I`ve decided to share my experience of renting a car in Germany at Sixt: I’ll tell you in detail how much it costs, which cars are available, what additional services provides the agency and how the whole process goes.
This is my first experience in renting a car, so I can’t do comparisons with other countries or services — there will only be specific figures and facts, flavored with my impressions and subjective evaluations.
What Do You Need to Rent a Car in Europe
For a citizen of any country in the European Union, only 3 things are required:
- Driver’s license issued by a European country;
- Identity card (passport);
- Credit or debit card: Visa or MasterCard.
For citizens from countries outside the European Union, a driver’s license must be additionally translated into the language of the country in which the agency is located and notarized.
The full cost of a rent depends on 3 factors:
- Car class.
- The duration of the rent.
- A set of additional services.
Sixt offers any class of car: from the most compact and cheap (Opel ADAM or VW Up) to the S-class and exclusive (VW Touareg, BMW i8 or even Tesla). Of course, not the entire range and not always is available in the branch that you choose, but you can count on the most popular ones.
It is also worth considering that for each class of car there is a certain minimum of driving experience required. For several primary classes experience is not needed, but for S-class it is already from 1 to 3 years.
Personally, my situation was so that I received a European driver’s license only in December 2018. In this case, the Ukrainian license was taken away for recycling, and the exam was completely re-passed: the theoretical and practical part was fully implemented. Thus, at the time of renting a car at the end of April 2019, I have not yet formally had a year of driving experience. Accordingly, my choice of car classes was limited.
The duration of the rent also greatly affects the price. The same car will cost 85€ per day if you take it only for one day, and will cost 30€ per day if the rent lasts from 7 days. With a long lease (more than 10 days), the price for one day also begins to rise. Thus, it is optimal to take out the rent for 7-10 days. My rent lasted exactly 7 days.
Additional services include many things, the most important of which are: insurance (separately for a car, driver, glass and tires, battery, etc.), a limited or unlimited kilometer counter, a navigator, an additional driver, an automatic transmission, a child seat, diesel auto.
Each service is also counted on a daily basis. For example, full insurance for a car costs from 9€ per day, insurance on glass and tires — 5€ per day, navigator — 9€ per day, child seat — 12€ per day. Prices for each of the additional services may also vary depending on the class of the car and the duration of the rental.
Another important point is the deposit. For middle-class cars, it is 300€, for more expensive — from 500€ and more. The deposit is charged along with the rental fee and returned within 5-7 days after the car’s delivery.
This is another important point, because there is practically no alternative here — the rent and security deposit must be paid from a credit or debit card, which must be issued on the name of the driver. Cash payment is basically impossible.
At the very least, these are the Sixt rules. In other companies there may be other methods of payment, but I suspect that all large firms operate on the same principle.
Here lies one of the main downsides of the car rental service, in my opinion. Sixt offers a choice of car class, but does not allow you to choose a particular brand of car, not mentioning a particular car from those seen with your own eyes. Essentially, you take a cat in a bag. I was lucky with mine, but another time it might be different.
Only a general description of the car is available to the client: the number of doors, the presence of air conditioning, the number of people and how much baggage you can count on, as well as an automatic or manual transmission. By the way, the latter may not be true: in the description of my car, a manual transmission was indicated, but I received an automatic transmission. In my case, it was a pleasant surprise, but which other surprises can happen — one can only guess.
How Goes a Car Rental
Rent can be issued on the agency website or in one of the offices. The site offers a small discount, if you immediately pay with a card when booking. The alternative is to pay at the designated branch on the day and time of the start of the rent (also only with a card, as I already described above).
After a registration, they give you the keys and say where the car is standing in the parking lot. Each branch has parking within walking distance.
You must return the car to the same place in the parking lot, not later than the deadline. If you are late — you have to pay for an extra day.
The car can be returned around the clock: for this, a special box for car keys is installed in the parking lot. You can drive the car at 4 a. m. and throw the keys in the box. The box records the exact time of the keys receipt.
No additional contacts with the company required after this — you will receive a deposit back into your bank account if there are no problems with the car.
My Rental Example
Surely many will be interested in my specific example, so I paint it:
- car class on Sixt classification: CLMR (examples of cars on the website: VW Golf, Mini Countryman);
- car actually received: Opel Grandland X;
- condition of the car: almost new (810 km mileage);
- cost for 7 days: 426€ (221 — rent, 46 — navigator, 91 — insurance, 68 — tax) + 300€ deposit;
- amount of kilometers traveled: 1968 (Dortmund — Paris — Etretat — Dortmund);
- satisfaction level: maximum 🙂