Understanding car hire cancellation

Cancelling car hireShould you need to cancel a car rental for any reason, understanding all of the terms involved plays an essential role in ensuring you get as much of your money back as possible.

While most rental companies say they offer ‘free cancellation’, what is actually meant by this can vary wildly and you’ll quickly discover there are limits to what ‘free’ means.

In some instances, you may be able to get your money back, although other factors will also come into play, including:

  1. When you booked
  2. When you cancel
  3. Where you are hiring
  4. The rental company involved

It’s therefore vital that you check the terms and conditions when booking your car hire and to seek clarity if there is any point you are unsure of.

What ‘free cancellation’ actually means

Typically, ‘free cancellation’ may be offered in two ways – either meaning it must be cancelled in a fixed period after making the booking or that it can be cancelled up until a certain point prior to travel.

If you have to cancel within a set time, for instance, seven days, you could get your money back should you need to cancel within that time.

However, once that free-cancellation period is over, a cancellation fee will apply, meaning you will get a refund minus the money required to cover the fee.

The alternative is to have the option of cancelling up until a certain point before you collect the car – this could be 24 hours beforehand, 72 hours before etc. and this will vary by rental company.

Likewise, if you miss the deadline you’ll need to pay a fee which will be taken from the total you paid which is due to be refunded.

Avoiding cancellation fees

You may not need to worry about cancellation fees if you didn’t pay up-front. This applies in the USA and Canada for example when payment is often taken upon collection of the car, rather than when the booking is made.

You may also want to consider car hire excess insurance when booking, as this will cover against the excess you would need to pay should the hire vehicle be damaged or stolen.

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Date Created: 04 October 2018