When visiting any city, you need to be able to get around. Public transport tends to be very efficient, however, there’s nothing quite like having your own transport. Car hire can often be expensive, but in doesn’t need to be.

This is our guide for affordable car hire in London. 

Congestion charges

The first thing to consider when you hire a car in London is the congestion charges. Congestion charges are in effect in the centre of London, and effect the main stream areas, particularly those which see high volumes of traffic. You have to pay the congestion charge every time you enter the congestion zone. The charges are payable on a daily basis. The congestion charges were brought in as a way of discouraging cars and encouraging the use of public transport. The congestion charge was also introduced to try and lower the city’s carbon footprint. Therefore, the higher the Co2 emissions a car produces, the higher the congestion charge. This means you do not want to hire a monster SUV, or you will be paying the highest level of congestion charge every time you enter the city centre. The cars that are favoured by the congestion charges are the small and economical ones. Hybrids or electric cars are the cheapest of them all.

Hire companies

· The larger car hire companies will usually offer good deals on rentals for several days. It may cost you £50 to hire a car for the day, but only £150 to hire the car for five days.

· Booking your car in advance tends to secure a better rate than if you hire at the airport, so be organised and try to book your car in advance.

· Again, as with the congestion charges, the smaller cars are always cheaper. If you aren’t too bothered by aesthetics then go for the small run around, it will save you a lot of money.

· Use a comparison site to find the best rate. There are lots of companies that offer car hire, and as with anything, you just have to find the one with the best offer.

· Don’t get sucked in by the pitch the hire companies throw at you. They will try and sell you excess insurance and tell you that if you scratch the car then you’ll have to pay hundreds in excess, but…they can cover that for you. This excess insurance usually cost about £25 per day. You can arrange this cover via a third party company for less than half the price. Don’t be suckered in.

· If you are visiting London on a holiday, then you can often package in your flights, hotel and car hire for a reduced rate.

Licensing

When hiring a car in London you will need to provide proof that you are eligible to drive. If you are a non UK resident, then you will need to check whether your license is acceptable with the hire company. Most driving licenses will be accepted, but it’s always best to check.

The UK driving standard dictates that drivers pass not only the DSA (Drivers Standards Agency) practical test, but also the DSA Theory test. Ensure that your license meets the required standards for car hire, or the company will deny you hire.

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