Many people think about hiring a car from the station but are put off because they don’t understand it as well as airport car hire. So even though a train station car hire can be super convenient, people end up paying a small fortune on taxis instead. And because we know car hire can be a minefield, we’ve gathered the biggest questions about hiring a car at a train station in this blog. More importantly, using our expertise on car hire in Spain, we’ve answered them!
Do also check out our blog: car hire pitfalls and how to avoid them.
How much does a train station car hire cost?
Generally speaking, prices for a train station car hire are higher than at an airport. This is because the fleet size tends to be smaller. And as a result of the lower level of demand for car hire, it’s usually only the big name car hire brands that are available at a train station. So the economy car hire suppliers you often find at popular airports in Spain are almost non-existent. However, that old adage “you get what you pay for” still applies! Because train stations tend to have well established big name suppliers, you can expect to get good service and good cars. Well worth the extra bucks at the end of the day!
Are the car hires in the train station?
If you’ve ever hired a car from an airport, you’re already half-way prepared. Like airports, car hire suppliers at train stations can be on-site, off-site, or at a nearby local office. Knowing the exact location of your car hire is important so you can make the best choice for you.
And how do you get this information? When searching for a car hire, you should find all the relevant information on the website you’re booking with. This includes what the rental price includes and what it doesn’t (the Terms and Conditions are important to read too!). You’ll also find information on where the car hire desk is. That includes whether they’ll provide a courtesy minibus to their office if they’re not on-site.
What are the pros and cons of “on-site” and “off-site” hire?
Obviously, the first pro for on-site hire is that there is a desk in the station and the cars are in the station car park. If you have a lot of luggage, or a big family, then this would be a sensible first option to explore.
Off-site can be convenient too – for instance, when your baggage load is light. If the office is just over the road or around the corner, then you might get a queue of 1 person at the most. And you may also find slightly cheaper prices because the supplier hasn’t had to pay the station fees.
But, if the office turns out to simply be a local town office, it could well mean a taxi ride just to get there. This is when it helps to know if the supplier offers a courtesy minibus! If it does, you save on the cost of a taxi and just need to take into account a little more travel time to reach the office. As I said earlier, check this out before you book anything.
What are the opening hours like?
The opening hours for train station car hire are generally more limited than at airports. Almost no-one opens past midnight and they usually close well before then. Offices also tend to close for about 2 hours for lunch. You might find yourself having to sit around in a local tapas bar for while. Mind you, that isn’t exactly a bad thing in Spain!
If you want to collect a train station car hire straight after arriving by train, it’s a good idea to ensure your train arrival time is during office hours. As a general rule, when you’re booking a car hire, you’ll only see cars available by suppliers that are open at the time you’re booking for. If you wanted to book your train first, it’s better to check the station car hire companies’ opening hours first… It’s also not worth trying to trick the booking system with an unrealistic earlier time and to expect the office to stay open for you. It’s unlikely they will!
And as a final note, bear in mind that weekends will normally have even more restrictive hours.
Do I need a driving licence?
I am often asked about driving licences. As a general rule: no licence – no car. If you are holding a licence from an EU country with a standard Latin alphabet (not Cyrillic, like Greek or Russian for example), then you will have no problems. Otherwise, it is advisable to get an international licence. It must be a valid licence by date and originals only. Photocopies or faxes are never accepted. For UK, the older pink or green paper licences are also accepted. In every case, the licence must have the same name as the passport (or other official national ID). A final note on this: provisional or learner’s licences are not accepted anywhere. The suppliers normally expect to see at least two years as a full valid licence.
What about the fuel?
Fuel policies will vary between suppliers. Normally you will get the car with a full tank. The supplier will either want you to return the car full, or will charge you for refuelling in some way. Please also make sure you use the right fuel for the car. If you’re not sure, check with the supplier before you go.
See my other post on car hire pitfalls and how to avoid them for a more detailed explanation about fuel.
And… what about car hire insurance?
Now, the 64,000 dollar question… Insurance. I’ve done my best to explain the ins and outs of car hire insurance in another post: Car hire insurance explained.