‘Keep it simple’ is good advice in many of life’s endeavors, including renting a car in Europe. Avoiding frills and extras will reduce costs and headaches.

As we begin the year, the best and most straightforward European rental car deals are in Germany and France. There, for from $150 to $160, including the 19% or 20% value added tax, you can get a compact car, VW Golf or similar with air-conditioning and four doors, for a full week. That price, however, can quickly escalate if you start adding such extras as additional drivers, automatic transmission, navigation (GPS), starting and ending the rental in different countries, and so on. Such embellishments can also add complications.

Recently, a customer wanted to rent a car in Dublin then drop it in London. Yes, that’s possible we told him—provided you’re willing to spend several thousand dollars. However, since Avis, Hertz, Budget, Europcar, et al., simply won’t allow it, the only option would be a vendor that specializes in exotic rentals.

While that’s a rather extreme example, we hear every day from people who, with just a small adjustment, could save hundreds of dollars. The idea of picking up a car in Salzburg and dropping it somewhere in Germany is a case in point. Why not instead take a 10-minute train ride to Freilassing in Germany and begin your rental there? Or Lörrach, Germany, instead of Basel. You’ll get the car in Germany where rates are lower than in Austria and Switzerland, and you’ll avoid the $100-to-$350 international drop charge.

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.”

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