Car Rental in London

Tips & Hints to Ferret Out the Top London Car Rental

London Car Rental

Car rentals in London are the number one transit solution for travelers valuing independence during their journeys as well as for the city’s visitors who are planning to travel beyond its limits. Even though London’s public transit system is efficient, providing adequate and fast connections to every part of the city, it fails to offer equally effective links to destinations outside London. Moreover, it surely entails a considerable amount of hassle. On the other hand, London black taxis and minicabs are reliable, fast, and top-rated. Nevertheless, they are rather pricey, especially when exclusively used for all the journey’s rides. That being said, it is evident that London car rentals are not only one of the most popular transit options, but they are also among the most convenient ones.

Is it Recommended to Rent a Car in London?

If you are planning on staying inside the city limits, it isn’t advisable to rent a car. Verily, the traffic levels can get high, and traffic jams are an everyday phenomenon, especially in the city center. Moreover, parking can be hard, while cruising around London’s central areas can be difficult and tedious. On the other hand, a London car hire is ideal for journeys outside the city limits. With a London car rental, you can explore the scenic English countryside, visit the picturesque coastal cities, and reach sites and attractions, often unreachable otherwise. Hence, if you want to explore more than just London during your journey in the UK, London car rentals are the just right option.

Do I Pay a Congestion Charge for Rental Cars?

Car rentals in London have to pay the Congestion Charge and the ULEZ fee as well. The Congestion Charge is actually the fee for driving inside the charging zone (most of the central London area) from 07:00 am to 06:00 pm on weekdays and from 12:00 pm to 06:00 pm on weekdays and public holidays. Please note that it doesn’t apply on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. Each vehicle entering the Congestion Charge Zone must pay a 15£/17.40€/18.60$ fee.

Our Tip: Apart from the Congestion Charge, the ULEZ fee must be paid by drivers whose vehicles don’t comply with the relevant conditions. The Ultra Low Emission Zone operates on a 24-hour basis, except for Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. It covers the zone within the North and South Circular Roads (from August 2023, it will be expanded to all London boroughs). The daily charge is 12.50£/14.50€/15.50$. 

How do you Hire a Car in London?

A vast majority of international car rental agencies, along with plenty of local providers, operate in London. With many pick-up and drop-off locations all around the city, the London car hire companies provide top-quality services and rather competitive prices. Thus, you should use a search engine to reveal the available options and carefully contrast them. Once making up your mind, you’ll have to fill out the relevant booking form. After completing the procedure, you’ll receive a confirmation email, which will probably be the voucher for your reservation.

How Difficult is it to Rent a Car in London?

You won’t face any particular difficulties during your booking process. Still, if you want to optimize your London car rental experience, you should take a look at the following tips:

  • Early in-advance reservations come with tempting prices and one-of-a-kind deals. What’s more, the sooner you book your London car rental the more available vehicle types you’ll ferret out.
  • If you can’t settle on a London car rental company or a car model, you should check the previous customers’ reviews.
  • During the picking-up process, it is advisable to take some pics of the vehicle so as to have evidence of any existing damages.
  • Car rentals in London are charged per day. As a matter of fact, they are charged per 24 hours. Hence, you should drop off your London rental car within that time frame to avoid getting charged for an extra day.
  • The fuel-to-fuel policy is a smart trick to save on car hire expenses, as car rental companies usually overcharge fuel.
  • Should you need any extra amenities (GPS, child seat, additional driver, etc.), you’ll have to pay an additional fee.
  • Many London car hire companies accept dropping offs at a different than the picking-up location. Still, they usually add an extra fare to the final cost.
  • Plenty of London rental cars are electric vehicles. Indeed, more than 8500 charging stations are to be found around London. Apart from being eco-friendly, electric and hybrid cars are usually exempt from the Congestion Charge and the ULEZ fee.
  • If you are planning on traveling a lot, you should choose a rental car with unlimited mileage.

What do I Need to Rent a Car in London?

If you want to rent a car in London, you’ll have to hand over your ID or passport, a valid, at least-two-year driver’s license, and a credit card in the main driver’s name. Some London car hire companies may accept debit cards as well. Nevertheless, as a rule, debit cards aren’t accepted for luxury models.

Do I Need an International Drivers License to Rent a Car in London?

If your driver’s license isn’t issued by an EU country or isn’t written with Latin characters, you’ll be asked for an International Driving Permit. An International Driving Permit (IDP) isn’t but the translation of the license. Please note that driver’s licenses issued in the USA, Canada, Australia, and other countries belonging to the Commonwealth of Nations are accepted without further asking for an IDP.

How Old do you Have to Be to Rent a Car in London?

You’ll have to be at least 21 years old to rent a car in London. Moreover, you must have held your driver’s license for at least two years. However, higher age limits apply to some luxury vehicle models. Moreover, an extra fee may be imposed for young drivers (under the age of 25).

What Type of Car should you Rent in London?

If you are going to drive mostly around London, a mini or compact car would be the ideal car rental option for you. In that way, cruising around downtown London and parking your vehicle will be significantly easier. Ford Fiesta and Fiat 500 are the most popular London car rentals in this category. Alternatively, longer journeys will be much more comfortable with an SUV, such as the VW T-Cross. On the other hand, if you are traveling with children or company, you may need a full-size vehicle even if planning on staying inside the city limits.

How Much is a Rental Car in London?

The price of a London rental car depends on various factors. Verily, the vehicle model, the rental duration, the time of the year, and any extra amenities affect the final cost. In any case, the lowest price for a mini car rental is around 45£/52.10€/55.60$, whereas an SUV would cost about 110£/127.50€/136.10$ per day. Please note that if you book your car rental well in advance, you’ll certainly find lower prices.

Is it Right Hand Drive in London?

No, motorists in London drive on the left-hand side of the road. Moreover, the steering wheels are to be found on the right side of the car. Hence, if you come from a right-hand traffic country, you should spend some time adjusting to the different position of the steering wheel.

What is the Speed Limit in London?

The speed limit in urban areas is 30mph/48km/h. Nevertheless, in some zones (for instance, close to schools), this limit usually is 20mph/32km/h. In rural areas, drivers can drive at an up-to-60mph/97km/h speed, whereas the limit on the highways is 70mph/112km/h. These rules apply unless there is signage indicating otherwise.

Do Rental Cars Need Full Insurance?

All London car rental companies provide a Collision Damage Waiver. Some even include Theft Protection Waiver in their packages. Nevertheless, it is always recommended to opt for the full insurance package in order to avoid any deductive clauses and be covered in the unfortunate case of damage or accident. On the other hand, many credit cards provide car rental insurance coverage. Thus, you should check if one of yours offers similar services. In this case, you’ll have to use that credit card during the car rental booking process, while the cardholder’s name must be the same as the main driver’s.

Where Can I Park my Car in London?

Parking in London isn’t an easy task. Free street parking is almost out of the question (at least in London’s central areas), whereas even paid street parking is hard and comes with many restrictions. Thus, in red zones (marked with red stripes), parking is strictly forbidden, while free street parking in downtown London is allowed from 06:30 pm to 08:30 am and on Sundays and during public holidays (unless there is street signage indicating otherwise). In general terms, parking fees are quite pricey. Alternatively, you can opt for one of the numerous car parks located all around London.

Our Tip: Many car parks have apps, making the reservation process even easier.

More Info About Car Rental in London

  • Some London car rental companies allow traveling to other European countries. In that case, you’ll have to fill in an official form and have written permission from the car rental agency. 
  • Traffic laws should be strictly obeyed. As a matter of fact, London is full of traffic cameras, observing the implementation of the traffic regulations.
  • If you receive a fine, the car rental company will charge your credit card or send you the fine added to the sending fees.
  • Drinking and driving is forbidden. Motorists with a higher than 0.08 blood alcohol concentration are banned from driving, get fined, and may even be sentenced to 6-month imprisonment.
  • All passengers must wear seatbelts.
  • Children under 12 years of age or 135cm/4.4ft must be seated on children’s seats.
  • The driver can’t use the phone during the ride unless being equipped with a headset or a hands-free device.
  • You mustn’t, under any circumstances, overtake another vehicle on its left-hand side.
  • You should always pay attention to the cyclists while driving.
  • London’s streets are severely congested from 06:00 am to 10:00 am and from 04:00 pm to 06:30 pm.
  • The roads leading to London Airports often get congested during rush hours as well.