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renting a car in Austria

We are 3 adults (late 50s early 60s) and planning a trip this September. Flying into Budapest (4 nights), train to Bratislava (1 night), train to Vienna then rent a car. We want to do some day hikes and will be staying in the Bad Ischl area for 4 nights. (We are open to suggestions of hikes/activities in that area or a day trip by car away.) Then need to decide whether to return car to Vienna and train to Prague ( nights), or instead drive to Linz and return car there and take a chauffeur to Prague. (This option saves us travel time.)
So, anyone have suggestions on car rental companies? Or whether it is feasible to pick up car in Vienna and return it to Linz?
Many thanks,

Posted by
16894 posts

It should be no problem and no additional charge to pick up a car in Vienna and return it to Linz, so I would go that way. I usually get a rental price quote from Auto Europe. There are also a couple of slow-but-direct trains to Prague, 5 hours, departing Linz at 11:30 and 15:30 daily.

Posted by
8234 posts

I would turn the car in at Linz, but I wouldn't get any chauffeur to Prague. I'd get one of the Cesky Krumlov van companies to take me. They service a vast area from Salzburg to Vienna to Budapest and up to Prague. They're much more reasonably priced, and they're also great tour guides. Don't forget to stop off at the C/K for an authentic old style European town.
For the rental car, I'd check with AutoEurope.com and Hertz.com. If you're a member of Hertz' free frequent renter club, you'll get a discount. And most often, AutoEurope will be putting you into a Hertz car anyway. Go with whoever's cheaper.

Posted by
69 posts

If you reserve online make sure you read all the fine print. In 2013 we reserved a car to be picked up at MUC airport. Usually your credit card will cover your insuarance but Dollar rental car required a written letter from our credit card company and would not budge on that. The insurance they offered was far more expensive than the the rental itself and I felt I was being scammed. I don't remember the figure but it was astronomical!

Luckily, all the car rental companies were in one spot and Europcar was accommodating. The rental we paid was higher than what I had originally gotten from Dollar but they didn't try to scam us, either. That first hour after landing was extremely stressful due to this and I couldn't even have a beer because I had to drive! I had to drive the whole trip because I was the only one in our group who could drive a manual transmission.

Of course, that's been two years ago and I'm not sure if the same situation would apply now, but be sure to read the fine print when reserving or call in advance!

Posted by
31 posts

We just rented a car this summer from Vienna airport and got the best deal at Thrifty.

Posted by
10 posts

Thank you all... I spent this morning contacting all of my credit card companies to see what insurance coverage they offered. (My own car insurance company said that I am not covered on my policy outside of North America.) Found out that one has no coverage, two have secondary coverage (so that they would pick up the costs not covered by primary, such as deductible), and two provide primary coverage, but only for theft and collision, but not liability. According to them I only need to purchase liability coverage and should therefore decline CDW...

I will check with other companies. So far I have checked with Europcar and Autoeurope. Will also look into Thrifty. No problem for us driving standard transmissions - we all grew up with them...

Posted by
8234 posts

I always try to avoid airport location rentals, as they'll always come with substantial additional expenses or taxes. I'd suggest picking the car up as you're leaving Vienna in a center city location. As far as car brands, I have a tendency to stick with AutoEurope.com or Hertz.com. If you join Hertz' frequent user club (free), you can get a discount on the rental. And more often than not, going through AutoEurope will get you a Hertz car, so you can take the lowest total price.
If your own car insurance will not cover you in Europe, an option would be to use American Express card and pay a flat amount for CDW insurance--something like $25. You might want to call your to see if they cover rental cars as primary if your insurance company doesn't cover the rental car. Let me warn you that even if you have proper insurance, some European rental car agencies will automatically add "theft insurance" on personal belongings inside the car at ridiculous prices.
Some "famous" rental car agencies in Europe do business different from their "parent company" in the U.S. due to their being franchises. That's why I try to stick with European car rentals that are not franchised, as they're more dependable. Sounds as if Thrifty is trying to stick it to you to buy their CDW--which I assume is ridiculously priced.

Posted by
5450 posts

We always rent from Sixt, which is a major German rental agency. Nice cars and nice service as well as good prices. As a bonus, they have several locations in town, including at the Hauptbahnhof, where you will arrive from B'slava. No need, then, to go back out to the airport, which is again halfway back to B'slava.

Posted by
328 posts

We've rented through Auto Europe (Hertz and Avis) and both times felt we were scammed a bit at the end for different reasons. Every other recent trip (roughly 6), we have rented from Sixt. We have been very happy with the service and found everything clear and honest with respect to insurances and checking the car at drop off. We find their prices are comparable, and often better, than the others mentioned.