Large rent-a-car price gaps disclosed

Holidaymakers intending to rent a car have been urged to book online and in advance.

The Upper Austrian department of the Federal Labour Chamber (AK) said today (Thurs) people could save up to 15 per cent if they reserved the vehicles on the internet and paid by credit card before starting their holidays. The AK added it was essential to compare prices on homepages of companies based in Austria, Germany and the holiday destination.

The institution said the lowest price gap in its most recent check was found for providers of rented cars on the Greek holiday island of Kos. The AK, which browsed for vehicles of a relatively low price category, said rates ranged between 221 and 334 Euros on Kos for the first week of August.

Firms offering rented cars on Gran Canaria, a Spanish holiday hotspot, were attacked by the AK at the same time. The organisation explained tourists must pay up to 398 Euros for a small vehicle for a week there. The AK stressed that, apart from the relatively high price, it was critical about the large differences as the cheapest trader offered a weekly rate of 118 Euros there.

Speaking about its detailed investigation criteria, the AK explained it searched for rented cars including full insurance and unlimited mileage. Several islands in Greece and Spain were checked. Malta, Cyprus, Lisbon in Portugal and other popular holiday destinations were investigated in this regard as well, according to the AK’s Upper Austrian branch.

The AK’s report also points out that many firms would confront drivers aged 25 and younger with surcharges. Companies asking for more money for luggage racks on the roof of cars and children’s seats were not a rarity either.

A study by the Institute for Leisure and Tourism Research (IFT) and drivers association ÖAMTC revealed that, with 29 per cent, nearly one out of three Austrians had no holiday plans for this year. The survey showed that especially people with a low income would not go on vacation in 2011. The poll indentified Austria as the most popular destination among those who intend to take a break. Italy, Spain and Croatia were also found to be popular in the survey which was presented in March.