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Car rental guide: 8 things you have to know before renting a car

Living in Singapore without owning a car doesn’t mean you cannot enjoy the convenience of personal transportation. Renting a car is an excellent solution whether you need one for work or to run errands. There will also be times when having a car at your disposal is useful for special occasions, accommodating out-of-town guests, ferrying family members for important appointments, or when you just want to get away for a quick weekend road trip.

However, you may have come across stories where drivers have been slapped with high charges or badly penalised through their car rental experience. For those unfamiliar with renting a car, there are certain factors to be mindful about if you want to avoid such pitfalls. Here are some questions you may have and our guide on what you should know before confirming your car rental booking.

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1. What documents are required for car rental in Singapore?

To rent a car in Singapore, you will need a valid driving licence. Some car rental companies may require drivers to hold a valid vehicle licence for a minimum of one year to be eligible to make a booking. This is to mitigate the potential risks to the car from a less experienced driver.

International visitors might need an International Driving Permit (IDP) along with their original driving licence in English or translated to English. Foreigners who have resided in Singapore for more than 12 months are required to convert their licence to a valid Singapore driving licence.

2. Is there an age requirement to rent a car?

You will also need to meet the minimum age requirements, usually 21 or 23 years old. There may be additional age restrictions for certain rental bookings. For example, the minimum age to rent BMW vehicles from Hertz Singapore is 25 years and above. Others may impose a maximum age limit, such as renting only to those under 73 years old.

3. How do I choose a good car rental company?

Start by researching reputable car rental companies in Singapore, and look for well-established ones with positive customer reviews and a wide range of vehicle options. Check if there have been any negative news reports about the car rental companies.

Handing over of BMW car key

Established car rental companies are more likely to offer reliable services, well-maintained vehicles and transparent terms and conditions. Booking through a recognised company reduces the risk of encountering hidden fees or subpar vehicles.

4. How do I know which rental car to choose?

You might be overwhelmed with the wide range of options offered by the car rental companies. Select a car that meets your needs and budget.

Consider factors such as the number of passengers, boot space, and the type of driving you will be doing. A compact car can help you zip around the city quickly, but an SUV might be more suitable if you need one more for family trips.

You may need additional features, such as GPS navigation system, driver assistance systems or a child/booster seat. These can enhance your driving experience and make your journey safer and more comfortable.

>>READ: Special occasions when you need to rent a car

5. Is it expensive to rent a car in Singapore?

The important thing is for you set your own budget first before comparing rental options from different companies. Keep in mind not only the rental cost but also additional expenses such as petrol, insurance (if this is not covered) and parking fees.

Determine how long you will need the rental car as rates can vary depending on the duration of your rental. Some companies offer discounts for longer rental periods, so it is worth comparing rates for daily, weekly, and monthly rentals to find the best deal.

If you anticipate a long-term use of the car, you may also look at car leasing instead. Car leasing covers a longer contractual period, usually more than a year in Singapore.

>>READ: Buy or lease a car? Weighing the pros and cons
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6. What should I look out for before signing the car rental agreement?

Read the rental agreement thoroughly before signing. This is CRUCIAL. Ensure that you fully understand the terms and conditions, including the rental amount, rental period, insurance coverage, mileage charges or limits, fuel policy, cancellation fees, and any additional charges.

Vehicle insurance:
Most car rental companies will include insurance coverage for accidents, theft and damage. Verify the insurance coverage offered and consider if you need to purchase additional insurance options to reduce your excess liability. This could include options like collision damage waivers and personal accident insurance.

Look at the Insurance Excess under the agreement. This is your financial liability for damages or theft of the car during the rental period. A high insurance excess mean that you could end up paying a substantial sum of money even if you were not responsible for the damage or theft.

Penang, Malaysia

If you are planning to drive up to Malaysia, check that the rental company allows cross-border travel. Insurance policies differ among car rental companies and some may not extend coverage for trips to Malaysia.

Fuel policy:
Most car rental companies provide a full tank of petrol upon pickup and require you to return the car with a full tank as well. Others might charge you for petrol based on usage. Choose a policy that suits your preferences and travel plans to avoid unnecessary charges.

Always clarify the terms and conditions of the rental agreement before signing on the dotted line.

7. Can I rent a car anytime?

Demand for rental cars might spike during certain times such as festive periods or public holidays. You may need to secure your rental car by booking in advance. Who knows, you might find yourself enjoying early bird discounts.

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8. What other things do I have to look out for?

Before driving off with your rental car, don’t be shy to thoroughly inspect it for any existing issues. This is another CRUCIAL thing that you have to do.

Check the car for dings, dents or damages and bring these to the attention of the car rental company. Make sure that these are documented in the rental agreement as well. You might want to take photos as evidence of any pre-existing issues. This can help you avoid being held responsible for damages that may not have caused by you when returning the rental car.

You may want to reject a car with potential safety risks, such as a worn-out tyre. Accidents can occur if you experience a tyre blowout while driving.

While you are inspecting the car, take some time to find out about the different features, functions and locations of the various controls such as signals, headlights and wipers. Make sure that these are working properly as well.

Some car rental companies offer a test drive of the car before renting, especially for long-term car leasing. Always grab the opportunity to have a test drive before confirming your decision.

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9. What if I am late in returning the rental car?

Understand the procedures for returning the rental car. Confirm the drop-off location and the requirements for returning the car in good condition. You might have to pay extra charges for failing to adhere to these guidelines.

As a buffer (plus we are kiasu), return your car at least 30 minutes before the stipulated rental deadline. Most car rental companies will levy extra charges for the late return of the car and these can be substantial. Don’t be surprised if the additional charges exceed the original rental cost!

It is worth noting that a rental company could keep a record of your late return, and this might affect your ability to rent a car from them in future.

Ready to rent?

Having a car at your disposal, even for a short time, can add flexibility and convenience to your life. By following our car rental guide, we hope you can be better informed and prepared when it comes to renting a car in Singapore.

Sime Darby Motors Singapore offers services ranging from short-term car rental to long-term leasing and car subscription, according to your needs and budget. Head over to Hertz Singapore, Thrifty Singapore and Fasst and check the services out.

Ready to rent a car?