My Car Rental Experience in Dublin, Ireland (Self-Drive)

By | November 17, 2023
Europcar Car Rentals Dublin ireland

I was in Ireland and UK on a month long trip during Sep/Oct 2023 and was doing a couple of day trips often. One fine day me and my friend decided to take a rental car (self-drive) in Ireland to explore Galway & Cliffs of Moher for a weekend from Dublin.

And here I’m sharing my experience with car rentals in Ireland which might be useful for you when you’re exploring Ireland or anywhere in Europe for that matter as it works largely similar.

Btw, both UK & Ireland follow left lane driving (driver on right) just like in India, I guess it’s because Ireland and India were under British rule. And one can drive in Ireland with Indian driving license.

Amex Concierge

So to begin with, I requested American Express Platinum Travel Concierge to look for available options. 

While I’m happy with Plat Concierge in the past couple of years, I’m quite disappointed recently with the drop of email support, which I’ll cover some other day. 

So I was given a decent option through Hertz as Amex Platinum has Hertz Gold membership discount. Here’s a Quick Look:

amex concierge hertz quote

I guess that’s a fair price for a premium Electric Vehicle. But I thought of booking it later and left it there as I prefer to book when travel date is closer.

Hertz Experience

As the days got closer, I started exploring options on the hertz website only to realize that it’s such a painful experience to search on their website, especially when you want to check the availability on multiple locations nearby.

I wonder how on earth Hertz is running a massive business with such a poor user experience.

Anyway, the problem was that no cars were available 2 days prior. On checking why, I heard my friend say that a lot of Europeans travel during weekend and so it’s obvious!

So I started looking at other options like kayak, etc and finally found a decent deal on booking.com for Ford Focus and most other options were unavailable.

Booking.com Experience

europcar booking details

It was quite a surprise that we were able to book a nice car for 50€ a day+ 20€ insurance (120EUR in total) for 2 days, as other portals were showing higher rates.

That aside here’s something I got to know:

While looking for options, one thing that set out booking.com from others is that almost every site redirects you elsewhere with totally different options than what was chosen, but booking.com had all the details with them without any redirection and with very good user experience. 

At Dublin airport

So we went to the Dublin airport’s car rental counter and could see large queues, like 20 in each counter easily. 

Europcar queue was as high as Hertz but fortunately they moved us directly to the pickup center as we had the booking already. 

That aside, one thing I noticed is that there is a separate line for “hertz gold” which is available as complimentary with Amex Plat Charge as mentioned before. That’s easy 1hr savings at airport if you’re into Hertz car rentals. 

EuropCar experience

We finally went to EuropCar’s pickup area at Dublin airport an hr or so past our actual reporting time.

The counter guy at Europcar pickup centre was very friendly and came up with something new, which was a different insurance plan with “no excess”. 

In other words, no matter how big or small the damage is, we don’t need to pay anything. This costs 80€. So the options were like:

  • 20€ prepay, 1600€ hold on card (booking.com plan)
  • 80€ prepay, no hold, no liability (Europcar plan)

We went with 80€ plan to have a peace of mind. So now the guy went to check the availability of the car, only to come back saying that the car isn’t available now. 

After going back and forth to check the availability for an alternate option which is Toyota CHR, he finally came back with a key and said, “I’ve something special for you guys today”.

After a bit of paperwork he finally said “I’ve upgraded your booking to Audi A6 etron hybrid and here’s your key”.

Wow!!

We were extremely pleased to hear that and at the same time worried a bit, as part of the trip has to be done through narrow roads along the Wild Atlantic Way.

car at wild Atlantic way
car at cliffs of moher

Eventually everything went well with gods grace and the overall trip was way beyond expectation.

Audi A6 etron was extremely smooth, stable and comfortable even at 120 Km/hr speed just as anyone would expect it to be. Dashboard shows how much energy being used from battery/ICE in real-time and in reality one couldn’t find any difference from a typical ICE.

That aside, booking.com refunded the 20€ insurance part of the initial booking as we took an alternative one. I had to raise a request for the same with all the documents and refund came to card in a week. 

Final Thoughts

So overall it was amazing to experience the Europcar’s car rental service and we would perhaps return again when in need, likely via booking.com whenever possible.

Having said that all, it’s worthwhile to mention that Europcar even operates in India with chauffeur driven cars and our most popular airport transfer services on axis (they keep changing though) and Bank of Baroda uses Europcar’s eco-rent-a car service.

So here’s the takeaway,

  1. It’s better to book the service a week prior to trip date
  2. Going bit late during weekends might get you an upgrade, but risky as it might get sold out.
  3. Insurance plan can always be decided and taken while taking the car, so better not to prepay
  4. Booking.com for car rental is lot better than direct service provider websites or other aggregators

While my experience might be just out of luck, I’m unsure how many such upgrades happen in a typical day. If you’ve taken Rental Cars in Europe or US before, feel free to share your experiences in the comments below. 

Author: Siddharth

Helping Indians to choose right credit cards, pick right offers and enjoy luxury vacations for less. Day & night exploring the spiritual reality of our human existence.

22 thoughts on “My Car Rental Experience in Dublin, Ireland (Self-Drive)

  1. krishna

    That’s great, Siddharth. Could you please share your experience with an International driving license/ International driving permit and how to get one? That’s a grey area a lot of people get confused and bogged down with.

    Thanks

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      The process varies a bit based on the state government AFAIK. In Tamilnadu it’s just apply and get it sort, but have to go through a bit of process. I don’t own one as of now so couldn’t comment much.

      Reply
      1. krishna

        So, May I know, How did you manage to rent a car and Moreover able to drive in a foreign country? Given that you don’t posses an IDP yourself.

        Reply
        1. Siddharth Post author

          Looks like you’ve missed reading a line in the article. 🙂

          Reply
          1. Krishna

            My bad. Was too excited reading the article that missed the last line.

        2. NMS

          I’ve driven in the US, Ireland and Australia and in neither of these countries was I asked for an International Driving Permit (IDP). I just had my Indian license (card format) with me. As long as things are mentioned in English, they are fine with it.

          An IDP is actually just a translation of your license into different languages. Since the Indian licence is already in English, you wouldn’t need an IDP in these countries.

          Reply
          1. Krishna

            Hey! Thanks for your input. I am required to have an IDP as per International Rules. Few countries are an expectation otherwise one does need an IDP.

            I was talking about the UAE and it is mandatory to have an IDP. As there was hardly any info online, I thought to check it here.

  2. Sam

    Did you use your social media influence to get an upgrade? Never heard of any upgrade from Toyota to Audi/Benz in Europe or US. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      No influence used.

      Probably I got a glimpse of “The luck of the Irish”. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Abhi

    Indian DL is valid for one year in UK, by then you need to get UK DL if you wish to continue driving there.

    Reply
  4. Pragyan

    I drove in europe this september. Booked via rental cars. Also aquired IDP from RTO (bit of a hassle, if you are doing it on your own it will take a whole day, if license is less than 10 years old you have to appear in road test). The driving experience was excellent. Took first 10-15 minutes to get habituated in right hand driving. Main issue was not the driving side, the reverse position of wiper and turn indicator, that took some time to get used to. I also got upgraded to Audi A3 Sportback from an Peugeot 308.

    Reply
  5. Gaurav Singh

    The Irish are such lovely folks. The wife and I drove around the country in 2019 Winters for a week. We covered the entirety of the country and met such inviting and warm people, lot of interaction with locals since we stayed at AIRBNBs. We remember the trip fondly. We hired a 5 series for the week and it was very inexpensive. I reckon EUR 50 per day.

    Reply
  6. Akshat

    rentalcars.com and rentalcover.com are my go to for bookings.

    you end up saving a lot through insurance cover which is usually 5-12x from rentalcover.com which works well at least in UK and EU. US is a bit tricky with personal indemnity and other clauses.

    your upgrade must be due to taking their insurance but luxury cars are chepaer in EU hence there is availability, so upgrades are not unheard of there.

    i have seen upgrades are easier with elite statuses like Avis preferred plus ambassador with enterprise.
    Service wise hertz is not that great imo.
    I have experienced Enterprise to be best (National is the US counterpart JV partner for them),
    Avis is decent as well as is Europcar(in EU)
    National/Enterprise>Avis>Europcar>Sixt>Hertz

    I would stay away from local suppliers as they show a lower price on booking but end up taking a lot more through frivolous loss/damage claims on checkout or they would charge a bomb as insurance charges on checkin which takes away cost benefit entirely compared to above established players

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      Thanks for your valuable inputs.
      I did notice even in my booking that booking.com owns rentalcars.com, was quite surprised when I saw it first!

      “upgrade must be due to taking their insurance” – Yeah, we were thinking on same line as well, except that when we asked what made him to give us an upgrade, he said “just to make your day good”

      Reply
      1. Prash1

        I have rented cars at least 40-50 times in Europe.. And I can safely tell you that an upgrade is typically when the car segment you had booked is not available or is not ready yet (They don’t want to make the person wait). Exception of course, is if you are a loyalty member and of a significant level which commands free upgrades.

        Reply
  7. Prash

    I visited Dublin around the same time and coincidentally got the A6 from Europcar too, LOL. (but an upgrade I opted to A4, but got the A6 instead). IDP is not required to rent cars in Ireland – I didn’t have one and no issues. I use sites like ebookers.com for cheap deals. Might try concierge next time to see if they get better deals. Typically the insurance included is with an excess.

    Reply
  8. Kishore

    I drove in UK (Scotland, England and Northern Ireland) using my Indian DL which is in english. IDP was not needed. I think I did mot go with Hertz because they asked for IDP in their requirements.

    I agree that booking.com was the most convenient and economical option for booking rentals. I rented 4 cars across UK through through booking.com and got the best rates compared to direct booking.

    I found Europcar to be the best out of all the providers process wise and car wise.

    Edinburgh – Europcar – Volkswagen Golf – ~30 GBP per day – Got an upgrade to next tier.✌️Was perfect to drive around scotland!

    Machester -Sixt – Citroen C4 – ~55 GBP per day – Got an upgrade again. But I did not really want an upgrade since I had to drive very narrow roads in Lake District. Thankfully managed without any incidents!

    Penzance – Enterprise – Hyundai I10 😪 – ~50 GBP per day – No car was available, had to wait half a day to get one. Car was not in great condition and would consider as a downgrade. 👎

    Belfast – Europcar – Kia Sportage – ~25GBP per day – Got an upgrade again by 2 tiers! ✌️ Car was in great condition was fun to drive.

    Overall would say the Europcar had the best cars and was the cheapest of them all.

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      Glad to see your car rental experience across UK!
      Thank you very much for sharing.

      Reply
  9. Amitabh Nimkar

    hi , i was wondering while driving abroad , how does one get infoto the traffic rules / penalties etc .. especially first timers ..

    Reply

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