London car hire

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Go beyond Big Ben, past the palace and St Paul’s, say so long to the Shard and leave Westminster Abbey in your wake. Sure, central London is packed with a dizzying array of attractions, but book London car hire and let the rest of the country beyond the capital weave its special blend of magic.

You’ll want to explore London itself, of course, ticking off the big attractions, such as the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square and the nation’s favourite art galleries. And no first-time visit to London is complete without a spin on the London Eye, a stroll along the River Thames or a show in the West End.

Getting around central London is easy and cheap on public transport, via pedal power or on your own two feet. There are money-saving tips for your London trip over on our blog, as well as advice on how to spend two days in London and a handy list of free things to do in our capital. But if you really want to get to know the areas outside of central London, you’ll need your own wheels.

There are plenty of downtown pick-up locations, if you want to rent a car in the city centre. Central parking spots and the peak-time Congestion Charge, however, are costly. Unless you need the car for a business trip, or you’re a Londoner escaping the capital for a few days, it’s wise to keep your car rental for journeys outside of the central zone.

A smart alternative, whether you’ve just landed or want to spend a few car-free days in the capital before venturing further, is to look for budget rental deals with an airport pick up. London’s airports offer a huge selection of car hire deals. Simply search for car hire at Gatwick (LGW), Heathrow (LHR), London City (LCY), Luton (LTN) and Stansted (STN).

If you are thinking of booking car hire, London is a great place to start your road trip. But don’t leave it until you get there to book. By pre-booking car rental in London, you will secure your ideal type of vehicle and make significant savings on the walk-up price.

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Find answers to your questions

FAQs

What age do I need to be to hire a vehicle in London?

Legally, you can rent a car in London from 21 years old, but many car companies set a minimum age of between 23 and 25. If you’re under 25, certain classes of vehicle are often restricted and it’s likely you will need to pay a ‘young driver surcharge’. Many car hire companies set a maximum age between 70 and 75 years old.

What do I need to hire a vehicle in London?

You need a full driving licence that you have held for at least a year. You also need a valid debit or credit card and ID, such as your passport. Some companies ask for your insurance details, proof of address from a utility bill and, if you’re a UK driver, a DVLA check code. Non-UK and EU drivers will need an International Driving Permit.

Do I need car hire excess insurance in London?

No, but car hire excess insurance can help you save a lot of money on a claim for damage to your rental car. Car hire companies offer their own excess insurance, but it’s usually cheaper to use a standalone third-party where you pay the car hire company’s excess then claim the costs back from the insurer.

Can I rent a car with a debit card in London?

Most car rental companies prefer you to pay with a credit card, but accept major debit cards, too. We recommend you check with the company you’re renting with before you book. Ensure you have sufficient funds on your debit card to cover your car hire and additional security deposit.

Which rental companies are available at London Heathrow Airport?

At Heathrow Airport, you can hire from companies including Alamo, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Europcar, Hertz, National and Sixt.

Which rental companies are available at Gatwick Airport?

At Gatwick, you can rent a car from Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Europcar, Green Motion, Hertz, National, Sixt and Thrifty at Gatwick Airport. Most have desks in the North or South Terminal (which are linked by the free shuttle), but double check where to go before you arrive.

Is it cheaper to rent a car at the airport or off site in London?

There are plenty of great car rental deals available in London’s major airports. But the convenience of picking up at the airport means it can be more expensive. It’s usually cheaper to rent a car off site.

Can you rent a car in London and drop it off in another city?

Absolutely. Many car hire companies offer one-way rental, so you can pick up in London and drop off in another UK city. Expect to pay a surcharge if you’re not returning your vehicle to your original pickup location.

Can you rent a car on the same day in London?

Yes. You can make a same-day car hire booking in London. If you’re making a last-minute booking, check the price online as it’s often cheaper than hiring directly from the rental desk.

Can I hire a vehicle at 21 years of age in London?

The minimum legal age you can hire a car is 21 years old, but many car rental companies set their own age limits of between 23 and 25. They generally prefer you to have had a full driving licence for a year, and they usually add a ‘young driver surcharge’. Check the age restriction of the car provider before you book.

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