what questions should i ask when renting a car in australia (5)

What Questions Should I Ask When Renting A Car in Australia?

There are a few different options when it comes to renting your car out in Australia, from basic “key handover” type arrangements to integrated systems where you don’t need to meet borrowers at all. Do you spend hundreds of dollars a month on a car that sits idle for most of the week? You’re not alone. Owning and running a new small car can cost nearly $8000 a year. Of course, you’ll pay a bit less if you don’t drive it every day, but the bulk of the cost is what you spend to own a car: the depreciation, rego, insurance, servicing and repairs. By renting out your car, you can save money by turning it from a drain on your wallet into a money maker and potentially a new business.

You Can Rent Out Your Car In Australia If:

  • It is safe and comfortable for people to drive
  • It is available a fair amount of the time - i.e. you don’t drive it every day
  • It has registration with appropriate CTP insurance
  • It is located in an area where there is a peer-to-peer car rental platform operating
  • It is not too old (the age limit depends on the platform, but it should generally be no older than a 2001 model)
  • You are willing to do a bit of housekeeping to keep your car ready to borrow
  • You don’t have a criminal history and have a good credit history

what questions should i ask when renting a car in australia (1)

There are a few different options when it comes to renting your car out to someone in Australia, from basic “key handover” type arrangements to integrated systems where you don’t need to meet borrowers at all. Providers typically organise to install a GPS tracker in your car, organise damage and loss cover for borrowers and manage payments for you. You have the ultimate control over when you want to rent out your car.=

Fees, Taxes, Duties, Levies, Charges Again.

Rental car companies love fees, especially hidden fees, but they can’t advertise a price that’s only part of the cost of hire unless they also display the total price at least as prominently. So, for example, they can’t state the car hire costs $40 a day but then stick an unavoidable cost on top, like $10 for administration fees or taxes, unless they also advertise the minimum total amount of $50 just as prominently as they advertised the $40 before the fees.

In other words, if you see two prices advertised for a hire car, then you can presume the higher price is the real one. And if you don’t see another price advertised, but they spring some extra compulsory costs on you, you should mention they’re in breach of the ACL. Note that this doesn’t include other costs such as parking fees and toll fees or optional extras that you may choose to pay, like adding a GPS or that doozy that rental car companies love excess reduction.

Top Tips For Renting A Car

Before The Hire

  • Read the contract terms and conditions before you select a rental company.
  • Inspect your vehicle carefully in the presence of a sales assistant before taking possession of your car. Make sure all pre-existing damage, no matter how minor, is documented.
  • Photograph the vehicle at the beginning and end of the hire. Try to time-stamp the photos and, if possible, get the sales assistant in the photos too.
  • Ask for information about what to do in the event of a breakdown or accident.
  • Find out whether you need to bring the vehicle back with a full tank and the charge per litre if you don’t.

During The Hire

  • As you drive out of the car hire depot the first thing to check for, apart from a running motor, is the nearest petrol station so you can fill up on return without incurring the exorbitant fuel charges.
  • If the vehicle breaks down during the rental or you have an accident, follow the company’s procedures. Don’t have it repaired without approval.

After The Hire

  • In our 2016 investigation of Avis and Hertz, we found fuel mark-ups approaching 300%. Fill up the vehicle as close to the drop-off point as possible and keep your receipt to avoid a refuelling fee.
  • While you’re filling up, hose down your vehicle before returning it so that any potential damage is visible.
  • To avoid having to pay for someone else’s misdeeds, aim to return your car during opening hours.
  • Get a company representative to inspect the vehicle in your presence immediately upon return.
  • If there is no damage, the ACCC suggests you ask for a written statement noting that the car was returned undamaged.
  • Work out any disputes over damages on the spot.
  • If you have a complaint, contact your local fair trading or consumer affairs office for advice or if it was an overseas hire, check the advice from consumer advocates in that country.

Most importantly, your car needs to be safe. Secondly, it needs to be comfortable for people to drive. Your car should be:

  • Roadworthy – Your car must be in safe, reliable working order. If you are unsure how safe your car is, have it checked by a licensed mechanic. This is essential for your safety, even if you aren’t renting it out.
  • No older than a 2001 model - Cars manufactured before 2001 don’t necessarily have all the features we would consider standard these days (like airbags), so many peer-to-peer car-sharing schemes set a limit on the age of the car. The limits vary from scheme to scheme, so you should check if your car is eligible for each of them.
  • In good condition - A few small scratches here and there are fine, but the car should be in good working order.
  • Clean - Nobody likes the feeling of being in a dirty car! Your car should be kept clean on the inside and outside.

Nobody will be able to rent your car out if you are always using it. Your car should be available for at least half the time each week for you to make a decent income, but the more available your car is, the more you’ll earn.

  • Is your car available on weekends? Most bookings are made on weekends, so if you don’t use your car much on Saturday and Sunday, you could get some good bookings from Borrowers.
  • Is it available at the same place all the time? Borrowers book cars that are close to them. If you take your car to work some days, but it sits at home other days, borrowers won’t be able to plan and know that your car will be at the right place when they need it.
  • Do you want to rent your car out long term? With some car-sharing options like Drive My Car, you can rent your car out for months at a time when you go overseas or don’t need your car for an extended period. Other car-sharing services let you rent out your car for shorter periods.

If you want to rent out your car, it needs to be in an area where a peer-to-peer car rental platform operates. There are three major peer-to-peer car-sharing operators in Australia:

Car Next Door

  • Operates throughout Australia
  • Car Next Door provides you with a GPS tracker, key lockbox and calendar management system so that you don’t need to meet Borrowers.
  • You manage the car’s calendar and make it available to Borrowers whenever you’re not using it. You can block out the car for times when you need it yourself.
  • Members can borrow for just an hour or weeks at a time.
  • Bookings include damage and loss cover and roadside assist for borrowers; you need your policies to cover your car at other times
  • You’re reimbursed for fuel that borrowers use
  • You set the rates for your car
  • Borrowers are screened for ID, driver’s licence, credit history and criminal history. No provisional drivers.

Drive My Car

  • Operates Australia-wide
  • Long-term car-sharing option: minimum of 2 days, up to a year.
  • The key handover model means you will need to arrange to meet with the borrower to rent out your car.
  • You set the rates for your car and agree to an included number of kilometres for the booking.
  • GPS is optional.
  • Insurance for borrowers only; you still need your comprehensive insurance.
  • Borrowers are screened for ID, driver’s licence, credit history and criminal history. No provisional drivers.

Car Hood

  • Operates at Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane airports only
  • Park your car at the airport when you are travelling and get free parking
  • Your car is rented out while you are away, and you’re paid around $10-15 per day
  • Short to long term. No hourly rates for borrowers.
  • GPS is optional
  • Insurance for borrowers only, you still need your insurance
  • Borrowers are screened for ID and driver’s licence. No provisional drivers.

The rules differ between rental providers. Generally, cars are only rented out to drivers over 21 who hold a full, unrestricted licence. Eligible drivers under 25 years of age may need to pay a daily surcharge, and there may be restrictions on which vehicles can be rented.

Car rental companies usually have blanket insurance policies that cover their entire fleet of vehicles; however, if your rental car is lost, damaged, or stolen, you’ll be liable for the excess amount, which generally ranges from $3,350 to $9,000.

FAQs Should I Ask When Renting A Car

Compare And Save On Car Rental

With international travel likely off the table for a while, a self-drive holiday in Australia provides the golden opportunity to explore the diversity a different state or region has to offer closer to home. Plan and book in advance to secure great deals on car rental available across all Australian locations as suppliers look to build the business back up again and get people back on the road. So make 2021 a year to remember beyond COVID and discover Australia in a self-drive holiday of a lifetime.

You have been comparing the cost of car hire since 2003, you’ll find the best deals in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Ireland, the US and the UK, to name but a few. Our partners include Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Europcar, Firefly, Hertz, Keddy, Thrifty, with access to thousands of rental vehicles and locations worldwide at your fingertips to compare and select from.

When renting a car at an Australian airport, all the bases are covered with rates and vehicles for all Australia’s major airports from every onsite rental provider. Rental prices and vehicles are laid out in an easy to read grid, allowing you to instantly compare the best deals, daily rates and review vehicle features before you book. Making a booking is quick and easy with instant confirmation, and with most of our suppliers, there’s no need to enter credit card details when booking, present your card when you collect your vehicle.

We understand that it’s not just about finding the best online deal available. Providing great customer service, talking to someone and exceeding your expectations are all of paramount importance to us. Our Reservations team are there to help and answer your questions via the phone, online chat or email.

Advantages Of Hiring A Car 

  • Instant rental rate comparison
  • Independent - Free and objective comparison and booking service
  • Choice - No one offers more choice of rental brands
  • Airport car hire specialists - last minute car hire deals at airports right around the world
  • One Way Rental Deals - from as little as a $5 day
  • Instant booking confirmation
  • Drive-away prices including all taxes and levies (excludes young driver surcharge)
  • Lowest price guarantee
  • Over 1600 Australian locations
  • We are local - 100% Australian owned and operated

What Driving License Do I Need To Hire A Car In Australia?

what questions should i ask when renting a car in australia (4)

A current full and valid driver’s licence is held for at least 12 months, without restrictions. Your licence must be shown when picking up your vehicle, along with the licenses of any additional drivers. Probationary licences are not accepted. All licences must be English or supported by a certified translation or International Driving Permit. For non-English driving, licenses should be accompanied by an International Driving Permit.

Can I Use A Digital License To Hire A Car?

No. You must present the hard copy version of your license when hiring a car. NSW digital driving licenses and those from overseas are not accepted independently.

Can I Use Someone Else’s Credit Card To Pay For My Car?

No. All renters must use a credit card in their name when collecting and paying for the rental vehicle for security purposes.

Why Is Car Hire More Expensive Today?

Since early 2020 the Covid Pandemic has reduced the demand for rental cars worldwide with less travel and country or state lockdowns. As a result, rental companies have reduced their inventories. The restocking of these rental fleets has been further hit by the global computer chip shortage, causing delays in the supply of new vehicles. Less supply and greater demand have pushed rental rates up. Over time as rental fleets build up again and travel resumes, pricing will return to or get closer to pre-pandemic levels.

How To Reduce Car Hire Insurance Liability?

All rental cars come fully insured. However, the hirer is liable for an initial amount in the event of an accident or damage. This excess amount varies between suppliers but can be upwards of $4000. However, you can reduce your liability to a few hundred dollars or less by paying the rental company a daily fee, which generally adds around $30 per day to your rental costs. Many travel insurance policies will include car excess reduction options. Alternatively, there are specific insurance policies written to cover car rental. Learn more about Australian car rental insurance options. Whichever option you elect to take, remember that in the event of an accident, secure copies of all documentation, police reports and, if possible, take photos.

Do I Have To Return My Hire Car To The Same Branch?

No. One way rentals are a common occurrence. However, in some countries and locations, there may be a one-way fee, and this is especially common when picking up or dropping off at remote rental branches in Australia.

How Do I Pay For Road Tolls When Renting A Car?

Most rental providers will automatically charge your account with any road tolls incurred whilst renting their vehicles. Speak with your chosen car rental supplier about options to pay when you collect your hire car.

Can I Take My Rental Car To The Ski Fields In Australia?

No. Not unless you have purchased a specific snow package from the car hire company. Driving a rental car above the snow line in Australia without a snow package voids your insurance cover, and you are liable for all and any damage to a vehicle. The Snow package includes snow chains, which are mandated in Australia above the snow line.

How Many Drivers Can I Nominate For My Rental?

Some rental companies will allow you to nominate a second (and more) driver for free, whilst others charge a small daily fee per additional driver. All must have full and valid licenses covering the vehicle being hired.

Is It More Expensive To Hire A Car With Manual Or Automatic Transmission?

Unlike some countries, the cost to rent a car in Australia with automatic transmission is generally the same, if not cheaper, than a manual. This is because the majority of rental cars in Australia are automatic. This makes renting a car that easier for those who hold driving licenses covering only automatic vehicles.


Checking the vehicle you’re going to rent for damage is standard practice, but that doesn’t make it any less important. Please make sure you look for any damage on the hire car and have a staffer at the rental branch take note of dings and dents you see (they normally have a form and vehicle diagram to mark this on). Also, take photos of these blemishes with your smartphone. Some car rental agencies will charge an arm and a leg to refill their vehicles with fuel. Avoid such stinging fees by making sure you fill up before your return. Learn about flat fuel charge options if you don’t want to mess with refilling the tank yourself, or ask the branch staff where a nearby petrol station is so you’re not wasting time cruising around a city you might not be familiar with.

Scroll to Top