A guide to airport car hire

The ultimate guide to airport car hire

Hiring a car at the airport often means a battle between price and convenience, with surcharges and fees quickly adding up. But the ease of picking up a rental as soon as you step off the plane and quickly kick starting your vacation is what makes airport car hires so popular.

As long as you're caught up on the fine print and know the best tactics to collecting and dropping off your vehicle, an airport car rental is a great choice.

What are airport surcharges?

An airport surcharge is a fee that the renter must pay if they choose to pick up their car from any airport. Airports are considered a premium location, so car hire companies must pay high rent, taxes and a “concession fee” in order to operate within or near the airport. This fee is then passed onto the customer to pay along with their rental. It can cost up to 30 percent on the total cost of the rental, though some suppliers charged a fixed rate.

You may also see “airport surcharge” written in a rental agreement as: premium location surcharge, airport tax, concession fee recover, and premium location fee.

Tip: When you book through easyCar, the airport surcharge is already included in the price.

Can I avoid paying an airport surcharge?

Unfortunately, if you are renting a vehicle from the airport there is no way of avoiding this fee.

Your best chance of avoiding the surcharge is to find a supplier that provides a free shuttle from the airport to their off-site office.

Alternatively, you can opt instead to rent your vehicle from a less popular location downtown in order to escape the extra fee. But you'll want to consider if the ground transportation (e.g. a taxi or bus) to get to the location will add up to more than the airport surcharge or daily rental price.

Differences between airport suppliers

    Airport terminal pick up: The most convenient and easiest location to reach, these suppliers are located directly within the terminal.
  • Free shuttle bus: Many rental desks are located a short distance away from the airport, so companies will provide customers with a free shuttle, which will collect them at the terminal and brings them off-site.
  • Meet and greet: A representative from the car hire company will personally meet you at the arrival gate with your rental already on hand or drive you to the location of your vehicle.

What are the advantages of hiring a car at the airport?

    Airport locations usually carry a larger selection of cars than other locations.
  • You can easily make your way to the car hire desk and to your destination without having to pay expensive taxi fees.
  • You do not need to carry your luggage around as you try and locate an off-site location.
  • Airports are often the most convenient and efficient location to collect a car hire.
  • They are ideal for those pressed for time or on a short trip, as you can quickly drive to your destination.

Things to consider when renting at an airport location:

Is renting a car at the airport more expensive?

Although you must pay an additional surcharge at the airport, this does not always make airport car hire more expensive than other locations. You will find similar fees at other premium locations such as train stations, making them equally expensive but harder to get to. And due to the high number of suppliers packed into and around airports, there is a greater competition for customers and demand to keep prices low.

City Average airport cost per day Average downtown cost per day
London £20.40 £29.60
Edinburgh £24.40 £27.70
Nice £28.60£35.30
Malaga £13.90 £24.70
Milan £24.80 £26.10

*based on easyCar booking data

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