The southwestern part of the Iberian Peninsula is attractive for tourists – the territory is washed by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, characterized by a warm climate and charming landscapes. It defines the main peculiarity of car rental (not to be confused with carsharing) in Portugal. Long-term rental vehicle varies many times, according to the season. This nuance and other peculiarities of car rental – mileage restriction, fuel policy, payment of the car rental fee.

What is required for renting in Portugal?

A passport or other ID and a driver’s license are critical conditions. A standard driving license, Permis de conduire, will be sufficient.

License

Other requirements for the client set by car rental companies in Portugal:

1.         Age. Optimal between 25 – 75 years old. The minimum age requirement depends on the rental office and varies between 19 and 21. If the customer is younger than 25, the landlord may require a surcharge of a few euros (usually 5) per day for the “young driver”.

2.         Personalized (embossed) credit card VISA, MasterCard is needed to make (block a certain amount) a deposit for the car. Accordingly, the account must be at least 1600, less often 100 – 300 euros. As a standard, the blocked amount ranges from 1000 to 1200. Release of funds is usually carried out in 3 – 5 days after returning the car; the deadline is 30 days.

3.         Driving experience of at least one year.

It is essential to distinguish between deductible and deposit when renting a car. The warranty for the vehicle is blocked on the bank card. Excess is the maximum amount the renter will pay for repairs in case of an accident or damage to the car – scratches, broken windows, and so on. Usually, both amounts are equivalent, but it is the deposit that is blocked on the card.

How to reduce the insurance fee?

You can adjust the deposit amount and deductible through filters during the selection process. There are corresponding blocks for this purpose. An illustrative example is shown for the aggregator https://www.rentalcars.com.

Important. Reduction or absence of the deposit will affect the increase of the rent. Usually, it is twice as expensive to rent a car without the warranty than to rent a car with a blocked sum of EUR 1000 – 1200 on the card

What else needs attention when booking?

When choosing a landlord, especially in Portugal, it is recommended to pay attention to the rating by reviews. It is desirable to avoid offices with this indicator below 3. Other important criteria:

– mileage – in Portugal, several companies provide rentals under a limited kilometrage (further surcharge); it is better to choose unlimited;

– Fuel policy.

For the second criterion, it is more profitable to take the plan – “return with the same amount”. Several renters offer a full/empty scheme. In this case, you have to pay extra for the fuel you filled up beforehand at a higher price (the landlord’s price). At the car’s return, a charge (about 25 euros) for refueling is made. In this case, the remaining gasoline in the tank is not compensated. By choosing the plan “return with the same amount,” the client eliminates unnecessary payments.

Local peculiarities of rental cars

Let’s start with the significant spikes in the cost of long-term rentals depending on the season. A yearly cycle in Portugal can be divided into 4 intervals in terms of rental rates:

– July, August – peak;

– April to June – high;

– January, September, October – moderate;

– February, March, November, December – low.

To illustrate the cost changes (in euros) for 10 days rent of a car with an average cabin for 5 people:

– January – Seat Leon rental price is 344.03 euros, minimum rental of 250.83 euros (Seat Ibiza);

– February – Seat Leon rental price is 399,22 euros, minimum rental of 148,48 euros (Volkswagen Polo)

– March – Seat Leon rental price is 399,22 euros, minimum rental of 156,58 euros (Volkswagen Polo)

– April – Seat Leon rental price is 682,56 euros, minimum rental of 376,96 euros (Citroen C4 Cactus)

– May – rental price of Seat Leon is 459,83 euros, minimum rental of 408,72 euros (Peugeot 208)

– June – rental price of Seat Leon is 682,56 euros, minimum rental of 415,50 euros (Citroen C4 Cactus)

– July, August – rent price of Seat Leon is 682,56 euros, minimum rent of 560,53 euros (Seat Ibiza)

– September – Seat Leon rental price is 321,06 euros, minimum rental of 236,23 euros (Volkswagen Golf)

– October – Seat Leon rental price is 303,65 euros, minimum rental of 224,08 euros (Volkswagen Polo)

– November, December – Seat Leon rental price is 243,83 euros, minimum rental of 133,33 euros (Seat Ibiza).

Rental terms in the above example: deposit – from 300 to 1600 EUR, mileage – unlimited, fuel policy – return with the same volume.

What other nuances are essential to consider?

Upon receipt of the car, you should perform a thorough inspection with a photo or video fixation for scratches and other damages. Usually, existing defects are already highlighted in the lessor’s program.

Also, make sure that there are mats and antennas inside the car. Other features of car rental specific to Portugal:

– when renting after 11:00 p.m., there is an additional fee (about 40 euros);

– A high proportion of the rented cars have a diesel engine and a manual gearbox;

– it is forbidden to go to Gibraltar (almost all offices) and move cars by ferry (without agreement);

– Visits to neighboring countries require prior notice and the purchase of additional insurance for 20 – 90 euros (for the entire rental).

Booking a rental through aggregators is more profitable financially. The franchise is up to three times cheaper than when making out directly in the rent office.

Important. When booking a car with an aggregator, there is an item “or similar” next to the brand. This means that the renter may not give the same model but a different car of the same class.

Timely detection of traffic jams will help your smartphone functioning as a navigator. For this purpose, it is recommended to buy a Drim SIM card. The price of 100 MB of the Internet in Portugal is 1 euro. As of September 2022, the cost of gasoline per liter was 1.755 EUR, and diesel fuel – 1.896.

Toll roads

Unlike most European countries, Portugal has highways marked with an Electronic Toll sign.

A distinctive feature of Toll Roads is electronic payment. Cash and bank cards are not accepted on these roads. Payments are made only with a Via Verde transponder. The device is installed on the windshield of the car. Transponder provides automatic (without stopping and queuing) passage at payment points. You can rent Via Verde when you rent it. The cost of renting is 8 – 12 EUR per week; the deposit is 47 (the amount is simply blocked on the card, just like the deposit for the car).

Important! Thanks to the transponder, there is no risk of “accidentally” driving onto the Electronic Toll highway and getting a fine. The amount accumulated on the Via Verde toll is deducted from the bank card after returning the car.

Alternatively, in Portugal, there are standard toll roads. The scheme of driving on them:

1.         Get a ticket at the entrance.

2.         Insert the coupon into the machine at the exit.

3.         Pay in cash or by bank card.

At the time of publication of this review, the cost of travel on such routes in Portugal was about 1 euro per 10 kilometers.

Summary

Car rental in Portugal is notable for a distinct seasonal dependence, with the highest rates in July and August. In Autumn and winter, renting a car is 3 – 4 times cheaper. It is allowed to rent cars without a deposit, but at higher rates. It is compulsory to have an embossed VISA or MasterCard, a passport, and a driving license marked Permis de conduire to rent a car. The standard deposit of 1000 – 1200 euros is blocked on the card and becomes available within 3 – 5 days after the car’s return.

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