Renting a Car in Iceland: What to Expect

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Renting a Car in Iceland is part of the Whose Land? Iceland Trip Report which covers the following cities:

Here is the Picture Preview.


There are two things that TPOL especially is terrible at: 1)Visas (see China Visa Disaster Again) 2)Transport. I love the strategerie of gathering points, the rush of booking, and don’t mind the actual trips. What I hate is logistics. These ‘minor’ details that I do not address invariably end up costing me a fortune yet somehow I don’t learn from my mistakes.

Enter renting a car in Iceland.

My friend had told me that renting a car was a must because taxis in Reykjavick are ridiculous and guided tours, for me, are hell on earth. Since I’m not an expert in car rentals, have a superficial understanding of credit card protection for rentals, and am lazy when it comes to things that I am not good at, I foolishly decided to try to rent a car when I arrived at KEF airport. (I’m not going to attempt to spell the name of that city.)

Of course, as it is peak season, the familiar rental car companies were sold out. One of the agents directed us to go outside of the airport, past the red hotel, where there was a curation of rental car companies to choose from.

It was 6AM and as was the case the entire time I was in Iceland, the sun was shining brightly. I went into the first rental company that I saw that was open and they looked at me like Arnold trying to buy a TurboMan doll on Christmas Day. The second guy was not as friendly. He wouldn’t quote me a price. He wouldn’t suggest another rental company. He wouldn’t even tell me the logistics of returning a car to a different location if his company had one available. “It depends on the day, it depends on the color, how can I make a speculation about price if we don’t have one available?”

When Michael Jeries went to the third company, the quickly showed him the door citing no available cars. I immediately pounced on their fabrication of the truth and pulled up a list of available cars which could be booked via Expedia. It was only after showing them the availability (not an actual reservation) that they reluctantly admitted that they had cars for rent. The fun continued as the price Expedia showed and the price I was quoted was $100 more. Exhausted and delirious, I agreed to pay whatever was asked and figured I would deal with Expedia later (a call I have yet to make). The antics didn’t stop there. The representative said that I had to buy the super-duper premium insurance if I wanted to be covered through and through as he didn’t know if Expedia covered something like a crack in the windshield. I asked him how much that was and it was another $100. I politely declined and took out my Chase British Airways card (luckily that min spend is done), a card that has some level of protection for car rentals. Since I declined the car rental company’s insurance, I was charged 1500 euros which he said could take a couple of weeks to return should there be an issue with the car.

Then he tried to sell me navigation. Then he tried to sell me the whole tank of gas. Then he tried to sell me life insurance and then he finally let me go. (All are true minus the last).

Feeling robbed, duped, and dumb, we set off from KEF to Reykjavik with only the bright sun and signs with too many consonants as our guide to the hotel.

 

renting a car in iceland
Chevy Spark!
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IS!
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0-100 real quick, real quick
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Michael sad to give up his ride

For those interested, the name of the car rental company was Sixt and the price of a two-day rental with a drop off in the city was $228. We managed to return the car with no damage and I already had my deposit returned.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Holy cow…. a 2-day rental for $228? I just pre-booked a 9-day rental with Sixt (city location) for $330. Not looking forward to being shaken down by the agent though.

  2. The extra insurance to cover sand and gravel damage was probably a good idea. On TripAdvisor, you can find lots of horror stories from people who didn’t get it and then had to pay a lot of money. When I was in Iceland last month, the CSR at Avis told me that he’d had to deal with four of those in just the last month.

    • That’s only necessary if you are driving to the south. I’ll get into that when I write about our tour bus from hell to the Glacier Lagoon. Otherwise the elements are not something to worry about.

      • Oh, I didn’t realize that you took a tour bus to Jokusarlon. Yeah, if you’re only driving the Golden Circle, then you don’t need the sand and gravel insurance. We were there nine days and drove around the Ring Road, so I think I made the right decision in getting it.

        • Yeah i agree with that. I hated the tour bus but there’s no way with our hectic schedule anyone would’ve been in sound mind to drive to and from Jokusarlon.

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