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Exorbitant fees for taking rental car to Isle of Skye?

In making preliminary plans for an August trip to Scotland, AutoEurope tells me their local car suppliers make it very costly to drive a car onto the Isle of Skye. For example, they tell me that renting a car in Glasgow for a trip that would include a few days on Skye would cost roughly an additional $79 (or 79 pounds, I forget) daily for each day I was on Skye. I find this surprising since you can simply take a bridge to Skye and it's a super popular tourist destination. Has anyone run into this issue? If so, can you share any workaround you used? Thanks - Alan, Perplexed

Posted by
16890 posts

This particular caveat may actually be coming from AutoEurope, instead of the supplier, if I'm remembering correctly. Try contacting one directly to see if they say differently.

Posted by
29661 posts

I haven't been there but I think I have heard that many of the roads on Skye are unmade. Most rental folks do not permit driving their cars on dirt roads. This may be some compensation in advance....

Then again locals may well tell me that my logic is mashed potatoes.....

Posted by
2286 posts

Skye is a long way from the comforts of Northamptonshire but they certainly have tarmac roads up there.

Sounds like AutoEurope haven't got a clue - try somewhere else.

Posted by
1226 posts

Hi, Alan,

Pardon the pun, but it sounds as though AutoEurope are taking you for a ride! From many previous years experience, I've found that there's not much of a difference in cost between renting directly with the company as opposed to going through a consolidator. In the past, I've told car hire agents that I'm going to the Uists, Lewis, Applecross, and other semi-remote locations, and no one's ever said a word about extra charges.

This past summer, I paid around $730 US for a 30 day rental with Avis. That included taxes, airport fees, etc., and no surcharge for going to Skye, Harris, and Arran, or leaving the car for two days in Mallaig while I went to Rum.

Most car rental companies give unlimited mileage. However, I've noticed that some of them are now putting a cap on mileage, so you'd have to keep track of your mileage if that's the case. Also make sure that the starting mileage on the rental contract corresponds with the starting mileage on the odometer. Not always easy to remember if you're just coming off of an all-night overseas flight!

There are very few unpaved roads in Scotland. Even in the remotest parts of the Highlands and Islands, your roads will mostly be paved. You might find the occasional dirt track leading to a farm, castle, or a remote B&B, but if you encounter something like that, just drive slowly. You may come across temporary road signs for "loose chippings". That means that there is loose gravel on the road. Best to slow down appreciably.

On Skye, as anywhere in the Highlands, just be aware of your surroundings. Some B and unclassified roads have no shoulder, and sharp dropoffs from the tarred surface. But there is absolutely no reason whatsoever that a rental agency would charge extra for driving on Skye. Perhaps they misunderstood you, and thought that you meant the Isle of Man, where the craic was 90.

Hope you have a wonderful holiday!

Mike (Auchterless)

Posted by
632 posts

Last summer we rented a car in Inverness and drove to Skye, back to Pitlochry and returned the car in Perth. We used Europecar. They did not ask for our itinerary and never said we had to pay more to go to Skye.

Posted by
360 posts

We rented our car through Hertz and they did not ask if we were going to Skye. Most of the roads are paved, even the small one-lane roads. There may have been a small stretch of unpaved -- I don't even remember, so it was clearly not that noteworthy. You really have to make a point of going off the road to really damage your car. Just make sure you have the documentation of what was already on the car beforehand -- Hertz tried to charge us for scratches/dents until the pre-check paperwork showed they were already there.

Posted by
6113 posts

You can take a bridge to Skye, so I can’t see that would involve any extra fees. However, you can also take a ferry there and often, rental companies prohibit taking their vehicles on ferries.

Posted by
37 posts

I drive to Skye each year from the Edinburgh airport. I always rent through Hertz and never have paid extra for going to Skye. Nearly all roads are paved but once off the major roads, some are quite narrow and I have had a few shrubs scratch the side of my car. Hertz has been great and has never charged me for that. The primary roads are very roomy by Scotland standards.

Posted by
716 posts

Sorry Nigel, but your advice is mashed potatoes - as you said!

All the roads here on Skye are tarmac, but some are single track. The only possible reason I can think of for an additional charge might be if you told the rental company you were planning to take the ferry as in previous years some companies have added a surcharge for potential damage to their vehicles on board ferries. However, I had thought that practice had ceased! There is no reason to tell the rental car company where you intend to go in Scotland, so there should be no way they can charge you some crazy surcharge just for coming across to Skye. I'd book with a different company.

Posted by
10 posts

I booked an Enterprise Rental for April 2019 for about 2 weeks via Costco Travel. There wasn't any mention of any exclusions aside from not going off road. Total cost was ~290 GBP.