Renting a Car in Australia – Everything You Need to Know

Australia is vast and there is much you can see and do by car. If you are renting a car in Oz, there is some stuff you need to know! Driving in Australia is an experience that should be savoured. It is a fantastic way to experience some great cities and wide open spaces and fantastic natural scenery. There are many destinations that can only be experienced by car. Before you set off, here is a little you need to know about car hire in Australia.

Car Hire Options

There are some great rental car companies to choose from and you can collect your vehicle from the airport or other pick up locations. Most car hire companies have pick up locations in major cities or towns.
You will need a valid driver’s license and a credit card or debit card to hire your car.

Car Hire Companies

It can be hard to know which hire car company to choose. The following companies are major car hire outlets in Australia:
  • Budget
  • Europcar
  • Avis
  • Rent a Car
  • Thrifty
  • Hertz

Buying car hire insurance 

You can purchase standalone car hire insurance for your vehicle. Called excess cover, this will cover you against accidental damage to your car and other vehicles, property, and more. Check the terms of the insurance before signing - every policy is different.

Excess cover can be purchased to reduce the amount that you pay in case you do need to make a claim. The excess in Australia is similar to the deductible in the US.

If you are on a budget it can be tempting to forgo car insurance altogether. This can mean a very expensive holiday in the case of a collision! If you are at fault you would need to pay for the full cost of damage to the hire car and to any other vehicles and property involved in the collision. You may also need to pay medical expenses.

For peace of mind on your vacation take out car rental insurance.

Renting a Car in Australia with US License

If you are renting a car in Australia with a US license, you need to have a full driver’s license. Car rental companies generally accept English language driving licenses. If your driver’s license is in a language other than English, you need an international driving permit.

Can You Rent a Car in Australia Under 21?

You need to be at least 21, with an open license and have held your driver’s license for a minimum of 12 months to rent a car in Australia. If you are under 25 you may incur a young driver surcharge and some car companies have a maximum age restriction of 75 years.

Things to Know About Hiring a Car in Australia

Your car will be full of fuel (gas) when you pick it up. You are expected to return the vehicle full of fuel. Failure to do so means that you will be charged for fuel, and this will generally be at a much higher rate than what is payable at the bowser.

Where Do I Pick Up My Hire Car?

There are many options for car hire in Australia, and most car rental companies have depots within the major cities such as Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. You can also generally collect your car from the airport if you are flying in to Australia. It is quite straightforward to collect the keys and the car once you have passed through customs.

We highly recommend that you book in your car hire and organise your rental car insurance before you start out on your trip.

Booking in advance nearly always ensures a cheaper rate – you have more time to shop around for the best deals beforehand for a start! You are more likely to get your choice of vehicle and you spend more of your precious vacation time relaxing and exploring Australia. You will be glad you did!

Dropping off Your Vehicle

You will organise a time and date to drop off your vehicle with the car hire company. This can usually be extended if need be. You don’t need to drop off the car at the same place that you picked it up either – in most cases you can leave your car at another destination, even in another state.

GPS System

You will need a GPS system either in the car or on your phone. Check with the rental car company if you are hiring a car – they are not standard when you hire. GPS systems can cost $10 per day or more so using your phone or iPad instead can save you some dollars.

What Happens if I Get a Speeding Fine in a Hire Car in Australia?

Speed cameras are in force throughout Australia so watch your speed always! If you do get caught on camera details of the fine will be sent direct to the car hire company.

The speed limits in Australia are varied. Always keep an eye on the signs as speeds can change suddenly due to road conditions, roadworks etc. Limits in school zones are 40 kilometres per hour during school hours and in South Australian are 25 km/h. These areas are marked by signs. Cities and built up areas have a speed of 50 or 60, and major motorways are either 100 or 110 km per hour.

Requirements for Renting a Car in Australia

The tips for renting a car in Australia are that:
  • You need to be at least 21 years of age
  • You need a valid driver’s license
  • Auto insurance is required. We recommend comprehensive insurance.
  • You cannot take a rental car on ferries

Basic Road Rules for Driving in Australia

  • You drive on the left hand side of the road in Australia. This can be a little tricky if you are from the United States or any other country where driving on the right hand side is the norm. Check out Youtube for some videos and tips.
  • It is illegal to make a left hand turn on a red signal unless it is sign posted.
  • Seat belts are mandatory when driving in Australia, both in the front and the back of the car.
  • The blood alcohol limit is .05% throughout Australia. Learner and provisional drivers cannot have any alcohol in their system whilst driving.
  • Any infringement notices occurred will be sent to the car hire company.

Should I Buy or Rent a Car?

As a rule if you need a car for less than three weeks you should rent it. If you are travelling around for longer than 3 months it is more economical to buy one.

With the right car and the right insurance traveling through Australia is the experience of a lifetime. It is a trip well worth organising. With a little pre-planning you can make the most of your driving time and your holiday dollars. Relax and experience the many wonders of this great country.

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