AdobeStock_GermanyCarForest
Explore the backroads of Germany via rental car
AdobeStock_GermanyCarForest
Explore the backroads of Germany via rental car

Gemut.com is the best option for car rental in Germany. We are a family-run company emphasizing low rates and knowledgeable customer service—before, during and after your trip. When you call us, you talk to a live human being who has been in the rental business for many years and can steer you away from car rental pitfalls and dangers. We’ll book your car rental in Germany with a major rental company at the lowest rates available, then provide 24/7 third-party in-Europe support and, if required, post-rental billing assistance.

There are several reasons to choose Germany as a base for touring Europe in a rental car. It’s central, of course, and has a great highway system, but the best reason may be cost.

Car Rental Rates in Germany

For several years, car rental rates in Germany have consistently been the lowest of any European country. In 2019, a midsize sedan could be rented for a week for a little as $160, including the 19% value added tax. France, Austria, Holland, Belgium, and especially Switzerland and Italy, are substantially higher.

For “outside the box” auto travelers, a quick look at a map can sometimes save important dollars. For example, why rent an intermediate sedan, such as a VW Passat or similar, in Salzburg, Austria, for around $325, when the same car is less than half the price, at around $160, just 10 minutes across the border, in Freilassing, Germany?

A longer rental, say 14 days, may even warrant a bit more of a detour. Instead of paying about $570 for an intermediate sedan at the Zürich Airport, it could be worth the 90-minintue train ride to Konstanz, Germany, where the same intermediate car is $240 for two weeks.

Germany’s car rental fleets probably offer Europe’s widest selection of vehicles; Mercedes, Audi, BMW, Volkswagen, Porsche, Opel and Ford all have factories in the country and are prominently featured in the rental fleets of the major companies.

The customer whose heart is set on driving a Mercedes, Audi or BMW has a much better chance of getting one of those brands in Germany than in any other European country. Rent in France and you're likely to drive away in a Renault, Citroen or Peugeot; in Italy Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Lancia dominate. (Always remember: rental companies book by category and will not guarantee a specific make or model.)

In late 2019, a luxury category sedan (Mercedes E-Class, BMW 5 Series, Audi A6) could be had for less than $300 per week in Germany. The same category car was about $400 in Paris and London, and over $500 in Rome.

And, of course, if you want to drive a high-end sports car 125 to 150 mph on the Autobahn, Germany is place to do it. Every year we book the Porsche 911 for a handful of customers. Rates range from about $350 to $450 per day, depending on length of rental and pickup locations.

Eastern European Car Travel

For travelers who plan to drive into Eastern Europe, Germany offers the best selection of vehicles allowed to cross the borders that once defined the Iron Curtain. In fact, for travel deep into the East, to such countries as Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Bosnia, Serbia and a few others, Germany is the only Western European country from which such a rental car itinerary is even possible.

Finally, Germany is a great place to explore by automobile; it offers a vast network of scenic, beautifully-maintained country roads, its drivers are skillful and predictable, and, of course, the adventurous traveler looking for some really fast motoring will find it on the Autobahn.

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“We rented a car for a week in Germany through Gemut.com. Bob Bestor and his crew are nothing short of fantastic! Not only did I get a rate that was 30% less than what I could get from other vendors but also got tremendous support is dealing with an overcharge from Avis we found on our CC after returning. Bob provided great counsel on the best way to handle the claim and made sure we understood all the deadlines for recovering the erroneous charges. We will definitely use Gemut for our Europe rentals in the future.”Posted by S. P. on Rick Steves’ Graffiti Wall.

Like all European countries, Germany car rental contracts call for fees over and above the basic rate. Price quotes from most car rental companies and brokers include value added tax, unlimited kilometers, plus third-party liability and fire insurance, and "premium station" fees if the rental originates at an airport or rail station. There can be other fees, however. They include:

Additional Drivers: Europcar charges €8 per day to a maximum €50. Avis charges €6 euros per day to a maximum of €60 for each extra driver. Hertz's fee is €12 per day, €12 a week, to a maximum €180 per rental.

Winter Tires: Now mandatory on Germany car rentals and you can be fined if caught driving in snow without them. Usually included in the quoted rate.

Road/Registration Fees: Typically about $1 - $1.50 per day.

GPS: Sometimes free on upscale cars but not on economy, compact or midsize vehicles. Prices vary from about €7 per day to around €16 per day. Some GPS systems furnished with Germany rental cars operate only in Germany.

Equipment Rental: Baby/child seats are usually available for about $10 per day on Germany car rentals to a maximum of about $65 per rental. Ski racks are available for most cars at about $9 per day to a maximum of about $60 per rental. Luggage racks are generally not available on Germany rental cars.

Germany Car Rental Delivery/Collection: For an additional fee, and under certain conditions, most Germany car rentals of more than four days can be scheduled for hotel delivery and/or collection. Fees start at around $35.

Optional Insurance: See our section on Car Rental Insurance

First you need to know that all rental companies guarantee by category, not specific make or model. When your reservation says “four-door, manual transmission, compact VW Golf or similar with a/c” it means that you’re guaranteed an air-conditioned car in the compact category with four doors and manual transmission. The “or similar” language means you will get a Golf or a car similar to a Golf, such as a Ford Focus, Opel Astra or other compact car.

Once in a while your reservation may specify a diesel engine, but for the most part this is a feature you must request at the time of rental. It is seldom guaranteed in advance though for €3 per day Avis will guarantee a diesel engine in Germany.

Higher end cars come with factory-installed GPS, but for most economy, compact or intermediate rental cars in Germany you’ll have to pay a few euros per day extra for a portable GPS device. Whether factory-installed or portable, don’t expect your GPS to work outside of Germany. If you want to be 100-percent certain of a GPS that works throughout Europe, take your own...just be sure to load European maps prior to leaving home.

Unlike a dozen or so years ago, most cars in Germany are now air-conditioned. Only a few of the smallest, economy cars are not.

Forget about requesting such items as a certain color, a hatchback, or a sunroof. You will be wasting your time. However, most economy and compact cars are hatchbacks and most of the sedans have a regular trunk. A few cars have sunroof, mostly intermediates and above, but it’s not a feature than can be guaranteed or even requested, except at the rental counter. Virtually all rental cars in Germany are equipped with a radio and CD player.

You can expect that your rental car in Germany will carry all necessary safety equipment required by law for driving in Germany, with the exception of winter tires, which are a substantial extra charge.

Some major cities have established “Green Zones” and require cars to have a special permit to drive in them. Your Germany rental car will have the necessary stickers. However, unless you get lucky, your car will not come with stickers for Autobahn travel in other countries that require them, such as Austria, Switzerland and the Czech Republic (see “Vignettes”).

For the most part, German rental cars can be driven throughout Western Europe. Italy is off-limits for some more expensive cars such as Mercedes, BMW, and Audi. In fact, a few luxury models are not allowed to leave Germany at all. When it comes to travel to former eastern bloc countries, some German rental car companies (notably Avis) allow travel for a limited number of makes and models—mostly Opels, Fords, and Skodas. You will pay a small premium to take those cars to Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia. However, the price will be even higher and there may additional fees as well if you plan to venture in to such countries as Bulgaria, Romania, Bosnia, Montenegro, and countries that were part of the former Soviet Union. Make sure your booking confirmation and rental contract specify just where you can and cannot drive your Germany rental car.

Companies such as Europcar, Avis, and Hertz have literally hundreds of offices throughout Germany. However, since there is a 20% surcharge on rentals commencing at German airports and rail stations you will probably want to pickup your car at a city office. In smaller towns the rental car franchisee of an international rental company may be in family-run service station/convenience store with a tiny selection or cars...and you might have to wait while the owner pumps gas or sells a liter of milk.

Though a rental car in Germany will cost the same in a small town as in big cities like Frankfurt, Munich, Berlin and Hamburg, you’ll get more knowledgeable service and a better selection of vehicles in metropolitan areas. For example, even though you have a confirmed booking for an automatic transmission, complaints about promised automatics not being available invariably come from smaller towns and not from major cities. Insurance can be another problem at a small-town rental counter that sees few North American customers. Since their credit cards rarely provide collision and theft coverage, Europeans routinely purchase the optional insurance. Thus rental agents unused to dealing with North American often assume they, too, want the optional coverage. If you aren't careful when signing the rental contract you could come home a substantial, unintended charge for insurance on your credit card statement.