If you drive in Abu Dhabi, renting a vehicle may be more practical. But first, be sure that you know what you’re getting into before driving away
While owning a car is the dream for most of us, the high maintenance cost and years’ worth of mortgage fees can be a drawback, especially in today’s financially trying times.
This is where the convenience of renting a car comes in.
People rent cars for a myriad of reasons. Some prefer to lease vehicles during long trips to spare their own cars from wear and tear or to accommodate more passengers, while others use it as a temporary replacement while their car is under repair. Or maybe you don’t want the burden of having to sell a car when you leave the UAE.
Tourists, on the other hand, often find renting more efficient than taking public transportation, as it can allow people to make the most of their time here, visiting more places when they are out exploring.
Certainly, renting a car offers numerous advantages that appeal to a broad range of individuals. With all that being said, here are the things to keep in mind when renting a car in the UAE to ensure you get the best deal and an option that suits your needs.
Requirements and rates
To be eligible to rent a car in the UAE, a driver should be at least 21 years old with a valid UAE driver’s licence. Other required documents include a copy of your passport, resident’s visa and Emirates ID.
For visitors from neighbouring countries, a valid GCC country-issued licence is required, while other nationals will be asked to present their international driving licence along with passport and visa copy.
Take note that not all international licences are honoured. As of October 2017, there are 30 countries, including the UK, US, France, Japan, Germany, Finland and Slovakia, among others, whose citizens are entitled to use their native driver’s licence here.
It’s best to check the licence status with the rental company beforehand to avoid disappointment. For reference, visit mofa.gov.ae.
Rental rates differ, and often range between AED 70 to AED 90 per day or less, depending on the car model.
Luxury brands are understandably priced much higher. German Rent A Car, for example, offers its high-end fleet, which includes Bentley and McLaren models, from around AED 2,000 to AED 3,500 per day.
Dollar, meanwhile, charges AED 1,024 per day for its Chevrolet Tahoe. But it also carries other top brands that are reasonably priced for daily rentals like Mercedes for AED 536, Dodge for AED 587 and Mini Cooper for AED 315.
In terms of payment, which can be made in cash, bank transfer or credit card, the client only needs to pay the amount covering the period – daily, weekly or monthly – in which the car will be hired.
“There’s no need to place a down payment. But some long-term lease deals usually require three months’ advance for brand new cars,” explains Katja Oldenburg, credit controller for UAE-based car rent firm, Progress.
Most car rental companies, however, require a refundable deposit amount of at least AED 1,000 for security purposes. This will allow the company to automatically deduct from the customer when needed, particularly when it comes to traffic-related fines.
Leasing a car means not having to worry about tedious paperwork such as registering, insuring and servicing the vehicle – all these are taken care of by the rental company.
Renters, though, must carefully read through the contract to gain a clear understanding of other surcharges that might apply.
“It will help to know the mileage restrictions and insurance terms as there are corresponding amounts chargeable when you exceed the limit or get involved in an accident,” Katja points out.
Mileage restrictions pertain to the number of kilometres that a renter is allowed to drive the car without additional charges. There are some companies that offers unlimited mileage, though, so it’s worth asking around to get a good deal.
A basic comprehensive insurance should be automatically included in your rental rate.
But in addition to that, there’s an excess insurance coverage stipulated in the contract should the car incur major damages. This is necessary so that the car rental company can make insurance claims if needed.
Keep in mind that it is the renter’s responsibility to pay the excess insurance amount in the event of any damage caused to the vehicle.
“The rate depends on the type or value of the vehicle. Let’s say for luxury vehicles, the excess amount can be anywhere from AED 1,000 to AED 3,000, normal saloon cars is usually from AED 600, while SUVs are usually around AED 1,000,” elaborates Katja.
The excess insurance applies per damage and per police report and is applicable for damage at fault or without a third party involved.
“Some companies like us offer CDW, or collision damage waiver, to select customers, particularly repeat customers who have a good track record. The CDW is an optional damage insurance that minimises the financial liability of the customer,” notes Katja.
“A police report is a must and the respective charges imposed by the authorities are the responsibility of the customer. For black point charges, customers are advised to visit the police station for direct clearing within 48 hours from the time of notification.”
Other details to keep an eye on include penalties for late turnover of the vehicle – there is usually a grace period of two hours – and charges for flat or damaged tyres.
Car rental companies discourage clients from using leased vehicles for off-road driving. Renters should keep in mind that any damage obtained by the car is their responsibility and they might end up paying more to cover the repairs.
“Off-road driving leaves the car susceptible to damage, even if it’s not major. More often than not, something will happen to the car because of the rough conditions. In general, driving off-road must be done with private cars and not with rented models,” explains Katja.
Usually, driving the car outside the UAE’s borders will be strictly prohibited. But there are some companies that allow their cars to be driven, let’s say in Oman, for urgent purposes such as a visa run, but this would typically be done by special arrangement and with additional cost.
Take note also that only the registered person is allowed to drive the leased vehicle. An additional driver can be registered under the same vehicle by submitting necessary documents including valid licence, visa copy and by paying a registration fee.
Again, car rental companies differ in their policies so it’s best to scout for options to compare prices, conditions and guidelines.
“The most important thing is to know the stipulations in the contract and ask questions,” Katja advises.
“If you go to the small car rental shops around the corner, the terms and conditions of the insurance details are in small print. In the end, the client ends up paying more because he’s not aware of certain conditions.
“So it’s best to review the contract before committing. This will help avoid disputes and misunderstanding between you and the rental company.”
And of course, don’t forget to drive safely and follow the road laws and regulations at all times.
“Treat the car as if it’s your own. Take care of the vehicle and drive carefully – your safety is always the priority. All these will make the experience enjoyable and will [allow you to] maximise the benefits of renting a car.”
Want to rent a car? These companies are here to help…
- Progress. Al Otaiba Tower, Zayed the Second Street (next to KM Trading). Contact: 02 622 9943, progresscars.com
- Europcar. Mushrif Mall, 25th Street, Airport Road. Contact: 02 650 0109, europcar-abudhabi.com
- Dollar. Novotel Abu Dhabi Al Bustan, corner of Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed and Rabdan Streets. Contact: 02 641 9002, dollaruae.com
- Thrifty. Khalidiyah Mall, Mubarak Bin Mohammed Street. Contact: 02 658 2795, thriftyuae.com
- Hertz. Al Raha Etihad Plaza, Khalifa City. Contact: 02 556 9130, hertz.ae
- German Rent A Car. Tilal building, Al Salam Street. Contact: 02 628 1118, germanrac.com
WORDS Ferdinand Godinez