10 Mistakes To Avoid When Renting A Car In A Foreign Country

It’s no secret that the best way to see a new country is by renting a car and hitting the open road. But if you’re not prepared, you could wind up making some costly mistakes.

On that note, here are ten of the most common ones to avoid.

1. Failing To Read The Rental Agreement Thoroughly

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When renting a car in a foreign country, it’s important to read the rental agreement thoroughly. This document outlines the terms and conditions of the rental, including restrictions on where you can drive the car and what you’re liable for in the event of an accident. If you don’t read the agreement carefully, you may not be aware of these restrictions and could end up getting into trouble with the rental company.

2. Not Understanding The Country’s Traffic Laws

Before renting a car in a foreign country, it’s important to familiarize yourself with that country’s traffic laws. In some countries, such as France or UAE, there are many uncommon traffic laws that can catch foreigners off guard.

For example, in France, it is illegal to honk your horn except in emergencies, and you can receive a hefty fine if you are caught doing so. In fact, you may expect to pay about $150 if you honk without a good reason. Additionally, if you rent a car from One Click Drive a car rental UAE company, you must first learn that camels have the right of way on the street.

So before you hit the road in a foreign country, be sure to familiarize yourself with its traffic laws so you don’t wind up getting into trouble.

3. Overlooking Insurance Coverage

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Most rental companies require you to purchase their insurance coverage, which can be expensive. However, sometimes it’s necessary. As the old adage says, “It’s better to be safe than sorry”, and that’s kind of a perfect policy when renting a car abroad.

On the other hand, if you have your own insurance policy that covers rental cars or even credit card coverage that does, make sure to ask the car rental company if they will accept it because in most cases they will. If you don’t ask, you could be stuck paying for an expensive coverage you don’t really need.

4. Forgetting To Check For Hidden Fees

When renting a car in a foreign country, it’s important to be aware of the various fees that may be associated with the rental. For example, some rental companies charge a fee for dropping off the car at a different location than where you picked it up. Others charge an additional fee if you want to extend your rental period.

So before you sign any paperwork, be sure to ask the rental company about all the potential fees that may apply. This way, you won’t be surprised by any unexpected charges when you return the car.

5. Not Filling Up The Tank By Yourself

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When renting a car in a foreign country, it’s important to be aware that you may be charged for an “empty tank”. In other words, the rental company may charge you for the amount of gas that fills the tank to the brim, instead of how much gas they actually need to put into it. Moreover, rental car companies will charge more money per gallon, so that’s another thing to keep in mind.

To avoid this, fill up the tank on the way over. Stop at the gas station nearest to the car rental place and fill up the tank to the brim. That way – you’re safe from any additional charges.

6. Returning The Car Late Or Damaged

When renting a car, be sure to return it on time. If you don’t, you could wind up paying a hefty fine. For example, most rental companies charge an additional fee for every day past the agreed-upon return date. So if you have a five-day rental and you return the car six days later, you’ll be charged for an extra day.

Additionally, be sure to return the car in the same condition as when you received it. If there’s any damage to the car, you may be responsible for paying for repairs. So if you’re involved in an accident or even just scratch the paint, be sure to let the rental company know right away, as that could minimize the “damage” to your wallet.

7. Taking A Rental Over The Border

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Another mistake people often make when renting a car in a foreign country is taking it over the border. While it may seem like a good idea at the time, doing so can actually be very costly.

For example, rental companies often charge a pretty hefty fee for driving the car out of the country. Plus, you’ll also have to pay for any tolls or border-crossing fees. So unless you’re absolutely positive you won’t need to take the car over the border, it’s probably best to just avoid doing so.

8. Carelessly Connect Your Phone To The Car Via Bluetooth

While this might seem like a pretty straightforward thing to do – you may want to take a step back for a second. Connecting your phone to a car via Bluetooth may result in most of your data getting stored in the car’s memory. So, unless you want to next guy to rent the car to have your mom’s or kids’ number – you’ll make sure you pair your device the right way.

9. Paying Extra For GPS Features

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Nowadays, every car has some sort of GPS system. However, what they have is the ability to enable and disable this feature, which some car rental properties use to upsell you a navigation tablet or any other GPS device. But, unless you’re planning on driving completely off-the-grid, there’s really no need to pay extra for this feature. Just use your phone’s GPS and Google Maps and you’ll be fine.

10. Taking Scenic Routes Instead Of The Quickest Route

Sure, enjoying the scenery is a must when you’re visiting a foreign country, but is it a financially responsible thing to do? Probably not.

If you’re planning on going off the beaten path, make sure your rental car insurance covers any damage that might occur. Otherwise, you could be left with a hefty bill. Additionally, taking scenic routes will likely add more mileage to the car. And, as we all know, some rental companies charge by the mile. So unless you want to pay more than you need to, just stick to the main roads.


Renting a car in a foreign country doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. Just avoid these 10 mistakes and you’ll be fine. Drive safe!