Van? Sedan?

You're taking the family to Europe and everybody wants to ride together in the same vehicle. One of those seven-passenger minivans sounds like just the ticket for your party of six. There are two important reasons why you may be better off with two midsize cars instead; luggage space and money. A seven-passenger vehicle may be o.k. for hauling kids to soccer games but it simply doesn't have enough storage space to handle luggage for six persons traveling in Europe. You can move up to a roomier nine-passenger van but your credit card (an exception is Amex's Premium Rental Car Insurance) will probably not provide collision and theft insurance coverage; you'll have to buy it from the rental company. Two midsize sedans will be less expensive. The best price I know for a seven-passenger van in Germany for one week is $734 with tax. A midsize car for a week is $273, or $546 for two cars. A nine-passenger van costs the same in Germany but having to buy insurance brings the price to $870 (credit card companies exclude coverage of the nine-passenger vehicle by maintaining it is on a truck chassis).

A seven-passenger van in France is $1021 and the nine-passenger with CDW and theft insurance is $1189. A midsize car is $431.

In Italy, where CDW and theft insurance must be purchased from the rental company, two midsize cars ($569 each) are about the same as a seven-passenger van ($1139) and a few dollars less than the $1213 nine-passenger vehicle.

The difference is most pronounced in Switzerland where the best van deal is $922 for a seven-passenger and the nine-passenger is $1059 with insurance. One midsize car can be rented for $353. Do the math.

In summary, I don't recommend a seven-passenger van if there are more than five travelers. The more expensive nine-passenger van can probably accommodate up to seven people with luggage, but space will be very tight. Even though fuel cost is a factor with two vehicles, for parties of six, seven, and eight people, you'll definitely be more comfortable and usually save money by renting two midsize cars. Get a European car rental quote here.

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