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Car rental companies in France

Just a general question. We are renting a car for or trip to France this May as we have done in prior years. What is the difference or advantage of using Autoeurope as the middleman to rent the car vs. renting directly from the Car Rental company (Europecar, Avis, etc) itself ??
Also, I have insurance coverage through my credit card....do I need to purchase coverage from the rental car company ???

Thanks,
BT

Posted by
3858 posts

I can't speak to using AutoEurope vs direct, because both times we rented, we just used AutoEurope (and Europcar was the renter).

As for having insurance via your credit card. Just make sure you read the fine print/understand the rules. I always book everything when we travel and just use my cc. I used my Amex for our car rental in 2015. Why wouldn't I? I mean, we're married, so what's the diff? Well, hubby was the only driver and got a big scrape on the car in a parking garage. When I contacted Amex (it was about 400 euro for the damage) I didn't think that they would cover it because...my husband was the driver and I should have used HIS card to book the rental - which I didn't know at time of booking. Luckily, in the end, they did come thru for us, but make sure you look into the ins and outs. If you aren't sure, I'd call the cc company and ask what you should be doing.

And I also learned in that case - I should have just contacted AutoEurope for the invoices/photos for the damage and whatnot. I tried over and over to contact Europcar with no success. Was finally just going to toss my hands in the air and give up when I got in touch with AutoEurope and I had the info within a few days. (Obviously I should have contacted AE first, since they were the ones I booked thru).

Posted by
7076 posts

Renting a car is the one situation in which I use a middleman: AutoEurope or Kemwel. We've been using them for about twenty years. During that time we've had two or three disputes over charges with the rental companies, Europcar or National's affiliate (forget the name). Each time AE has gotten it straightened out and we were reimbursed. It was much easier than calling a company in Europe and being put on hold while they check.

Posted by
523 posts

I have always had excellent experience renting from Europcar. And in general, I would always prefer to deal directly with the people I will be doing business with, not a middleman.

Posted by
118 posts

I used Europcar for that past few times I rented in France and found them very reliable

Posted by
2855 posts

You could substitute my name for Bets and the post would be virtually identical. The times I've had billing issues (always with Europcar I believe), Auto Europe has stepped in and straightened it out. And I find that the rates through AE/Kemwel are generally lower than renting direct. For flights I would never go through a middleman, and for hotels I probably do it 50/50, but for auto rental I've almost always gone through a middleman.
As to insurance, I've always used my credit card until recently. The one time I needed it, I was never able to collect, due to Europcar refusing to furnish the requested documentation. Fortunately it wasn't a huge amount. But the last 2 times I've taken the insurance as part of the AE booking process.

Posted by
4394 posts

I've never had a problem with Auto Europe. It's easier to contact them in the US. They let you make changes after you book. I got free GPS (device mailed to my home before departure) on a promotion once. But I've also never had a dispute with the rental company about charges or damage. Which means I've been lucky about insurance, relying on my credit card but never having a claim. The main thing is to read the agreement carefully and use the card to rent the car. I have two cards, one covers cars rented up to two weeks, the other up to three weeks -- the one I used for a long-term rental.

Posted by
1700 posts

For most people it comes down to price.
It is wise to check both the sites directly with any discount codes you may have as well as Auto Europe.

The main benefit Auto Europe offers is that they in most all cases sell insurance through the car rental company for much less expensive than at the counter. Many of the car rental companies will not even sell the extra insurance online.
If you plan on using your credit card's coverage, that is fine as long as you read the fine print and understand the coverage, in this case Auto Europe's biggest cost benefit would be gone.

By understand I mean that you will have to pay a large sum on your card as a hold, 1500 euro I believe is the current figure if you buy nothing and state the credit card as your coverage. No damage, hold off. Damage, charge goes against your card and then you need to deal with your card, get receipts, etc... to get the money back.
If you don't have that much excess credit available, then the credit card coverage may not work.
Compared to the car rental coverage where in most cases you have a much smaller hold and if fully covered you walk away never having to deal with paperwork or anything else to spoil your trip and post trip experience.

Other than lower cost insurance, the other benefits are smaller but for some may be valuable:
They have US based customer service to help you out if there are any issues. Sometimes this extra party on your side can be beneficial and Hertz or Avis France is run completely independent from the US Headquarters.

They often offer a free or very low cost GPS program, I was not crazy about they way they do it, so don't consider a benefit, some might (they ship you a preloaded/mapped garmin type device for you to take on your trip and send back to them in Maine after)

As far as benefits of using the car company direct:
Price (sometimes they will be cheaper for you, sometimes they will not)
No prepay. You reserve with no deposit and pay at the counter. Auto Europe requires full prepayment, is fully refundable but still ties up your cash sooner.

Everything I stated would apply in most every country in Europe, not just France.

Posted by
3858 posts

Robert...I had that issue as well trying to get info from Europcar after our rental damage...AutoEurope had it to me within a few days once I finally contacted them.

Posted by
2899 posts

Twice rented directly from Budget using credit car insurance.

I don’t understand the first post. If you rent thru AutoEurope with your credit card then you have prepaid and FIXED the primary driver as you, which cannot be changed at time of rental, to a spouse. But you can add the spouse as a driver for extra money at time if rental.

Unless Nicole did that, her husband was not an authorized driver and the credit card insurance was not in effect. This is one of the drawbacks of prepaying, with AutoEurope or the agency.

If renting directly from the company with a reservation only, the primary driver can be changed at pickup to match a credit card.

Bottom line: if prepaying and only using one driver, pay with card in driver’s name for credit card insurance to be in effect.

Posted by
159 posts

Thanks for all the great advice. I typically rent the cars through Autoeurope and have had great experiences with them. My problem now is trying to pick up our car in Nantes. The only place that Autoeurope can get me a car is out of the Nantes airport, which is quite a distance from the city itself, and a hassle to get to as we arrive in Nantes by train and are staying in the city center.
Avis and Europecar both have locations at Gare de Nantes, but for some reason I'm unable to rent a car through Autoeurope at the train station location. When I spoke to a rep from Autoeurope, they could only offer the car at the airport location. Hmmm.
I guess I may have to go through Europecar.
BT

Posted by
3858 posts

Well, all I can tell you is I now know that. I can't quite remember what Europcar asked at the time about the driver (it was 2015 and things were a bit hectic because our train ended up delayed about 3 hrs before arriving in Avignon, so we were flustered and running late). I recall Europcar taking a cc for the 'damage deposit' thing that they do (where they charge a hold to your cc) and them saying it didn't matter which card we gave them (didn't have to be the Amex).

Amex ultimately came thru and covered us - which they didn't have to do, but props to them that they did. I'll use them for our next rentals (and will make sure to use my husband's card).

Posted by
2855 posts

Nicole, you're lucky that AE was able to get you the needed info. In my case, they tried and were unable to. Although the next time I had a billing issue with Europcar, AE was able to get my the desired info almost immediately.

Posted by
1700 posts

OP: it is odd AE cannot rent from the train location where Europcar (no E which is what I assume you mean) and Avis both have locations.
You have called it sounds like, so not much more you can do.

Since most car rental bookings are cancellable without penalty it is best to book direct in your case and then as the time gets closer check back and see if AE can offer it at a later date and then compare the prices.