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How can I reduce the cost of my rental car?

27 March 2023

Vehicle rental in Australia can be expensive, so you want to make the most of your car hire. Here we will share some tips and hacks about renting a vehicle and how to save money and avoid any unexpected or hidden fees! This can range from picking the correct vehicle in the first place, to considering little things like, is there an option for an airport pick up, what vehicle hire insurance and travel insurance do I require and why you get the best out of your vehicle hire when you work with an expert.

Getting the most out of your vehicle hire is important to get value for money from your holiday dollars. We are here to help you save money by making smart choices about your vehicle rental. Knowing the basics can help.

The Details About The Driver

You’ll need to be over 25 years of age, have a valid Australian driver’s license and credit card in order to rent a car. If you are over 21 years of age, you may be able to rent a vehicle, however there is a larger excess insurance cost if you have an accident. Your driving history may be reviewed, so consider if you are the most suitable person to be listed as the driver of a hire vehicle.

Some car rental companies do not have a surcharge or car hire excess for an additional driver, ask the questions and then decide if you need more than one driver. If the driver has an accident and is not a registered driver on your paperwork your insurance may be invalid.

So, when planning your trip, it pays to think ahead. Determine if you need to have more than one driver listed on your insurance coverage.

You are required to have a valid credit card so that a bond can be charged. This will put a hold on a set amount of money on your card, which will be released when the vehicle is returned as per your hire contract. It’s important to make sure you have a large enough credit limit to cover the bond and any other spending you will do.

Vehicle Hire And How To Save

Vehicle Model

In most cases the model of the vehicle you want to hire is not guaranteed. Advertising will say things like Model A or similar. This allows the hire companies the option of swapping vehicles around ensuring they can maximise the rentals available. Or providing alternative vehicles if one is under repair at the time of travel. At 4WD Hire Cairns you will get the vehicle type you selected unless it is under repair. If the type of vehicle you hired changes, don’t worry. It will be substituted for something that is suitable for the type of trip you planned.

Vehicle Assessment

When you pick up your vehicle, look the car over carefully before you leave the lot. You should take pictures on your phone as a visual record of the cars condition when you picked it up. You should note any scratches or dings on the rental agreement and have it initialed by the rental agency. When you return the car, make sure that they inspect it for any damage before you leave. This will help you to avid any extra charges for dents of damage.


Think about the rental location and what you are going to do with your hire car. If you only need the rental vehicle for part of the trip, plan your activities so that those that require transport are grouped together. Maximising the use of the vehicle so you’re not paying for it to sit in a car park. We also recommend having the car for the start or end of your trip so you can include airport pick-up or drop-offs, if available. This will save you a bit of money rather than paying for additional transport to and from the local airport.


What about the size of the vehicle and where you are going? This is not your forever car, so if it is not as big as you would like it is OK. It needs to have the right number of seat belts and storage for this trip and this trip only. Functionality takes precedence over Fancy when it comes to the daily fee. Also consider where you are going, for example some vehicles may have exclusions. Some providers do not allow you to travel to Cape York due to different insurance policies. Talk to the experts to make sure you hire the right vehicle for what you want to do.


We suggest talking to the car hire company, as different rental companies use different terminology for the different vehicle sizes. Something that is ‘mid-size’ can vary depending on who you talk to. Another way to save some money is bring your own GPS or child seats so you are not paying the extra charges for add-ons.

Make sure to carefully select and book the dates you require. Car hire providers may have a cancellation fee.

Plan Your Trip

Plan your trip – how many days do you need? You do not get a refund for returning a vehicle early. If you need to extend your hire, but this must be done a few days in advance. Be prepared for the hire company to say no. Usually the vehicle will be under hire for another customer after your booking, so you need to get it back by the due date to avoid a fine.

When travelling to Cape York the most important thing is getting the correct vehicle for your trip – that is where our local knowledge and experience can help.


Car rentals are based on dynamic pricing – this means the price of the vehicle will go up and down based on demand of when you want to use it (a bit like airline seats). So a great way to save money is to book early – before everyone else starts looking and prices rise. If at all possible try to travel outside of the peak seasons or school holidays as the daily rates will be cheaper. Regardless of when your planning to travel, you will save money by booking with rental car companies early.


You are usually required to return the car with a full tank, so do it on the way. It will be much cheaper than getting the rental company to do it for you. If it is included in the rental rate, then don’t do it – you will not get this refunded.

Vehicle Hire Insurance

Some car rental companies have compulsory car insurance built in, especially ones that go to remote locations like Cape York. Others have optional extras and different levels of coverage. You can also have a look at your travel insurance and see if it covers you for vehicle hire. No matter what you do, you need insurance on your vehicle. Make sure you factor this into your budget for your holiday.

We want to make your vehicle hire the most cost effective as we can. The convenience of your own transport is something that is worth paying for. Careful planning and expert advice are worth a lot when booking a hire car. Especially for unique destinations such as Cape York.

Another aspect to think about is if there is the option for a Collision Damage Waiver with you car rental company. Rental car agencies will include basic insurance as part of the hire fee. One way to achieve an excess reduction on this insurance is to pay an extra daily fee which will form the Collision Damage Waiver. This could save you thousands of dollars if a collision was to occur. Make sure you read the terms and conditions carefully. Not all parts of the car may be covered like tyres and the windscreen for example.

If you are planning a road trip in Far North Queensland, talk to our helpful team at 4WD Hire Cairns. Ask about local activities to make the most of your stay in the Cairns region. They are experts in car hire for Cape York Trips and can help you book the right car for trip to Cairns. We can also book you a vehicle anywhere in Australia, or in fact around the world.

Safe travels !