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Automatic car rental in Italy: Dollar or Thrifty?

Automatic car rental in Italy: Dollar or Thrifty?

Old Jul 21st, 2014, 05:37 PM
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Automatic car rental in Italy: Dollar or Thrifty?

We are going to Rome, Italy in a few weeks and are going to rent an automatic car since we got a great price. An automatic Smart Fortwo is cheaper than manual transmission alternatives. Previous trips we had only rented manual transmission cars since automatic ones were priced much higher, but I did all the driving since my spouse doesn't know how to drive stick. This trip both my spouse and I will take turns driving for a change.

The Thrifty car is 11.70euro/day and the Dollar car is 12.00euro/day. So, they are virtually the same price. Does anyone have any insight as to which agency is better? Any insights as to differences between the two in extra driver fees, different charges for insurance, location at FCO airport, etc.

Many thanks,

misterfuss is offline  
Old Jul 21st, 2014, 05:40 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
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Um - I hope you're headed for the countryside -since a car is worse than useless IN Rome. I think you need to contct each agency and have them give you an all-in quote (we get a Hertz corporate discount so always use them- besides the fct that they always seem to have lots of cars in our target: mid sized automatics, esp with extra pick up).
nytraveler is offline  
Old Jul 21st, 2014, 05:44 PM
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I guess you aren't going to have any luggage?

elberko is offline  
Old Jul 21st, 2014, 05:48 PM
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@nytraveler, yes we are going to visit Italian hill towns. If we do end up in Rome, we will return the car and take the train in.

@elberko we will each have a 21" rollaboard and a small backpack. It should fit according to this post: http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic...ort-Italy.html
misterfuss is offline  
Old Jul 21st, 2014, 07:32 PM
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Hmmm ! I would not trust those quotes---something is wrong.

This may help:


A. Of course you should if your driving skill & confidence would allow you to drive a rental car in Vermont, Colorado or California. But, be advised of these tips:
* Avoid driving in the major cities except for picking up or dropping cars
* Have good maps—study them in advance—and have a GOOD NAVIGATOR.
* Stay in the right lane except when passing and use your rear view mirrors

A. It is best to rent your car before you leave for Europe. The best source we have found is www.autoeurope.com [888-223-5555] who is a broker for several car vendors. They will quote you prices to include the variables that are often omitted by others, such as unlimited mileage, mandatory insurance coverage with some deductibles, and VAT taxes. It is wise to compare prices and coverage with their sister company at www.kemwel.com. Autoeurope will match any comparable quote, and are famous for their customer satisfaction if problems do arise with the vendor. The best model will depend on your needs, but for best value we suggest you select a compact car with manual transmission. Automatics are available but will cost you about 30% more and may limit your model options & pick up locations.

A. Yes & no! They are certainly aggressive, but they are also more skilled than many USA drivers—both are a function of necessity. Italy is one of the most crowded countries in the world and the drivers have evolved these characteristics
* They are notorious tailgaters. If that bothers you, pull over and let them past.
* On the AUTOSTRADE they will drive fast, but will stay in the right lane except when passing and will use their blinkers when passing—YOU SHOULD TOO !
* They will often pass on 2-lane roads with traffic coming. Frankly, they expect you, and the oncoming car, to adjust to the shoulder and make 3 lanes of traffic.

1. Learn the meaning of the sign “ SENSO UNICO” and take heed [ONE WAY ].
2. Be sure to get your ticket when you enter the AUTOSTADA system & be prepared to pay the toll when you exit it [ rule of thumb—300 km=15 Euro]. You can use your credit card in the VIA lane at the toll both, or buy a debit VIACARD in advance.
3. Do NOT attempt to follow road numbers—that will frustrate you. But, do pay attention to the directional signs that point to your destination [ TO MONTALCINO]. And, be aware if that road leads eventually to a larger city [ ROMA—SIENA ETC.]
4. Unless you have a diesel car, you will want to fill the tank with benzina from the green pump. Most stations will pump gas for you and will take credit cards.

NOTE: As of 2005, an International Drivers Permit [IDP] is required in Italy.
You can obtain them from your local AAA office. You will need a valid US driver’s license, two passport photos, and $20. The photos can be taken at the AAA office.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Old Jul 21st, 2014, 08:44 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I think this is a case of incomplete disclosure.
If you plug in one week rental at Thrifty, for example, you get,

Car Class:
Smart Fortwo or similarRate:
99,00 € / week
Total Base Rate (EUR): 99,00 € (~14.14EU/day for one week rental at FCO).

But wait, what do you get further down the booking process?

APT SURCHARG (16%)29,28 €
ROAD TAX (5,00 € per day)35,00 €
VAT TAX (22%)46,70 €
THEFT PROTN COV (7,00 € per day)49,00 €
Total Estimated Mandatory Charges (EUR)159,98 €
Estimated Grand Total (EUR)258,98 €
greg is offline  
Old Jul 22nd, 2014, 06:43 AM
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A smart 'automatic' is not what you'd expect in the US... it's a semi-automatic 5 speed. There's no clutch pedal but you do have to shift.

These things are meant as city cars... if you plan on traveling any distance I'd move up a notch or 2 in car class. The base engine Smart (which is likely what rental agencies have) is pretty sluggish.

Lots of photos including the load space here:
ParisAmsterdam is offline  
Old Jul 22nd, 2014, 04:04 PM
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@greg, you are correct that there are additional charges, but this car was still cheaper than the manual transmission ones.

@ParisAmsterdam, thanks for your info too.

@bobthenavigator, thank you for your information. It is very helpful. I just got my IDP today. I checked with autoeurope.com and got a quote of double what I found for Thrifty (for all charges.)

Kemwel has a rate for a mini type car for about $30 higher for the week than the Thrifty website, but it shows that it would be for a voucher at Thrifty. The difference is that it shows a picture of a Fiat 500 or similar (also with automatic transmission.) The Thrifty website shows the Smart cars and not the Fiat 500. I wonder if since they are both "mini" cars if they are considered similar? (A 2 seater = a 4 seater?)
misterfuss is offline  
Old Jul 25th, 2014, 07:23 AM
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You do not want a smart car on the Autostrada.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Old Jul 25th, 2014, 07:31 AM
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I drove an "automatic" Smart for a test drive a while back (got a free t shirt). You press a paddle every time you want to shift (no pedal). I would not want to travel in one. I doubt 2 carry-ons and a backpack would fit. A tall person needs to keep the sunroof open. The Smart is one of those half-cars meant to fit in to half a parking spot and stay off the highway driving.
Caliban is offline  
Old Aug 7th, 2014, 04:39 PM
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We did book a 4 seater car at Kemwel (so no SmartCar) and then found a rate of $30 cheaper for the week with rentalcars.com

Since Kemwel has a price match policy, we asked them to match the quote. They did match the price and increased the size of our rental to an economy car. (Still also automatic.)
misterfuss is offline  
Old Aug 7th, 2014, 05:25 PM
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Much better and safer.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Old Aug 7th, 2014, 05:59 PM
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Have you checked on the cost for having a separate driver - typically it is per day.

Can't comment on the car - since we like driving fast cars fast - so pick a mid size or larger with extra pick up - perhaps a spiffy little Audi or something.
nytraveler is offline  
Old Aug 8th, 2014, 05:04 AM
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misterfuss. I have rented automatic Smart cars twice in Europe.
The first time in France and more recently in Italy (2011).

The suitcases you are taking would have fit perfectly in that car.
I also drove from near Siena to the Rome airport three round trips, on the Autostrada, to get my hubby to the airport and a week later to get myself there.

My travel companions all made fun of my car but I did just fine.

I will caution you on rentalcars.com, though. This year they promised a car rental through Budget and when confirmed they switched to a company that gets less than good reviews on the internet (Locauto). Same car (small Audi), same price but that company just did not sit well with me. I switched to Argus and Avis.

Good luck.
Sher is offline  
Old Oct 19th, 2014, 10:43 AM
Join Date: Sep 2014
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Can someone recommend a manual car rental company with reasonable rates for going from rome airport to sulmona and the abbruzi region? we are only 2 people with minimal luggage.
thank you!
stevendavid is offline  
Old Oct 19th, 2014, 10:53 AM
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stevendavid: Not quite sure what you mean by a 'manual car rental company'. Most rental cars from ANY agency will have a manual transmission.
janisj is offline  
Old Oct 19th, 2014, 01:12 PM
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Stevendavid, I would strongly recommend you price rentals through the two sister consolidator companies, Autoeurope and Kemwel; sometimes they offer different prices for the same vehicle at the same rental location.

Unless you have some compelling reason I would not use any one particular rental car company such as Hertz, Budget, etc. You CAN do that if you feel the prices offered by Autoeurope/Kemwel are not competitive.
Dukey1 is offline  
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