Car Hire Rip Off – Alicante Airport


Do you feel that some car hire companies are ripping you off? I do!
I spent a few hours on-line yesterday trying to hire a car for an Easter trip to Alicante, Spain.
Even though you can find cheap car hire online, a small family car can be hired for about 120 Euros a week…it’s the extras that really gets to me.
I have three young boys (one age 7 and two age 6), most hire car firms charge extra for baby seats and booster seats, around 4 Euros a day. So one week for one booster seat is 28 Euros and for three booster seats it’s 84 Euros. Nearly as much as the car hire itself! Don’t forget these booster seat cost around £5 from some supermarkets to buy.

The ways round this? Take your own booster seat from home, but who wants to do that? Three children, suitcases, hand luggage and three booster seats is a bit too much.
Second option, find a car hire company that offers FREE baby seats and children booster seats. The first company I found for the Alicante Spain area was Javea Car Hire, but sadly they had no cars available.
The second car hire company was Lara Cars, I telephoned them in Spain, the lady spoke very good English and was very helpful. Lara Cars offered great pricing on car hire and FREE BOOSTER SEATS. So I booked with them.

Another rip off is most car hire firms charge for fuel on top of the hire charge. This is around 70 Euros for a full tank of petrol. How this works is that you pay for a full tank of fuel and bring the car back empty. But most people won’t use a full tank of fuel in a week, I never do and normally take the car back with still half a tank full (too the car companies gain). Lara Cars will let you pay for only half a tank of fuel.

Other things to watch out for, some car hire companies will charge your credit/debit card for an extra 500 euros as deposit for damages to the car unless you take out their extra insurance cover at 3 euros a day. So because most people don’t want to leave a large 500 euros deposit they are blackmailed into taking out extra insurance cover they don’t need – another con!

Another big bonus with booking a car from a smaller firm that don’t have an office in the airport terminal is that you don’t have to queue for half an hour to sort out your booking. These smaller firms will meet you at the airport, you can also pay with cash or credit card which is handy and the representative will take you to the car. A bit more personal.
How this works, book with big car hire company, arrive at airport, find their office, get in long queue and wait ages to get your car in the Spanish heat!
Book with smaller family run firm and they will meet you after your flight lands, normally the car hire representative will have a sign with your name on it, you pay them and do the paper work for insurance and they take you to the car, you drop the car off in the airport car park after – very easy!

41 thoughts on “Car Hire Rip Off – Alicante Airport

  1. Good article. My parents had the same thing last year at Alicante. They booked through easy car and the provider was called, I think, Gold cars. The problem is you don’t know who you’re getting with easycar until the last moment of booking, and even when you do, they have a clause that says you must adhere to the local booking partner’s fuel policies. Of course, Gold car don’t explain their bring it back empty policy until you get to the counter and having queued for hours, you sign off in a hurry. Gold car? Gold mine more like.

    1. yes i used gold car and ripped me off for fuel i left tank full when i dropped car off late they charged me 80 euroes for fuel saying tank was not full will never use them again have since used Lara cars and they are fantastic they are a proper car hire company i have recommended them to friends and they are all happy. STAY AWAY FROM GOLD CARS

  2. hi can u tell me how ur car hire with lara cars went as i need to hire car in june and dont want ripped off thanks paul

  3. Hi Paul,

    It all went well with Lara Cars. I was met at the airport as arranged and had no problems at all.
    Lara Cars don’t had an office / cars in the new car park (near the new terminal) so had to walk to the car in the airport old car park which was a bit far but not really a problem.
    Hope you have a nice trip!


  4. wish read your article earlier just come back from Alicante hired a car for 8 days with Record rentals( through you do Spain) totally ripped off do not touch with a barge pole.
    Cost us 138 Euros more than quoted price.This is a company that says on its web page no hidden extras.

  5. Hi Les, just read your car hire rip-off. After days of looking at diffrent car hire compay/brokers in Malaga I have crossed so many names off and I feel I would not find any honest one. Its feel like booking with Ryanair, not much truth with the prices. Have you heard of any good honest car hire company, perhaps a family own one that I can trust. Would be very glad for any help. Thanks.

  6. Hi Les,
    Great article,
    I travel to Alicante atleast 10 times a year and I am sick and tired of being ripped off by so called Spanish and British car hire companies. On my last 3 visits I have hired for 4 days at a time and have had to pay for a FULL TANK OF FUEL. Each time I have used less than HALF A TANK .
    I contacted then and asked for a refund via email, guess what, I didnt even get a reply.
    What it means is they have ripped me off for atleast 120 euros and what makes it all the more sickening is that they resell MY FUEL to some other unsuspecting customer and gain a MASSIVE PROFIT with no outlay and at my expense.
    Then there is the RIP OFF INSURANCE ,they dont tell you till you get there but unless you pay an extra 3.50 euros a day (minimum) they demand and extra 300 to 500 euros deposit held on your credit card. When you asked them they say you have to have it but if you contact the via email they will say it is volantary.My Daughter argued withe tham last time and stud Her ground, beleive it or not they backed down as She said she was not told of any extras.


  8. 12 years and approx 2 – 3 times a year i rent my car by
    LARA CARS never had a problem. Nowadays they will pick you up and take you to the 4th flour of the new parking

  9. Seen the stories about extras etc on car hire at Alicante Airport. I used to work for a car hire company at Alicante airport 10yrs ago and, other than the petrol “full-to-empty issue”, there wasn´t quite the same degree of add ons as now. I haven´t hired in recent years so take my advice with a health warning, but two family run companies that I would definitely check out first are Coys cars of Torrevieja (a great family run company) and Javea Cars (a very professionally run family company). Both seemed to me to be genuine family companies not trying to pull any tricks. Maybe that´s why they´ve been around a long time while others have come and gone(including the company I worked for).

  10. Hi Les,

    Thankyou for talking the time to put this blog up. I have just emailed the company to get a price on a car hire. I also hate using larger companies who just want to con people out of money, and make you queue for ages beforehand. Will let you know how I get on with Lara cars.
    Once again, thankyou.

  11. Glen, just wondering if you ended up using Lara for your car hire and how it went as I’m about to book with them for August? Thanks.

  12. Just stumbled across this looking for reviews on LaraCars. I hired with Advantage last year, and it was clear what was expected. Silly me though thinking that the ‘deposit’ taken off the credit card I used would go back on. Still trying to get this back now (and we hired with them last September!). Think I will email LaraCars for a quote! Thanks for the blog Les!

  13. Ha maybe! My one concern is that they do seem to be a bit ‘too good to be true’ with what you get ect, plus, I have been told today that they will take cash in the airport for security – i’m not complaining, it works out a lot easier for me as I dont have a credit card, I am just concerned that i will get ripped off again. From your past experience, are they decent cars also? I’m not bothred if it isnt top of the range, but I dont want a rust bucket!!!

  14. Hi Flis,

    I was the same as you, ‘cash on collection’ and ‘poor quality car’ but to be honest with you the car was lovely and you can trust them 100% (well you could back then).

  15. hi can you tell me what happens with the petrol with laras cars and javea cars do you pay for a full tank or is it full to full?
    thanks susan

    1. Hi Susan,

      Sorry for the late reply, I think from memory the tank was full and you return the car full also.

  16. Les.

    A very good comment on this topic. However, there are some thing I would like to point out. Whilst most companies state no hidden extra’s you must read the small print. CDW (Collision damage waiver) normally carries an excess of up-to 600 euro. This is common practice with most of the large firms. To cover this excess, they will ask you for credit card details and block 600 euro. They don’t actually take this amount of your card unless you return it with damage. Also you will find that damage to wheels, mirrors, windows including windscreen are not included in the CDW. Again this is pointed out in the small print. I have rented cars for the past 15 years in various countries (USA, SPAIN, IRELAND AND UK). To reduce this excess to zero and to cover damage not covered by the CDW. Most companies have an additional insurance package. (Goldcars call this relax insurance). I rented with Goldcars last x-mas for 3 weeks and this relax insurance cost about £75 paid at the airport on top of the the rental premium. Not a lot more for that peace of mind. However, if you feel that this additional insurance is a rip off and decide no way jose, then watch your credit card go crazy when you return the car with damage. Good luck

  17. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news with regards to LARAS CARS but I’ve tried to book with them and they have let me down and I wouldnt touch them with a bargepole!
    I emailed them for a quote, they replied, I emailed them to confirm and asked for an email from them to say it was all sorted. They emailed me so I thought it was all sorted but NO!
    Got another email from them 6 DAYS LATER saying that the car was already booked out and they could not supply it! That was it, no apology, no reason, no offer to find another car or even another hire car company. Emailled them back telling them I wasn’t impressed and why had it taken so long for them to realise thry couldnt fulfill the booking, They said they had waited to see if someone else had cancelled!

  18. Just returned from Alicante Spain RECORD CAR HIRE DO NOT USE IT we were charged 110euros for fuel and the car a Skoda Yetti takes 55 litres to fill less than 80 euros When I refused their extra excess insurance 6euro 50 per day they said they would take 700 euros from my bank card and return it when we returned the car and checked it, I ask do you actually take out the money and they said yes if you do not take the insurance we do. I found them through Travel Supermarket and once again it said no hidden extras it is a con and time they were investigated.

  19. Hi all I travel 5 times a year to alicante lara cars are easy the best by a long mile there is no rip off here what you see is what you get pity all other car company’s could not follow suit.
    Well done LARA CARS.

  20. Hi,

    I used Gold car through YouGoSpain this march and found we had to queue for 30 minutes to pick up the car. I was asked to leave a e600 deposit with my debit card which I argued but got nowhere. I was also asked for CDW insurance which, fortunately I took out in the uk by googling CDW insurance and found you can get it for £39 a YEAR compared with e3.99 a day YouDoSpain quoted so now I am covered every time I go this year. When we returned to Gold Car at the end of the holiday I, mistakenly, had filled up the tank before arriving at the airport (should have read the contract thoroughly). I was told I could not get the e60 back I had spent to fill the tank but on arriving back in the UK I received an email saying they had credited my card with the e60. Well chuffed. Therefore the whole two weeks car hire cost me e32. However, I will give Lara Cars a chance to quote next time

  21. I had booked with Avis in alicante a few years ago, when I got there my card wouldn’t work. The lady said it was ok to pay cash and leave a cash deposit of 400€ also. When returning the car back after a week, Avis now said that I owe them an extra 200€ and would not get my deposit back! After arguing for about 1/2 hour( with 2 kids crying beside me), it then came down to 100€, then 0€ etc……I finally got my 400€ deposit back. I was in shock that they just blatantly tried to rip me off and from a well established company like Avis. Absolute scum , it’s stressful enough with 2 kids in an airport not to have that going on.Every year after I have used Lara cars and I won’t be going to anyone else. They always look after you with no messing!

  22. Hello,

    If anyone else can respond to this although it has been a long time since the last comment, I will be very grateful. I am trying to rent with LaraCars but I have not received their confirmation yet. Did any of you receive a confirmation email after confirming their quotation sent via email ? what should I do ? I tried calling but apparently the number does not work. Also, I did not understand one thing. If I pay extra insurance( which i already want), would this excuse me from paying the deposit ?
    THANK YOU and hope someone replies!

  23. We travel to Spain frequently and have hired cars from many different companies, all of which had hidden extras. We are going again in September so we will give Lara a try.
    Wish us luck will report back
    Regards GillianFuller

  24. I used lara for the first time this trip to alicante on recommendation sister who uses only this company several times a year. The whole process was so much easier than any of the other companies previously used. No deposit. Clear prices, good email contact, met and escorted to car on arrival. Another good point is they don’t have stickers in window so it’s not obvious your a tourist. Highly recommended

  25. Travelling to Spain once or twice a year for decades and having been hit by a shortsighted but pleasant Norwegian a few years ago I then took out excess cover insurance since. Have rented with most companies during that time with one or 2 of them being ok. Ok that is until now as when trying to book again for Nov 2015 the daily excess cover has gone to €13.71, yes €13.71. This is for a Fiat Panda ! Worse is the level of deposit required has gone up even more. To €1000, €1500 or even asked €2000 by Drivalia. Their greed I s gonna stop people going there.

  26. We have visited Spain via Alicante airport for quite a few years and found the car hire problem has grown so much that we decided enough was enough. We now only book through Lara Cars (head office in La Marina where we stay) and have found them to be extremely helpful. The guy has always been waiting for us to take us to 4th floor in the terminal car park and the drop off is so easy as long as you don’t take the wrong side or they don’t close the entrance off which has been done.

    We don’t even bother to look for others now. The tiny cost of the hire car plus the queueing and extras has made us really loyal to Lara Cars so it is straight onto their website, send the email, meet the guy, sign the papers, pay the money by card in the back of the vehicle and off we go to start our holiday. No Stress, No Hassle.

  27. Have used Victoria cars at Alicante for more than ten years at least 3 times a year and this time was left disgusted after they wouldn’t return 300euro deposit because of a supposed scratch on the bumper yes the bumper early morning flight so no one checked the car before we left they have just recently changed website to include super relax insurance which we didn’t take so think they kept deposit because of this despite phoning and explaining there was no damage to car when we left it at depot and we were long term customers they still in my opinion ripped us off after all these years as customers also have euro car hire which cost £39 per year so didn’t need super relax asked for photographic evidence of damage but have had no reply this is a major problem in Spain but these companies keep robbing tourists year after year it’s just theft and anyone any idea how to pursue them into rerunning people’s hard earned monies perhaps local mp be interested to know if anyone has managed to g t there cash back

  28. Hi Les,

    Reading your post I know which ‘big’car rental company you mean queuing to get your car! Maybe this will help other people too.
    Had a very bad experience with Goldcar Rental. Be careful with these guys!!! These are really crooks! First they try to sell you an insurance for €270,- (two weeks rental). Than they they presented me the invoice for fuel. €108,27!!! Full thank of diesel for a VW Caddy??? It was €54,.. for the diesel plus service and taxes. Than the desk clerk said that he needed my creditcard to ‘block’ €1400 as ‘guarantee’. It will be unblocked after returning the car undamaged. ….and their is the catch! If you refuse this or you can not provide a creditcard you will not receive your rental car. But it gets worse.

    They gave me the keys and had to search for the car on the parking… Checking the car I noticed 7 deficiencies and small damages. Marked them on a sheet of paper which was signed by the company worker.
    Two weeks later I returned the car to the parking of the airport. Went to the company office for the check up of the car proving that no extra damage was made to the car. A security officer said that I had to park the car in one of the company boxes and drop the key in a metal secured box. Asking him who will check the car and sign for no-damage-receipt he said that the worker will arrive around 09:00. But have to catch a plain at 10:20. I couldn’t wait due to the airport security rules and have to get in 2 hours prior your flight.

    Two days after arriving home I noticed a deduction of €271,27 from my creditcard account from Goldcar Rental. No explanation at all…. just a deduction.

    Lucky me I rented the car true and I was full insured. They refunded the €280,- (€271,27 + extra interest). They told me that it was for some damage on the car. I didn’t damaged the car but couldn’t prove it…. neither could they because the Goldcar Rental worker was not available to counter sign the paper which I received at the start of the rental periode.
    Normally they refund you the unused fuel which is a rule on their contract. 3/8 of the thank was available when I left the car but didn’t received any money for it.
    Afterwards I noticed on my creditcard invoice the refund of €14,- by Goldcar Rental… I believe all this was due to the pressure of

    Lesson 1: rent a car on full-to-full base.
    Lesson 2: make sure you have a full insurance which is a little bit more expensive but it will save you a lot of troubles.
    Lesson 3: do the finances as much as possible in cash (ask for a receipt!)

  29. I once booked with Goldcar as they came up with a low price on a comparison website. Never again. When they came up with a charge for the petrol I pointed out that I knew the size of the tank on that car and the price of petrol in Spain (as a regular visitor) and you couldn’t fit that amount of petrol in that tank. I was then told the petrol cost included a handling charge!
    They then asked if I would like to add my wife as a driver when I said, Yes, why not. They entered her details and then told me I had to pay an extra 40 euros or thereabouts. When I pointed out that I hadn’t been told that and to remove my wife from the form I was told it was too late and I couldn’t change it. (I only managed to get her removed by refusing to give them my credit card until they did.)
    They did the try on with the ‘additional insurance’ at an eye watering daily rate but I settled for the ‘credit card hostage’ arrangement.
    I haven’t used them again but I have noted that the longest queues at Alicante airport always seem to be at the Goldcar desk. Clients delayed with interminable arguments with counter staff I assume.
    Goldcar have featured in two UK documentaries about rip-off car hire companies.

  30. I agree 100% – and it’s about time someone got to grips and stopped them – they are thieves, cheats and liars anyone else would be thrown in prison – why not them!
    My experience happened in July 2016 – hired a car from Holiday Autos and Record Go Car Rental – paid Holiday Autos in advance in full, but at the desk in the airport they wouldn’t accept my excess insurance – again purchased in UK, so agreed to take their extra cover – wanted to go quickly only had 4 full days – we did very little mileage, no damage, OK dirty ( with dust ) – agreed with their returns office the returned fuel would be refunded within 48hrs, but my wife looked at her credit card statement they had taken unauthorised withdrawal of £252, could I get any reasons – NO – wrote to all: The Press, Simon Calder, Trip Adviser, Credit Card Company and any site I could find, Anna from Holiday Autos even contacted Trip Adviser to state if I supplied all information she would sort it – did she – NO, they have your Credit Card information and consider it their right to do what they want with them – now 37 emails – 20 phone calls – unknown number of letters to any paper, news station, web sites, we are still trying so get this fraudulent money withdrawal refunded – Will keep you updated how I get on!!!!

  31. Great article! Does anyone know if Lars Cars is still operating? I’ve tried contacting them true their web form, but haven’t received any response yet.

  32. 1 recommendation, take out the cdw insurance on the UK before you go. You can buy this on line for a few Gbp, I think mine was £20 late year. Take it with you saves arguing at the pick up desk and gives extra peace of mind.

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