Car rentals in Sicily: How to avoid scams?

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Are you going to Sicily for a road trip of a few days? Here is our mini instructions for renting a car in Sicily!

Sicily is the largest island in Italy and the Mediterranean Sea: an area of 25,709 km² (2.5 times the size of the Gironde), 5,032,818 inhabitants and two of the ten largest cities in Italy (Catania and Palermo). If Mount Etna, exquisite culinary specialties, incredible historical and cultural heritage, Catania’s festivals, magnificent landscapes… You rarely think of possible car rental scams. And yet, many tourists – far from being isolated cases – have the unpleasant surprise of losing a few euros at the rental company (or after returning the vehicle). Here are our tips for renting a car in Sicily: the companies to avoid, the ones to favor, driving, etc.

Renting a car in Sicily: the conditions to meet

Rent a car in Sicily

To rent a car in Sicily, you will in most cases need to be at least 21 years old, sometimes 25 years old and provide an identity document and driving licence in your name. Registering an additional driver will incur an extra charge. A credit card with sufficient funds available to cover the deductible and security deposit will also be required.

The lessor will also take the imprint of your credit card in order to be able to retain a deposit, either cashed and returned when the keys are returned, or blocked on the account during your stay. Be careful, there is a small nuance that can be expensive: while some banks often issue a “debit card”, Sicilian rental agencies often require a “credit card”. The mention is indicated on your card, make sure you bring the right kind.

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Rent a car in Sicily: compare rates

Rent a car in Sicily

As you can see, car rental scams in Sicily are legion but there are not only scams , which stem mainly out of naivety or lack of information. Please note that rental agencies will be more expensive in airports (Catania and Palermo) than in city centers or other secondary cities (Trapani, Syracuse or Messina). There are many rental agencies: Rent a car, Autonoleggio, Locauto, Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, Noleggiare, Sixt, Sicily by car, Win Rent, Target Rent, etc.

We recommend that you select your desired dates and vehicle type on an online comparison platform, such as Rentalcars, which is the reference, but note that the cheapest is not necessarily the best! Be sure to take care of the deductible and insurance because having a snag, a scratch or an accident can be very expensive if you don’t take out any insurance. Rentalcars allows you to filter the results by type of payment card when you are processed.

Also read : Airports of Sicily: Which airport to land in Sicily

Find out about car rental companies

Rent a car in Sicily

On our trip to Sicily, in summer 2018, we rented a car from a company called “Sicily by Car”, and based on our experience we really can’t recommend them. Online, this agency displayed competitive and advantageous rates. However, when we arrived, we had to pay an extra €270 on the grounds that we held a “debit card” and not a “credit card” and that we had to pay for insurance relating to the card, a device supposedly decided internally.

In addition, while our pre-booking contract stipulated a blocking of the deposit on the card, the lessor debited it: nothing serious in principle, but this can cause the ceiling on withdrawals and payments to the bank to be exceeded, and block any transaction, which can obviously be very harmful, particularly during a trip. As a result, the car cost us €636 instead of €365. However, we had rented several vehicles on the island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands (Spain) with the same card, without any inconvenience: not all rental companies are therefore scammers!

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Do an inventory of the situation

Once you have received the car keys, it is essential to take a tour of the car to check if any visual defects have not been omitted from the contract. We advise you, if it is daylight, to take pictures in order to protect yourself against the possible bad faith of the parking agents.

Choose the unlimited mileage option

It is important to check the mileage rate, because exceeding it can be very expensive, even on an island like Sicily. Choosing unlimited mileage has allowed us to travel more than 1,000 kilometers in complete serenity, without fear of overtaking and overcharging.

Check the fuel option

Rent a car in Sicily

Sometimes rental companies entrust their cars with the option “full to empty”, “full to pay on site”, “return to the same fuel level” or “take and return with full tank”. It is this last option that is the most advantageous because you only pay for what you have used up. It is also difficult to return a vehicle with the same level: either there is too much fuel or too little and the customer may lose out in both cases.

Driving tips in Sicily

Driving and renting a car in Sicily is nice, but you have to be on your guard: Sicilians’ driving is sporty and confusing. They like speed, use their horn, and seem to ignore they have turn signals. Thus it is often necessary to break or swerve at the last second at crossroads, always be careful (scooters, pedestrians, cars, buses, trucks in every direction) and check your blind spots.

Beware of the signs zona trafico limitato (limited traffic zone) in the city centers: you will incur fines of more than 100 €, which can be accumulated for every time you cross this zone. These fines could be sent to the car rental agency in Sicily, which will charge them to your credit card after your return even if you had no idea!

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