What is the excess in a car hire?
The total amount of the excess can go from a few hundred to thousands of euros, depending on the car hire company. Most companies block this money on your credit card when signing the hiring agreement.
The excess is the maximum amount you will have to pay in case of accident, theft ...
When you return the car, the company checks that there is no damage and the vehicle is in the same condition as it was delivered to you. If everything is correct, they will not charge you anything. Otherwise, the company will charge you the corresponding portion of the amount of the excess, but no more than that. The excess is the maximum amount that you will have to pay in case of damage to the vehicle, and depends on the insurance (coverage) you have contracted.
The car hire insurance reduces the amount you have to pay in case of problems, but there are certain limitations: there are events that are not covered. In these cases, as the excess is not valid, the customer will have to pay the full amount of the repair. Some of these limitations are common to all car rental companies, but others are specific to each company.
As a general rule, no insurance covers repairs in case the accident or damage was caused by negligence of the driver, for example, drunk driving, driving in the opposite direction, misuse of the gearbox in manual vehicles... In these cases, the excess has no validity and the client will have to bear all expenses.
The amount of the excess varies according to the car rental company, the country where the car is hired and the category of the car.
These are the coverage exclusions that have the main car hire companies in Spain
Enterprise and Alamo
Your basic insurance has associated a high excess. By contracting your premium insurance, the excess is reduced to zero, so you will not have to pay any damages, except those excluded from the coverages. None of them covers damage to tires, optional extras, roofs or underboy of the car.
Europcar and Keddy
Its basic insurance has a high excess, excluding damages to windshields, windows and tires. By contracting your premium insurance, the excess is reduced to zero euros and damages to windshields, windows and tires are included in the coverage.
Avis and Hertz
None of their insurance policies covers the vehicle's accessories. When hiring the premium insurance, the excess is reduced to zero.
Your basic insurance does not cover damage to tires, wheels, mirrors, windows, locks, antenna and battery. However, it is all included in your premium insurance, which also eliminates the excess.
Premium insurance eliminates the excess, but you have to take out special insurance to cover damages to wheels and windows.
The excess is NOT necessarily a cash deposit, not a block on the credit card, but simply a clause in the contract that establishes a monetary limit of liability in case of damage to the vehicle.
While car hire companies usually ask for a sum of money as a deposit - which remains frozen in the account and unfrozen if the vehicle is returned under in same conditions - the excess does not have to imply a payment or a block in the Customer credit card, and it is only paid in case of accident.
Whan can I do if I want to avoid the card block on my credit card?
Companies can apply two different types of card blocks that look the same but are not.
On the one hand is the excess and on the other the deposit or block on the credit card. A few years ago, most car rental companies retained the total amount of the excess as a blockade, but it is a practice that is no longer being done.
If you contract a premium insurance, is very likely that the retained amount reduces considerably (sometimes even reaching 0 €): for example Rhodium is one of the few companies that hiring their premium insurance leaves the blockade to 0; Firefly also makes a quite important reduction.
In addition, you will also find very few companies that will not take any deposit when picking up a car.
The deposit (or card block) and excess both hold your money, but are not the same
If you want to know more about card blocks, be sure to read this article: What a card block means when hiring a vehicle?