Renting the cheapest car in it's class. Good idea?

We will be renting a car in Provence this June. This will be our first time renting a car in Europe. Wow, there is a lot to study and learn before renting for the first time. We have decided to rent through Auto Europe. We have 4 adults with one carry on bag each and a couple of day packs. We are thinking we will need to rent within the intermediate class. My question is: If you reserve a particular car and are given a cheaper model, is money refunded to you or is it just the luck of the draw? If it is just the luck of the draw, our thought is to rent the cheapest car within that class since you are never guaranteed a specific car. After much thought and research we have decided that the super cdw is the way to go (for peace of mind and not wanting to have a huge monetary hold put on our credit card) Any thoughts or insight is appreciated.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7946 posts

You think you've asked one question but you've really asked three. Autoeurope is mystery meat. You don't know what you have until you see who've they foisted you off upon. An intermediate might not hold all that stuff. You will get a car of the class at the price given. There will be no refund, unless you move down a class, and that's a maybe. If you need to move up in the class or to a larger class, it will depend upon the good will of the specific agency that AE has designated as to whether it costs you more or not. If you have problems on the road, they must be addresses to the agency and not AE.

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4859 posts

Renting through Auto Europe, Ed is right that you don't know the company until after you reserve the car. But...if it's a company you don't want to do business with you can call AE and change your reservation easily. Your reservation through AE is fully refundable.

Posted by Rosalyn
Berkeley
1001 posts

While what Ed said about not knowing which company you'll get with Autoeurope is true, his implication that with other outfits you'll get the car you see on their reservation website is just nonsense. Every time I've rented a car, the site shows a type of model for the class and says something like, "or similar." That's true in the US as well as abroad. It's never been clear to me why within a designation such as "compact" some models cost more than others, so we always reserve the cheapest that's the size we want. (I do get why a Mercedes compact costs more than a VW, but other differences aren't so clear.) Some years ago, we were traveling with friends and got a SEAT in the compact class. It was adequately large for the four of us, and we were able to get our four bags (22 inchers) and a couple of the daypacks in the luggage space. I think one or two packs had to go on the floor in the passenger space. Two of us are smaller than average. Depending the size of your people, you might very well do better with an intermediate.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7946 posts

If I implied that with any car rental company you get what the picture says, I can't write. I rent over a dozen car around the world during the course of a year. I don't know if I ever get what one would expect. I quite thinking about it years and yeras ago - - it doesn't happen.

Posted by Irv
Beverly Hills, MI
367 posts

The only way to be sure you get the car in the picture is to do a lease Otherwise you will get "or similar" and it can be the luck of the draw. My experience renting has been that they have to give you at least the size car you reserved or it's a free upgrade but you definitely have to stand your ground (That's why we changed to leasing 10 years ago). Most of the rental car companies have little illustrations showing the passenger and luggage capacity of the cars they rent. Two carry-ons should fit in the trunk of just about anything although one of the day bags might need to go in the back seat. Super CDW isn't cheap but you are taking a vacation to have a good time and peace of mind sure helps.

Posted by Robert
Portland
629 posts

Just one comment about AutoEurope. When you do your vehicle search on-line, they now list which rental agency they're using for any car class you select. The same is true of Kemwel.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7946 posts

I thought Robert's post was incorrect/nuts/stoopid, but he's enlightened me. I travel quite a bit and don't agonize over many of the issues that worry some people. Credit card calls and car reservations are something I do as time-killers at the departure gate. The car reservation is a two-minute operation. If AE is much cheaper, I give them as shot. A lttle cheaper, and I won't because if they chunk me off on an agency I won't use, I've wasted time filling in the blanks before I find out, then have to cancel, back-up, and start over. I use kayk to find cars, ninety percent of the time, almost always unless I'm working a special project. When kayak redirects you to AE you're at the fill-the-blank page, on which the agency is not displayed...... I just tried going straight to AE and what Robert said is true. I withdraw the mystery meat comment. Hrumph! Being wrong sucks.

Posted by Robert
Portland
629 posts

I think it's very new on AE and Kemwel, Ed. Even last Spring they weren't showing the agency being used.