If you are considering renting a car in Italy, we say good for you! Italy is a fantastic country but MANY people make crucial mistakes which can lead to danger or a bad experience. There is plenty of information on the web about renting a car in Italy but most of it, including a lot of this guide [just scroll down!], focuses on what you should do! But this guide is different. This is going to tell you what you should AVOID doing when renting a car in Italy.
Believe it or not, renting a car in Italy isn’t as scary or dangerous as you may think! It can be a bit crazier to drive in Italy compared to other European countries, but we promise it isn’t all that bad as long as you are prepared.
We have rented a car in Italy countless times at this point covering thousands and thousands of miles on various Italy road trips and have made countless mistakes. This [unfortunatly] has given us first-hand knowledge on what you should NOT DO when renting a car in Italy. This is NOT meant to scare you, but to prepare you so that you can have a safe and wonderful time! Italy is a stunning country full of natural wonder and driving yourself around is one of the best ways to see what Italy has to offer! Before you embark on renting a car in Italy, there are a few things you need to know to have a safe and enjoyable time in the country.
7 Big Mistakes To Avoid When Renting a Car in Italy
Mistake #1: Completely Writing Off Renting A Car In Italy
One of the biggest mistakes people make when planning their trips is completely writing off renting a car in Italy. This is a HUGE MISTAKE when because renting a car in Italy will provide you with so much freedom and planning an Italy Road Trip is a wonderful way to see the country. If you are reading this and you are on the fence about an Italy car rental, we highly recommend reconsidering!
We personally love renting a car as often as possible! From Iceland and Peru to Alaska and Ireland, we have rented cars all around the world and love the freedom they provide. We have often used public transport in Italy and while it is great, you still must stick to a schedule and the busses and trains only take you so far. We are photographers and hikers and love getting deep into the landscape and renting a car in Italy allows us to do just that.
For example, when we rented a car in Trentino in the Italian Alps/Dolomites, we spent 5-6 hours a day driving up to the tip-top of the mountains, seeing quaint villages, driving past cliff-side vineyards, finding random castle ruins and more. When we rented a car in Milan, we drove down the coast and spent days exploring small Italian seaside villages. Although there are indeed trains and buses that go to these places, a car provides us with way more freedom and it is a really fantastic way to see Italy if you are up for it.
Mistake #2: Assuming An Italy Car Rental Will Be Too Expensive
If you are afraid that renting a car in Italy will be too expensive, you are not alone! We have rented cars all around the world and many times they are beyond expensive for just a basic car. From Alaska and Ireland to Oman and Iceland, we have spent upwards of thousands of dollars on car rentals. You can book an Italy car rental for the same exact price and time frame as the countries listed above for less than half the price.
We suggest checking out AutoEurope.com to find the best and most affordable rate when renting a car in Italy. This is what we personally use and it allows you to compare rates across a variety of popular car rental websites including Hertz, Sixt, Europcar, Alamo, Dollar, Enterprise and more. This way, you can see a bunch of different prices without skipping around through a bunch of different websites.
Assuming that renting a car in Italy will be too expensive is a common mistake people make and a big reason why people avoid booking an Italy car rental. The prices of renting a car in Italy are just naturally lower than many other countries and chances are you can find a pretty good deal. Make sure to check out the larger cities such as Rome and Milan for the best deals on car rentals in Italy!
Mistake #3: Spending Too Much Money On A GPS
You are probably already investing a good deal of money on your trip so why spend even more money on renting a car in Italy if you don’t have to? Another huge mistake people make when renting a car in Italy is spending big bucks for a GPS from the car rental company and then barely using it. We have spoken with many travelers who did this and ended up not using the GPS at all. In fact, we have actually done this ourselves and the GPS stayed in a box in the back seat because we never used it at all!
Instead, we recommend utilizing your phone plan’s global roaming policy or getting an affordable Italian SIM card for your phone. If you do not have an international plan, we recommend downloading Google Maps offline. This way, you can still go everywhere you need to go without paying a cent! You can still utilize your phone as a GPS device without ever paying for a phone plan if you don’t want to or if it isn’t included. The best network for sim cards in Italy is TIM. This sim card costs around $25 for 30 days of usage and comes with 4G speeds and 15GB of data usage. This is a WONDERFUL deal and oftentimes much cheaper [and way faster!] than using your own plans international data.
Now, this mistake is based on age and will depend on who you are. If you aren’t into all the apps and downloading maps is confusing to you, maybe using a traditional GPS is worth the money for you and you should upgrade and go for it when renting a car in Italy. But for everyone else, especially those of you with phone plans like T-Mobile or Sprint that offer free global roaming, you will be able to use your GPS like normal and this will be a big waste of money when renting a car in Italy.
Mistake #4: Forgoing Insurance On Your Italy Car Rental
Okay, we will be the first to fess up that in the past we didn’t normally get car insurance. This is a HUGE MISTAKE, especially when renting a car in Italy with narrow roads and crowded highways. The fact is that sometimes things happen OR sometimes car rental companies try and screw you over by pretending like you “made a mark” on the car when you really did not. Either way, protecting yourself when renting a car in Italy is essential.
There are two main ways to do this. First and our favorite way and the one we recommend is putting the car rental on a travel credit card with insurance. IMPORTANT!!!!!! Please keep in mind that MANY credit cards DO NOT COVER car insurance in Italy. These are the 5 Credit Cards We Travel With but we recommend the Chase Sapphire Reserve when renting a car in Italy. As long as you put your Italy car rental on Chase Sapphire Reserve card, you will be covered for collision and theft when driving in Italy up to $75,000. This means if you crack your windshield or get in a fender bender you are covered. All you must do is put the car on your Chase Sapphire Reserve and decline car rental coverage offered through the agency.
We love using a travel credit card because it offers SO many benefits plus you get 3x the points on travel so essentially you are earning a free future trip when you put your Italy trip on Chase Sapphire Reserve. It is so wonderful to know we don’t have to pay any foreign transaction fees, get access to lounges, and get car insurance all covered in our credit card! We know that each and every time we rent a car in Italy or any other country, we will be covered and this is huge peace of mind. Remember that MANY travel credit cards do NOT offer coverage in Italy so please keep this in mind when booking your Italy car rental.
We understand that not everyone renting a car in Italy wants to apply for a new credit card and that is okay! There are still options for you! We highly, highly recommend buying at least basic car insurance from your car rental agency in Italy. When you are making your booking, you can do a little research and see what this covers. Pay attention to your deductible as sometimes they are as high as a few thousand dollars before the insurance kicks in!
Before we traveled with a credit card that covered car rental insurance, we would book our car insurance through Auto Europe. This way, you are booking your car rental in Italy and your Italy car insurance all in one place. This makes it a simple and easy process and cuts down on the time spent. Our one piece of advice is to please choose insurance of some kind to protect yourself when renting a car in Italy! You don’t want to be out tens of thousands in a potential situation!
Mistake #5: Assuming That All Car Rentals In Italy Will Have Automatic Transmission
This one is mainly for our fellow Americans! USA citizens, we feel you! We are used to the majority of rental cars being automatic. This is NOT the case in Italy and is a huge mistake people make when renting a car in Italy. In fact, the majority of Italy car rentals are actually manual transmission.
Many travelers, ourselves included, cannot drive manual transmission cars. If you wait until the last second, automatic transmission cars in Italy may be out of stock and you will be left high and dry. Attempting to learn a manual transmission car while driving in Italy is a HORRIBLE idea and will be very unsafe. If you aren’t well-versed in driving a manual car then you will want to avoid this when renting a car in Italy.
How can you do this? We recommend by booking your Italy car rental as early as possible before your trip. You want to ensure that there are enough rental cars with an automatic transmission that are in stock before your trip. We have tried to book while we are in Italy and since the demand is high automatic cars went for upwards of $100/day when they really should be only $15-$30/day depending on what you book. When renting a car in Italy, make sure you check the box for automatic vs manual transmission when making your booking online!
Mistake #6: Thinking That Booking Your Car Rental In Italy Instead Of Online Will Save You Money
Many people make the mistake of thinking that if you want to rent your car in Italy once you are in the country you will save money. This is not the case! Do not wait until you are in the country to book and pay for your Italy car rental. It is much cheaper to rent a car from the United States or your home country than it is to wait until you are already on the ground in Italy.
Most major rental agencies in Italy and Europe as a whole are now affiliated with big USA car rental agencies such as Hertz, Enterprise, Sixt and more. As a result, going directly to a car rental agency in Italy does not exactly mean you are going to get a better deal. Plus, waiting until the last minute will mean limited options and rates when renting a car in Italy.
Like booking airfare, you should shop around when looking for the best deal on an Italy car rental. Car rental rates and fees change all the time and you want to make sure you are getting the best bang for your buck. The best way to ensure you are getting the best deal is to research the going rate at a variety of major car rental companies using sites such as Auto Europe.
Once you research and find the best price, we recommend going directly to Auto Europe because Auto Europe acts as a consolidator for car rentals in Italy and Europe as a whole. Believe it or not, Auto Europe often either meets or beats the best rate offered by any rental company if you were to go direct. We love using Auto Europe when booking our car rentals in Italy [and Ireland/Europe] so this gives you the best deals!
Mistake #7: Booking Your Italy Car Rental In A Smaller City And Overpaying
How do we know this is a big mistake people make when renting a car in Italy? Oh, just because we made this mistake ourselves….multiple times! Car rentals in Italy can be very cheap, with one exception! It is better to book them in large cities and NOT to book a one-way rental.
Examples of large cities with very affordable car rentals in Italy are Milan, Rome, and Naples. When we booked a car out of Milan, it was shockingly cheap and affordable! Even if you needed to add a one-way rental from Rome to Milan, it is still prety affordable, and by affordable, we mean around $350 for 2 weeks!
On the other hand, when we tried to book a car rental in the Dolomites, the prices were incredibly high to the tune of $300+ for just 3 days. We have seen this a lot when renting cars in Italy. The smaller the city the more expensive the car rental will be. If you are looking to rent a car in Italy, we beg you not to wait until you are in a more remote part of Italy because you will pay a higher rate for hardly any time with your vehicle.
Renting your car from a big city airport or downtown location will offer you the best rate on Italy car rentals each and every time you visit. As we said, we have made this mistake before and it is such an easy mistake to avoid. Chances are you will be flying into one of the major Italian cities so you should consider making your Italy car rental at one of these locations. You won’t regret it and will save hundreds of dollars.
We hope that by reading these mistakes, you will avoid them when renting a car in Italy. Choosing an Italy car rental for your trip will transform your vacation. You will have such an incredible time seeing Italy at your own pace and not on a tour. Renting a car in Italy truly isn’t scary or confusing if you follow these simple tips and avoid making some of these common mistakes! We are happy to answer any questions in the comments below!