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Leasing vs. Renting a Car--Oops!

Does anyone have experience with leasing vs. renting a car in France? We plan to pick up in the Tours area and drop in Strausbourg after driving through Dordogne, Provence, Burgundy and Alsace for 29 days. Avis limits mileage to 4000 km for the trip and includes insurance, which makes it spendy. Auto Europe is more expensive but has unlimited mileage and does not add insurance (about $1,000 USD for a small fiat). I searched the RS website and can't find any recent answers or information. Merci!

Posted by
94 posts
Posted by
1605 posts

Kay, I once leased for roughly the same period of time as you are looking at. With Peugeot, Renault and Citroen, I believe there are specific pick-up and drop off points. Tours to Strasbourg may not work for you. I leased from these folks - http://eurocartt.com/en/home Booked and that was it, transaction at the Europcar counter.

Posted by
16894 posts

I don't believe that much about the leasing offer or experience has changed lately. A number of Forum commenters have been satisfied with whichever of the three French automakers they leased from, as reported on some of the links you found. AutoEurope handles both rentals and leases on a separate tabs of their web site: https://www.autoeurope.com/peugeot-open-europe-lease/. I don't know whether you're trying to avoid buying insurance but it is included in the lease programs. Rick's summary of the topic is at https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/transportation/car-leasing.

Posted by
784 posts

I leased directly through the Peugeot program. We were in France for a little over 5 weeks. We picked the car up at Orly and dropped it off at CDG. Both were as simple as renting. It is basically a lease/buy-back. When you pick up, the car is registered in your name. When you drop it off, you "sell" it back. Advantages - at least these were the case when I leased:
You pick out the car you want. Automatic, no problem. A specific model, you get it, not whatever is left on the lot.
You get a brand new car.
All insurance is included.
Unlimited mileage.
It can be less expensive than renting.

I did the entire process online and it went very smoothly, without a hitch. For a 3 week plus trip, I think it is the best way to go.

Posted by
38 posts

We leased automatic Citroens twice through EurocarTT. We coordinated the leases (selected the vehicle, paid for it) before we left home. In both cases, we picked up and dropped off the car at CDG airport, but I know that they have pick up/drop off locations all over France. The whole process was really easy, and as others have mentioned, insurance is included in the cost and there is no limit on the mileage. They also offered a 24/7 helpline with English-speaking operators if we ever got in trouble. We never needed this but it was comforting to know that it was available.

When we arrived at CDG, we went to the car rental area in terminal 2A, and I think the counter we went to had a sign with EurocarTT on it. Nobody was manning the counter, but there was a phone that we picked up that immediately connected us to the company. They sent a vehicle to pick us up (including our luggage) and dropped us off at the car pick up location. We produced the paperwork that that we had previously been instructed to bring, and then they brought the car around. We received quick instructions on how the car works (GPS, what type of fuel to use, etc), and then were on our way. 3 weeks later, when we dropped off the car, we drove it straight to where we had picked it up, unloaded our luggage, handed in the keys, and then got a ride to our airport hotel.

I'll also note that on our second lease, on the second day, the mechanism for opening the car's hatchback manually broke and a few pieces of it fell into my hand. We figured out another way to open the hatchback that did not require that mechanism, so that did not interfere with our trip. When we returned the car, we told them about it and they merely said "oh, that's not your problem, it's not our problem, it's Citroen's problem," then tossed the pieces that we had saved into the trunk and closed it. Easy peasy.

Posted by
41 posts

Since you are from Vancouver, WA - a bedroom suburb of Portland- take a look at IdeaMerge. Very successfully leased 3 times in the past, planning a 4th come April. All very positive experiences, and the no-deductible insurance is really what they advertise. A no-brainer if you ask me, as it takes the stress out of securing a vehicle of your choice at a price that blows rental out of the water.

Posted by
10304 posts

TT is the leasing company. AutoEurope, Renault USA are all agencies that arrange your lease for you with TT. So use whichever agency you like that carries the make of car you like. We’ve used Renault USA and AutoEurope for Peugeot, both completely on-line.

Posted by
12172 posts

I've leased and rented. Here are some things I've surmised from my experience.

Rental cars are cheaper for low end cars. As you go up to nicer classes of cars, rental prices increase drastically. With a lease, it's based on start and end value (like any other lease). If you need a nice or extra large car or van, a lease might end up being a better deal.

Leases have no pick-up or drop charges if both are in France (at least they didn't when I leased) and drops in other countries are much more reasonable than with rentals. French rentals now seem to have drop charges if you pick up in one French city and drop in another. I recently rented in Toulouse and dropped in Bordeaux and couldn't find an option without a drop charge.

Leases come with CDW in the price. With rentals it's additional. I have an American Express that offers full CDW for $25 (one time charge) on up to a 40 day rental - so a real money saver. It's only available on some of their cards (used to have Costco, switched to an Everyday Cash to keep the service). Because it's an insurance sale, not every state allows it. I had my first damage in June, so we'll see if it works as advertised?

Leases are with either Renault or Peugeot. There are some qualifiers. At least 17 days and, I think, no longer than six months, you have to not live in Europe, and maybe a few others.

When I rent, unlimited mileage seems to be normal. Most often I check all the options then go with the best deal (I'm not a loyal customer). When searching in France, I noticed if you select a pick up or drop off at off hours, a rental company won't even show as an option. Even in fairly large cities (e.g. Rouen), rental car agents will close for a long lunch - so a search to pick up and drop off at noon will show much fewer options than a search to pick up and drop off at 10 AM or 3 PM.

Posted by
2916 posts

Brad's comment has a lot of useful information. When I leased a car in France about 20+ years ago, the price advantage for leasing over renting seemed to start a little past the minimum number of days (I think it was 17). But the last times I did a comparison, it seemed like it was closer to a month for a lease to make a significant difference, at least for the class of car I was looking for. You do have a limited number of locations where you can pick up the car (maybe there are more choices for dropping it off). All in all, I'd definitely recommend leasing if the price and location works. And by the way, I've never had a mileage (or kilometerage) limit on all the rentals I've done in France. I assume you'd be able to avoid that.

Posted by
94 posts

OMG! There are so many good tips in this posting that I hardly know where to begin with my gratitude. Thank you, all, for taking the time to write up your comments. Brad...over the top help! We usually rent smaller cars so we'll have to see how it compares with something a little larger. We have found that having a larger vehicle on small, one-track roads is not fun. Nor is finding parking. It adds to the stress. The limited mileage is new to us. We've never encountered it. The husband called Avis directly and got the scoop that it exists, especially in the fine print. With all the driving we want to do hither and yon, we're worried about that mileage piece. We are also being mindful of the agent hours. The advice from everyone that leasing vs. renting is easy, was very reassuring! Merci Beaucoup mes amis!

Posted by
8173 posts

We rented a couple of years ago for a month and so checked out leases and rentals; when I asked on line a couple of people mailed me experiences of leasing and having a major breakdown and not having a car for an extended period as it was 'their car' so they had to deal with having it repaired rather than just picking up another rental. For us the costs were roughly even so we just rented. We didn't pay a drop fee. But in years of renting even cross borders we never did (our last cross border drop we were taking a car that belonged in Paris 'home' from Amsterdam and so they waived the drop fee (whch we had been prepared to pay). They are definitely adding more drop fees as one more may to gouge the customer.

Posted by
2916 posts

a couple of people mailed me experiences of leasing and having a major breakdown and not having a car for an extended period as it was 'their car' so they had to deal with having it repaired

I can't imagine that situation being a factor in someone's decision whether to lease or rent. As far as I know, leased cars are all brand new, so the chance of having a breakdown would be close to zero.

Posted by
189 posts

I've leased twice before and will pick up a Renault in Toulouse on August 31. Never had a problem with the cars or the lease. The last time we were traveling with two teenagers with lots of baggage so it was nice to pick out exactly what we wanted and know that's what we would get. It's turned out in each lease they would program into the gps the turn in location for me which made it much easier especially at CDG.

Posted by
10304 posts

I have considered what Janet is writting about, not breakdowns, but if the leasee has an accident and the car is out of commission, it is insured but there’s no replacement. You have to wait while it’s repaired. Of course, on the other hand, if you have an accident that incpacitates a car while renting... be prepared for a lot of hassle unless you have the company’s full insurance. Two sides to every coin.

Posted by
711 posts

My husband and I had a horrible problem with a leased Peugeot about 8 years ago. We are the people that related our story to Bets and Janet I believe. Without relating the long sordid experience these are things to remember...if you lease a car you are responsible for getting it fixed...totally! It is your car....no one comes to help you....you are responsible for finding a place in a foreign country to repair it and if it takes 2 weeks you are without transportation. We leased a new Peugeot for a month. They let us drive it for about 2 minutes and it seemed fine. There was only one problem....when you tried to come to a stop either slowly or quickly.....the car jumped about 2 feet forward. We noticed it when we stopped at a little French bakery to get a snack shortly after we took possession of the car...almost took out an elderly French gentleman in the process. What followed was a month of trying to get Peugeot and auto Europe to take back the car or give us something that would not get us or others killed. They never did...never!! We had to change our itinerary because we were going into the mountains and were afraid the car would jerk off the edge of the roads there.We are not inexperienced travelers or first time rental car users. My husband is a photographer and we have travelled for a month every year for many many years...Not only did this ruin our trip but we stay for a week or two in several places in France and the people we stay with tried to help us and it took time out of their busy day, also. Eventually...after we got home Auto Europe sent us a small amount back after we spent several months of paperwork. Just something to think about before you lease a car!!

Posted by
711 posts

To add to my last rant I should also say before and after our lease fiasco we have rented cars every year without any problem at all. We do get all insurance. Jane

Posted by
711 posts

My husband and I had a horrible problem with a leased Peugeot about 8 years ago. We are the people that related our story to Bets and Janet I believe. Without relating the long sordid experience these are things to remember...if you lease a car you are responsible for getting it fixed...totally! It is your car....no one comes to help you....you are responsible for finding a place in a foreign country to repair it and if it takes 2 weeks you are without transportation. We leased a new Peugeot for a month. They let us drive it for about 2 minutes and it seemed fine. There was only one problem....when you tried to come to a stop either slowly or quickly.....the car jumped about 2 feet forward. We noticed it when we stopped at a little French bakery to get a snack shortly after we took possession of the car...almost took out an elderly French gentleman in the process. What followed was a month of trying to get Peugeot and auto Europe to take back the car or give us something that would not get us or others killed. They never did...never!! We had to change our itinerary because we were going into the mountains and were afraid the car would jerk off the edge of the roads there.We are not inexperienced travelers or first time rental car users. My husband is a photographer and we have travelled for a month every year for many many years...Not only did this ruin our trip but we stay for a week or two in several places in France and the people we stay with tried to help us and it took time out of their busy day, also. Eventually...after we got home Auto Europe sent us a small amount back after we spent several months of paperwork. Just something to think about before you lease a car!!

Posted by
189 posts

Jane, That was definitely a bad experience!

My contract says that if the car is not available for more than 12 hours they will pay for an equivalent rental.

Posted by
94 posts

I thought I would add a postscript about the decision we made about car rental/lease issue for what we felt worked best for us. We might have done things differently if we had considered the car situation before making housing reservations. We took into account car price, train fare, gas, mileage, insurance, GPS, and the labor/time of driving. First, car leases are only available at the major airports (e.g., CDG). This meant getting off the west coast USA flight and hopping in a car to the Loire. While this is something that we have done on several European trips, we weren't keen to drive from our final stop in Strasbourg to Paris (5+ hours) where we will stay carless for a week at the end of our trip. We could have dropped the leased car in Strasbourg for an extra fee and still have taken the train. We decided to take the train from CDG to St. Pierre des Corps (Tours). We'll pick up a small (we like small), unlimited mileage car. Many rental agencies limit the mileage and that concerned us; we decided to add the insurance although we have never done so in the past. We'll drive for four weeks, drop in Strasbourg and take the train to Paris.