price differences to be startling.

First, I looked on Orbitz to rent car from Monday, April 7, through Wednesday, April 9.  The quotation for a mini at Hertz in Aix-en-Provence was $111 total for the three days. At the Marseille airport, it was $142.  Next I looked at Expedia, where an economy car from Hertz — the same company — for the same three days was listed at roughly $285 (Expedia had no listing for a mini).

I was curious whether the rates changed day to day, so I typed in Tuesday, April 8, through Thursday, April 10, on Orbitz. Sure enough, this time, in the city of Aix, the Hertz quote came up at $83.

I wondered at the time why Europcar, the rental company with an office nearest to our apartment, was no longer listed on Orbitz.  But I didn’t want to futz around anymore so I booked Hertz.

Well, I just looked again (it’s 5:30 p.m.) and Europcar is offering a mini rental rate of $64 from Monday, April 7, through Wednesday, April 9, on Orbitz.  Meanwhile, the Hertz rate for those three days had dropped from $111 this morning to $83.  Go figure.

Since I rented through Orbitz, which doesn’t ask for payment up front, I still have time to change companies.  That is why I prefer Orbitz to the supposed discount sites such as www.kayak.com, which require payment for a car up front. That locks the renter in. In any case, the rates on Kayak, I’ve discovered, are higher and are from Marseille Airport.  Case closed.

The next decision in renting a car is insurance. Here the variations also are wide.  On the Orbitz site, it’s possible to get car insurance through a company called Allianz Global Assistance for $9 a day.  EuropCar told me it charges 13 euros, about $18 a day. But in truth, if I’m willing to deal with the hassle of paying up front and being reimbursed should I get in an accident, my Visa Gold credit card provides insurance at no charge as long as I decline the rental car company’s version.

Bottom line: Know your insurance coverage in advance. If your credit card covers an accident, you’ll save a lot of money. And compare several companies and rental sites before choosing a car.

The prices seem to not only fluctuate, but sometimes do so within the same day.

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