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Car Rental in Frankfurt, Germany

I've always traveled by rail in Germany. How do I go about renting a car from the Frankfurt airport? Do my children (1 & 3) require safety seats & are the ones from the US good enough?
Do I get an international driver's license & I'm good to go?

Posted by
18021 posts

Where are you going? Why do you think you need a car? Germany has almost the most km of track per km2 in Europe. And if the train won't get you there, the bus will. Use the German Rail website for schedules. Sound like if you can get where you want to go by train, you'll save a lot of grief.

Posted by
139 posts

Renting a car @ the airport in Frankfurt is easy. There are multiple rental agencies from which to choose ... Hertz, Avis, Sixt, etc. In addition to dealing directly with the "big names," there are also several other auto rental services often endorsed by other helpline members here, like Gamut, and others that can also arrange rentals . Just do some comparison shopping online, and see which outfit has the best deal for the time frame you need, along with the availability of the size / type of car you want. Then go to their websites and make your reservations. You show up at the rental counter, sign the contracts, and go downstairs and get your car, and you are off to explore the country. In general, the process works just like renting one here in America. A few important things to note: car insurance coverages are broken down a bit differently. Make sure you read about what you need ahead of time, or speak to a customer service rep. and familiarize yourself with the terms. don't just assume you are covered and just decline the CDW as many Americans do here in the USA. That can be a costly mistake. Also, before you leave the airport: make sure you inspect the car carefully. Though I have never had one iota of a problem upon returning a vehicle @ Frankfurt or any other airport, I now take a quick video as I inspect the car prior to leaving the garage, and do the same upon returning it. And make sure you figure out how to put the car into reverse, and also how to open the gas filler cap ... either one may be a little different than your American car. I always have an international Drivers license with me ... never yet been asked to produce it. As for safety seats ... can't answer that one . I will leave that part up to someone with kids.

Posted by
850 posts

Becca, read the report by the folks at Gemut (gemut.com) about renting a car at this link: http://www.gemut.com/images/stories/report/carrentalspecialreport.pdf This report will answer many of your questions. I am not sure about the safety seats from the U.S. but someone will answer that. If you do decide to rent a car I would recommend a gps with European maps along with a good paper map. You could get by fine with just a good map but the gps makes it much easier. Do get the international drivers permit at your local AAA office. If you have an AMEX card you can get primary insurance coverage with their $24.95 plan with zero deductible which is per rental and not per day. You could also use their free cdw coverage as well as Visa and I suppose Master card as well but the AMEX $24 plan is better. The report at the above link will explain your insurance coverage. Picking up at the Frankfurt airport is no problem and it is easy enough to drive from there to your destination. The gps is a big help to get you on the right road. I would call Gemut for their rates and compare with autoeurope. Both are good agencies to deal with and you can cancel if you decide against renting a car.

Posted by
7941 posts

Before you rent a car, please read the forums at Trip Advisor about the various car rental firms. Some of them have absolutely horrid reviews. Yes, you will need car seats for both of your children, but I don't know if the ones from the US are legal, so hopefully someone else will chime in with the correct info. I think I would want to go by train with 2 toddlers. More space for them to sit, color, walk around. They have extra sections just for parents with small children.

Posted by
2193 posts

I've rented from Hertz at FRA before and just booked online from here before I left. Normally, you can rent extra equipment (like car seats) right on hertz.com when you're making your reservation. Andreas lays the process at the airfield out precisely...it's very easy. While it's also quite easy navigating out of the airfield and onto the Autobahn, make sure you pay very specific attention to the "rental car return" sign if you're bringing the car back to FRA. I seem to recall that there may have been only one sign almost immediately before you need to turn. If you miss it, it might be a little tricky going around again. But if you're looking hard for it, you won't have a problem. That car park is a giant underground garage under the airfield. It's a very quick walk to your car.

Posted by
2779 posts

US safety seats are not legal in German cars. You'll have to rent some from your rental car provider. Also both of your kids will have to travel in such seats. You won't need an international driver's license as it's only a translation of your "real" one but it might not hurt to own one of course. The largest German car rental company is Sixt followed by Europcar. These two have great choice and e.g. can give you an automatic transmission car even if you didn't book one. At Frankfurt airport the cars are parked right at the car park next to the terminal buildings. So no shuttle bus required. In Terminal 1 (Star Alliance) the car rental desks are one floor below arrivals level and the car park is a short walk from there. In Terminal 2 (other carriers) the desks are right in the arrivals area and you take the elevator down to your car.

Posted by
2703 posts

Hi Becca, I'd get a quote from www.gemut.com. Can't hurt. You can also call them for a quote and get advice with their toll free #. We've rented through them for our last 3 trips to Germany. I always get an IDP (International Driving Permit) through AAA. It's about $20. I've never been asked for it (total of 9 trips to Germany), but better safe than sorry. As Lane pointed out, we also use our AmEx card for our car reservation/payment and use the AmEx Premium Car Rental Protection for the CDW Ins. (and it covers more). Cost is $24.99 for the ENTIRE rental period (up to 42 consecutive days), not per day. Call AmEx to sign up for the insurance protection and use the AmEx card for all costs related to the renting the car. Picking up at Frankfurt is easy and we found leaving the airport (we were driving to the Mosel area) relatively easy also. Paul

Posted by
1357 posts

The only specifications I'm finding online about the type of car seats states that they need to be "appropriate for the size of the child." We've brought our car seats from home when driving overseas. We've never had them inspected, I'm mostly assuming that they're okay. It's also a good idea to have your children sit in them while on the plane. It's safer for the kids, and, if you're on a 9 hour flight with little ones, it's nice to have a place to strap 'em in for a bit so they're not crawling all over you the whole time. It's also really expensive to rent car seats from the rental companies, usually around 8 euro/day for each seat.

Posted by
188 posts

Regarding car rental collision insurance, beware Capital One Card has now excluded the VAT portion of any damage claim reimbursement this can be 20% or more of a claim. Does anyone know if the AMEX plan excludes VAT.?

Posted by
2779 posts

Book from an off-airport station of Sixt, Europcar, Hertz, Avis. It saves you a 19% fee that would be added to your total rental charge. Usually even a cab fare from the airport to that off-site location is cheaper than that 19% fee. Both of your children will require European children/baby seats. You need to get them from your car rental provider. American ones are not considered secure enough in Europe (let's not discuss, just accept it and find the best way to deal with it). Holder of legal US drivers' licenses do not need an international one in Germany.

Posted by
2828 posts

I've seen Gemut name flying around here due to some rather good PDF instructions and tips they released. However, their search mechanism is rather lackluster. Quote with AutoEurope as well, and with the big agencies themselves: Hertz, Europecar, Sixt.

Posted by
9110 posts

I'm in the anit-Gemut crowd. They're just too cumbersome. First you have to give them all your junk, then email, then wait for a reply, then point out that you have a better deal elsewhere, then see what they say, then see it's not really the same vehicle/coverage.....it goes on and on. With kayak or something, you check the deals, make a pick, and you're done in five minutes. Try working with Gemut when you want a car in the next ten minutes and you don't want to hang around a computer - - much less have a half a day to twiddle your thumbs. Additionally I don't care about personal service and knowing the dude at a brokerage outift - - all I want is a darn car. Life's too short to burn time on simple things.

Posted by
2525 posts

Surely renting a car at the airport will be efficient and driving, especially to most cities and villages, quite convenient. My extensive experience traveling within Germany is that the train and bus systems easily and comfortably take us to all desired locations, villages included. Calculated savings are substantial.