Welcome to our detailed Discover Car Hire Review. Like the name suggests, this website lets you rent a car worldwide. We have been struggling a very long time with that topic. We could not find a single car rental website doing what is is supposed to do: compare prices and lets me book a car without nasty extra charges.
Well, now we have finally tested extensively Discover Car Hire.
Update: Discover Car Hire is now Discover Cars.com – same company!
Renting a car can definitely be a much more convenient way to explore the nooks and crannies of whatever area you’re traveling around.
Although it can be more expensive than buses or trains, especially if you factor in fuel costs, a car gives you access to more of what a country has to offer. For me, they are particularly useful because I love hiking and exploring parks and forests, and in many cases a car is the only way to access some of them.
While traveling through Albania by bus/hitchhiking this summer, I had a conversation with a French couple that made me acutely aware of this fact.
They had rented a car and were midway through an exhaustive loop of the country. Their stories were full of descriptions of little out-of-the-way places they’d seen, and I felt like I’d just barely scratched the surface of my experience in this beautiful country. And although I had an overall great wander through Albania, there were a few national parks I just couldn’t get to without a car, and ended up leaving with a little pang of regret.
So cars can be useful.
A lot of car rental companies can be pretty cagey about extra fees and charges though, and we here at One Week In have had some experiences with rental companies where we’ve ended up paying a lot more than expected once we showed up at the office to pick up the car.
Usually these extra costs are related to insurance, but sometimes they include things you really don’t need that the employees of rental company X push you into adding on.
We have had a really nice experience with Discover Car Rental recently, and after some thorough research and comparisons of prices and insurance packages offered by other leading companies, we can say that Discover really does offer some of the best deals out there.
Discover Cars in Review
So with that said, let’s look at the pros and cons of renting a car through Discover. Then, we’ll take a look at some general things to consider and useful tips for renting a car.
- What is Discover Car Hire?
- 8 Pros for Discover Car Hire
- How to Request Compensation
- The Cons
- Important Things to Consider When Renting a Car
- More Things to Consider
- How NOT to rent a Car
1. What is Discover Car Hire?
I want to start this guide with the most obvious question: What exactly is Discover Car Hire?
Discover Car Hire is basically a price comparison website for hiring your car.
That is it. Very, very simple.
It is what they do all day and night long.
Instead of visiting 7 different websites, it shows you the availability, prices and options for different cars. The bigger the car, the more expensive it gets. This is obvious, right?
Discover Car Hire is also more than just price comparison.
Why? Because you can buy a car insurance directly with them. This is much cheaper and avoids nasty surprises when picking up the car.
This is the main reason why we started using this company in June 2019. It is by all means our go-to page when we need to get a vehicle. Whether that is renting a car in Cyprus, in New Zealand, in the USA or anywhere. It does not matter.
2. Discover Cars: The Pros
- Compares many companies
- Lower cost
- Reasonable deposit
- User-Friendly website
- Fewer hidden fees
- Free cancellation up to 48 hours
- Lower cost of insurance
- Comprehensive insurance
2.1 Compare many car rental companies
Discover Cars helps you find the lowest prices by comparing a lot of different car companies. This gives you a ton of low-budget options to choose from.
If you’ve ever used Skyscanner to look for flight tickets (which we highly recommend), then you’ll be familiar with this model.
Discover is basically a Skyscanner, but for rental cars. And since you’re comparing lots of different companies, you also get to choose from lots of different cars. Another plus.
2.2 Lower Cost
Like I mentioned above, since Discover Cars compares many different companies, they’ll find you the cheapest options for wherever you plan on renting your car.
This can mean a rental car through Discover can be anywhere from $20-40/day cheaper than more recognized competitors.
We’ll get into a price breakdown with some examples a little later. It’s also important to note that prices and car availability varies depending on which country you’re in, another thing we’ll get into later in the article.
2.3 Reasonable Deposit
If you plan on renting a car, then you’ll most likely have to pay a deposit.
The amount of the deposit will vary depending on which country you’re in and the total cost of your rental. These deposits can really vary between countries, so it’s important to be aware of this.
The great thing about Discover is that
a) the deposit prices are reasonable and compare favorably to other big name car rental companies, and
b) they make it very easy to see the deposit price when you choose your rental on their website.
Companies like Budget, Hertz and Avis make it quite difficult to find this information, and it can take a bit of searching to find the information. And then even if you do, sometimes these companies still don’t give a very clear answer, instead deferring to the phrase “varies by location” or some such vagueness.
2.4 User-Friendly Website
Discover’s website is super easy to use, and it gives you all the information you need about the rental costs, insurance, coverage, deposit, deductible etc.
They lay everything out plainly for you, unlike a lot of other sites we’ve used. There’s no need to squint through the fine print of Rental Terms and Conditions to find out how much you’ll actually be paying once you get to your rental car location.
Once you choose your car, you can see in the bottom left corner of the window the company providing the car, the company’s rating out of 10, and then a link to “Rental Conditions”. Click on it and something like this will pop up:
Notice that the deposit amount and deductible is written plainly right under the image of the car. In this search example, we chose four days out of Stockholm airport, which was $157 total, fully insured.
A VERY general rule that a few countries stick to is that the deposit will usually be the total cost of the rental, plus either 25% or $200, whichever is higher. So in this case that holds about true, $157 plus $200 comes to $357, just a bit higher than the ~$320 shown above.
And again we can’t stress the approximately enough.
2.5 Fewer hidden fees
One of the great results of the transparency of Discover’s website is that there are no hidden fees.
Lots of car rental companies hit you with fees you weren’t aware of when reserving the car, because their websites don’t make it obvious what the deposit will be or how much insurance will cost.
2.6 Free Cancellation up to 48 hours
This is a nice feature to be aware of in case of any sudden changes to your itinerary.
Some other rental companies like Hertz also offer this option, but a lot of them also only offer a full refund if you cancel at least 7 days before your scheduled pick-up.
2.7 A good, low-cost insurance option
Discover offers a flat-rate insurance option for just 8.85€/day, no matter where you’re renting the car.
Most other companies have variable insurance costs per day, and these costs are usually a bit higher, so it’s nice to see some consistency in this regard.
2.8 Discover’s insurance coverage
Also, this full-coverage insurance option includes theft insurance, something that other companies tack on as an additional option with additional cost.
Here’s a full breakdown of Discover’s insurance coverage:
- It works together with the rental car’s basic insurance, your personal car insurance or your credit card’s insurance if you have it.
- It will cover your expenses up to $3,300.
- You must first pay for any damages, then ask for compensation
- Covers repair costs, including damage to the undercarriage, wheels, tires, roof, windows, mirrors,
- locks and hubcaps. (basic damage protection usually just covers bodywork)
- Covers towing expenses up to 100 euro
- Covers taxi expenses directly related to a breakdown or accident
- Covers lost keys or lockout fees
- Covers administrative fees (related to the money the company loses while the car is being repaired)
Here’s what they don’t cover. What’s not covered is pretty standard when compared to other companies:
- Personal possessions
- Damage that occurred while breaking any laws or traffic violations
- Damage to the car’s interior
- Damages from weather events like hail or hurricanes
3. How to Request Compensation
If the worst does happen, and you get into an accident (that hopefully isn’t your fault), then here’s how you request compensation:
Contact (customer_satisfaction[at]discovercars.com), and make sure you include the following documents:
- Your signed rental agreement
- Rental company’s assessment of the car’s condition when you picked it up and when you returned it
- Invoice from the rental company charging you the deductible/fees
- Receipts showing payment for the deductible
- Your Paypal or bank account details
- A detailed account of the incident (including photographs/video evidence if you have it)
- A written police report (if applicable)
This is pretty par for the course when it comes to renting a car. Always make sure you keep receipts and invoices just in case something bad happens.
4. Discover Cars: The Cons
So now let’s get into some of the shortcomings of Discover Cars.
It’s important to be aware that some of Discover’s pros can also be cons, and that some other cons are shared with most other car rental companies, and are just consequences of the variability of renting cars in general.
- Smaller, lesser-known companies
- One day rental is almost as expensive as renting for 3 days
- Not so many deals
- Higher age threshold
4.1 Smaller, lesser-known companies
Because of the nature of Discover’s service, which is to find customer’s the absolute cheapest options out there, you’ll inevitably wind up looking at rental options from companies you’ve never heard of.
A certain amount of trust and peace of mind can come with choosing a well-established, well-known company like Hertz, Avis, Enterprise or Budget.
On the other hand, these companies tend to bury fees in fine print and have their fair share of bad reviews, so take that with a grain of sand.
We reached out to Discover Car Hire directly and asked about this. They told us the following:
It is an absolute truth that Discover Cars partnered with the smaller, local car rental suppliers, operating in that one country, or even city.
They often offer lower prices to get their customers.
However, as mentioned, you also find the well-known companies.
In many cases these world-known companies provide special offers, therefore Discover Car Hire offer pretty good deals for the customers. For example, Europcar, Budget, Sixt are chosen quite often.
The main idea is not to provide the cheapest option, but to provide as many options as possible, so a customer can find the most suitable one, according to his or her needs. The customer support will always be happy to assist if any help is needed at this step.
Also, they help their customers to make a choice, which is right for them, by showing partner’s rating on the website discovercars.com. Suppliers with the greatest scores have even received a Discover Cars excellence award.
This being said, that everyone can find an option for a car rental: whether the price comes first, supplier, car type or fuel policy.
4.2 One day rental is almost as expensive as renting for 3 days
So if you just need a car for one day, maybe look elsewhere.
In fact, this is not really only a con of discover car hire/ discover cars. Renting a car for only 1 day is always expensive. The longer you have it, the cheaper it gets
For example, we looked at renting a car from Munich.
One day, with the $8.85/day full-coverage insurance, costs $94, while the total cost for three days is $150, or $50/day, almost half the cost per day! This is a larger discrepancy than other car rental companies we looked at. Budget, for example, offers one day at about the same rate as three.
While this is not a huge deal, it’s definitely something to keep in mind.
Truth be told, I do not see a reason why you would need to book a car for one day only anyways.
Also full coverage is more expensive if taken for one-day only (15.90 euros). It is a bit cheaper if it’s for two days (11.00 euros/day), and at its regular price if it’s for 3+ days (7.95 euros/day). The truth is that most of the customers rent a car for the period of 3-7 days to explore a particular location.
4.3 Not so many deals
One of the pros of going directly through a company like SIXT or Hertz is that you can get a membership rewards-type card.
If you rent cars frequently or even once or twice a year, this can be a super useful way to get discounts and deals that you can’t get through Discover.
Personally, I do not rent very often car. I am assuming, this is more for business travellers.
Yet again, we reached out to the car rental service for their take on this. Here is their statement:
This depends a lot on a location, searching time and travelling time. For example, right now we have added multiple deals for the January Sale (about which I believe you have received a separate email from me, please let me know if you didn’t).
We even have special car rental deals for Valentine’s day.
4.4 Higher age threshold
Discover Cars’ best rates are for people aged between 30-65. This lower limit of 30 years old is a bit higher than other companies.
So with Discover, you are missing out on possible deals offered through frequent driver programs with other companies, taking a bit of a risk by going with lesser known companies, and paying more if you just want to rent for a day.
But all in all, Discover is very cheap, offers a solid, affordable insurance option, has reasonable deductibles, and features a user-friendly website that gives you easy access to all the costs and options related to your rental.
Here is what Discover Cars says about their age threshold:
The age threshold depends on a location, car rental company, car type. For example, in Rome the same prices can be found for the 25y.o. driver, as for the 30-65. Prices’ connection to the driver’s age varies.
5. Things to Consider When Renting a Car
Now that we’ve looked at the pros and cons of Discover cars, let’s go through some things to think about in general when renting a car.
The number one thing to keep in mind is that costs will vary across the board depending on a bunch of different factors.
- Will you be crossing borders?
- Rates will change based on your country of residence
- Drop Off / Pick Up Points
- How Old Are You?
- Who will be driving?
- Debit/ Credit
So first, let’s take a look at what exactly will vary and why.
In most cases, you will have to pay a deposit, and this deposit will vary depending on the location where you pick up the car.
As I mentioned above, sometimes the deposit is equal to the cost of the rental plus %25 or $200, whichever is higher. In other locations, the deposit can be at least $200, or even a minimum of $500-$1,000.
It really can vary.
So how about a personal anecdote related to deposit that will serve as a cautionary tale for those of you looking into renting a car.
Your humble writer reserved a rental car through Hertz this past summer in Croatia. Online, the price seemed quite reasonable, at about $15/day for eight days.
I failed in quite a few ways in this case, one of the main ones being my research into possible fees.
When I got to the airport rental location outside of Dubrovnik, I was told that the price didn’t include insurance, or crossing borders, which required a special pass that cost extra (and get into a bit later). So just there the price just about double from what I was expecting.
To add insult to injury, I discovered that the deposit was over $1,500.
Now, I’m not a rich man, but I’m also not a poor man. I’m also quite happy with the limit of $1,000 on my credit card because I don’t use it much and mostly just rely on the money in my bank account. Problem was, Hertz (at least in Croatia) doesn’t allow you to use your debit card for the deposit.
So I was pretty…sad!
Luckily though, one of the employees in the little Hertz kiosk was able to phone a friend at one of the smaller, lesser-known companies occupying the same lot outside the airport which offered a deposit-free rental.
With insurance included, $200 for the 8 days was what I got, which wasn’t bad given the situation.
In the end, the little VW Up I drove around Croatia was in great condition, reliable and had excellent gas mileage. In the blur of the moment I didn’t scrutinize the deductible or any significant details, so I’m still not quite sure what exactly I risked in this deal.
But the moral of the story is: don’t be me. Do your research and be informed about what you’ll be paying for and how you’ll be paying for it.
5.2 Will you be crossing borders?
Another thing to consider is whether or not you’ll be crossing any borders.
And again, company policies change with regard to this depending on where you are and which company you’re going with.
To go back to my previous example, I purchased a border pass in Croatia because I knew I would be travelling into Bosnia and Herzegovina. I was told I would need to show this pass at any border crossing around the Balkans, however I didn’t end up showing it once.
Perhaps it was simply a legal requirement to have one in the car, but I could’ve definitely gotten away with not having it.
But in any case, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, and just the peace of mind of having it was enough to justify the extra, nominal fee.
Another great thing about Discover Cars, is that it gives you a list of geographical restrictions and policies right there in the “Rental Conditions” pop-up I mentioned earlier.
5.3 Rates will change based on your country of residence
Another important thing to be aware of, although there’s not so much you can do about it.
Just note that there is an option to choose your country of residence on most rental websites, including Discover Cars, and that whatever you choose should match the country on your driver’s license.
So don’t try to get cute and change the country of residence because it’s cheaper, only to arrive at the pick-up location and be charged extra because it’s inconsistent with your license.
5.4 Drop Off / Pick Up Points
Be aware that if you choose to drop off the car at a different location, then the price will increase significantly.
I talking maybe double the price. I’m always frustrated by this, because the idea of dropping the car off at a different point means getting to maximize the distance you can travel and things you can see, but the rental companies view this as extra risk.
If you plan on trying to explore as much as possible, it would be a good idea to plan a loop instead of going from A to B.
5.5 How Old Are You?
If you’re under 25-30, or over 65, then you’re going to be paying more for your rental car.
The prices we’ve been quoting from Discover Cars are for renters between the ages of 30-65.
Again, different rental companies have different age thresholds, so it’s important to check that out as well. For example, Budget Car Rental’s best offers are for people aged 25+.
So if you’re under 30, this is definitely something to take into consideration.
Finally, it’s important to keep in mind what the deductible (or excess) is on your rental car.
The deductible is the amount you pay up front if the car is damaged. Most car rental companies offer a deductible between 600-1500 dollars.
5.7 Who will be driving?
In many cases, adding an extra driver costs extra.
Sure, your girlfriend may have a license.
Maybe she’s an Indy Car driver. It won’t matter if someone T-bones you at an intersection.
If she’s not added as a driver, your insurance will be worthless. So if both of you plan on driving, it’s a safer bet to add her as an extra driver. Again, the cost of adding an extra driver varies depending on location.
As I’ve learned the hard way, certain companies/locations don’t accept debit cards.
But other companies/locations do.
Check out your specific situation to see what your options are. I used a debit card to rent a car in Turkey from Budget a few years ago. And they didn’t even ask for a deposit!
6. Other Things to Consider
We’ve looked at what can change based on location/company. Now how about some things for you personally to consider, regardless of location or company.
6.1 Fuel Efficiency
If you’ll be driving significant distances, definitely pay attention to the fuel efficiency of the car you choose. Most companies should list the MPG of each car they offer on their websites.
6.2 How Much Stuff Do You Have?
Or how many people will you be driving around with. Don’t get a mini car with barely enough space for two suitcases if there’s four of you with camping gear.
Most likely you won’t be renting a clowns car…
If you plan on driving on some mountain roads, or bumpy dirt access roads in the middle of a national park somewhere, it may be a good idea to go with a large car or SUV.
Most rental companies won’t cover damage that they feel is due to poor road conditions or off-roading in general.
7. How NOT to rent a Car
I hope you are well prepared now for the question on how to rent a car in Europe. Or anywhere in the world, pretty much.
Here is a few things we want to mention on how to NOT rent a car. I may repeat myself.
- When the car is dirty and smelly, decline it. I was once renting a car that smelled like cigars and hard-core party elements. yeah, let’s put it that way. It was disgusting. In my naivety, I did not decline the car and regret every single second in that vehicle.
- Pay attention to the fuel policy. FULL to FULL is always the best option.
- Check Google Reviews of your car rental company. This can reveal some nasty secrets. For instance, in Cyprus we wanted to rent a car with a super cheap company. Turns out, that company is incredibly rude, cancels your reservation if you arrive later than 1 hour, and more. Reading these reviews was almost like reading a thriller…
- Do not try to fake your country of residence; it does not work.
- Do not drive in areas you are not supposed to. Off-Road is really not a good idea.
- Personally, we always take insurance. It adds an extra cost, but in case you need, you will be very very happy!
- Ask for simple upgrades. Sometimes you can get a free extra driver. Once in Ireland we were renting a car for two weeks. The lady asked if we want to add me as a second driver; only my girlfriend would be driving. We declined as we wanted to keep the cost down. At the end she added me as an extra driver for free. Why? With a smile on her face, she said: “I want your girlfriend to enjoy her vacation too.“
- Always check the bumps and scratches. Take a video and photos and let the car rental agency know. Better safe than sorry.
8. Summing up the Discover Car Hire Review
When it comes to renting a car, it is really important to understand how variable the prices are depending on where you’re renting the car.
It’s also important to look at the deposit you’ll be expected to pay, and whether you can use a debit or credit card. Discover Cars offers a really nice website that makes all these variables easy to see so you can compare your options and end up with an affordable, insured rental car for your next trip.
More useful guides to travel Europe:
Now that you know how to get your vehicle situation sorted out, we have written more useful guides for you.
- Best things to do in Spain
- Best travel websites for Europe
- Vrbo – the better alternative to Airbnb? Read my full review of Vrbo
- Get Your Guide – is it the best way to buy your sightseeing tickets?
Over to you: Any questions?
Then please leave a comment below.
This guide on renting a car in Europe and using Discover Car Hire is supposed to be super helpful. Your questions actually help us and all our fellow travellers to make this article better. Do not be shy and write up your questions. We usually reply within 2 days.
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