Avoid high airport car rental fees by picking up off-airport.

'Car' 'Airport.' When connected, those two words cost travelers many millions of dollars every year. In Europe, airport car rental charges range from about $19 in Finland to 20% of the total cost of the rental in Germany and Switzerland.

An airport car rental in the latter two countries means a 20 percent surcharge is added to every rental. The cost of the rental usually includes the basic cost of the rental plus the value added tax—in Germany's case that's 19%. Thus even the tax is taxed.

Let’s say you want an airport car rental from Frankfurt or Munich for two weeks in a midsize car. If picked up at an off-airport location you’d pay about $550. But since it’s an airport car rental, the price becomes $660; a tidy $110 charge just for the convenience of getting the car at the airport. This 20-percent fee also applies to rail station car rentals.

Airport car rental fees in other countries

Airport car rentals in Austria, Italy and Holland also incur fees of 15-percent or more. A flat fee is applied to airport car rentals in England, Ireland, France, Spain, Belgium, Portugal and Denmark (see list below).

Many North American travelers are not aware they can avoid these airport rental car fees by simply arranging to pick up the car at a rental car office not located at an airport or rail station. (A note of caution: some companies are starting to charge “premium station” fees for some downtown offices.) At the end of the rental they can return the car to the airport at no extra charge. One exception here is Hertz which, in Germany, charges 20 euros for all rentals not returned to it originating station in Germany.

Finding off-airport car rental locations

If, for example, you plan a Frankfurt Airport car rental both Europcar and Avis have offices just three miles away in Kelsterbach. The taxi fare is about 10 euro; especially if your rental is for a week or more. The longer the rental, and the more expensive the car, the more you save by going off airport.

In Munich, Europcar has a location in Erding, about nine miles from the airport. Zürich Airport has trains every 10-minutes to the main rail station downtown. From there, it’s a quarter of a mile to the Europcar office on Josefstrasse. And there are off-airport stations just a few minutes from the Stuttgart Airport.

By going off-airport to rent your car in Europe you may even avoid some of the long lines that are often the case at European airport rental car counters. But don’t expect a free shuttle to take to an off-airport car rental location. You’ll have to get there on your own.

So when booking a car in Europe don’t immediately settle for an airport rental car without inquiring about off-site locations where you likely can avoid those airport rental car fees.

Remember, those two words ‘car’ and ‘airport’ can cost you money.

Approximate Airport Rental Car Fees in Selected European Countries:

  • Austria 15%
  • Belgium $70
  • Czech Republic 12%
  • Denmark $76
  • England $36
  • France $52
  • Germany 20%
  • Finland $19
  • Ireland $41
  • Italy 16%*
  • Netherlands 16% (min. $80)
  • Portugal $49
  • Spain $38
  • Switzerland 20%

* Percentage can vary, depending on company

Book your rental car in Europe with Gemütlichkeit's travel department and get the best rates, personalized, knowledgeable service and our unique at-the-rental-counter safety net that ensures our customers get what they are promised. We book with all the major companies in more than 35 countries. See the new Germany rates and get an e-mail quote here. If you have questions about rentals in Europe, or simply prefer to deal in-person, phone us at 800-521-6722.

For the Internet's best advice on European car rental, see our FREE special report “What You Should Know About Renting a Car in Europe.”