Motorists who book car hire at the last minute could be paying as much as 1,400% more than those who book early, according to new research.
Comparison website TravelSupermarket reveals that booking even two weeks in advance could make a huge difference to the cost.
Researchers looked at the site’s own advance prices before the May half term for a 30-year-old booking eight days’ car hire from Saturday to Saturday (26 May-2 June) for a compact car, such as a Seat Leon, Ford Focus or Opel Astra, and compared them to the walk-up price at the airport on arrival.
Booking in advance could save you £300 or more over the half-term week. The biggest airport rip-off was at Alicante in southern Spain, with a mind-boggling mark-up of £1,401%. The pre-booked price was £13.17 for the whole eight days – only £1.65 per day – compared to the airport price of £197.63, giving you a saving of £184.46.
Similarly, motorists hiring a car in Malaga could enjoy a pre-booked price of £19.96 for the same dates versus £299.30 or 1,399% more if they book on arrival.
The website’s biggest advance booking bargains for car hire over half term were in Spain, Portugal, Greece and Cyprus, including Faro (saving £357 or a 1,055% mark-up), Barcelona (saving £184.75 or 616%) and Athens (saving £203.88 or 265%).
Prices are so low because it’s early in the season and most European schools are not on half-term break.
Emma Grimster of TravelSupermarket advises: “If you’re going away this half term or later in the summer and haven’t yet booked car hire, it is worth doing so ASAP as prices rarely go down online closer to the date, particularly in the peak summer season.”