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My Experience with renting a car in Germany
Driving can give you a lot of freedom. In a country like Germany, where the roads are fantastic and there are plenty of holiday destinations at driving distance, possessing a driving license can open many opportunities and give you many beautiful experiences. Read my article about why you should get a driving License in Germany and the steps to get a driving license in Germany if you still need to get a license.
In this article, I am sharing my experience with car renting in my city- Darmstadt, Germany.
This article may be useful for people who are considering car rental and subscription in Germany.
As soon as I got my driving license, I was excited to hit the road. We considered two options – buying a new/used car and renting a car as and when we needed it. Since I had little experience with driving in Germany ( only through my practical lessons in the presence of the instructor), we decided that we could start by renting a car. This had some advantages:
- I could immediately start driving without having to wait.
- We wouldn’t have to worry about additional expenditures on a permanent car park, insurance and of course the cost of a new car.
- To start with, we wouldn’t even have to worry about fuelling, checking tyre pressure, regular services etc.
- Renting would also help us understand our usage and help us decide whether in future we need to buy a car or continue with renting
Overall, renting a car in the initial stages of driving on German roads and getting used to it seemed much easier.
In this article, I shall write about two car rental services in Germany – Book n Drive and SIXT. There are plenty of other options too, but I have personal experience with these two so I shall share that with my readers:
After doing some research, we concluded that we could use the services of Book n Drive. We had seen plenty of book-n-drive cars in our neighbourhood. Many vehicles in the area meant ease of access. This played an essential role in shortlisting Book-n-drive. This was followed by checking reviews on the internet, checking with friends etc.
After everything seemed ok, we went with the following procedure:
- We registered with them using this Link. It required entering details such as name, address etc.
- The second step is Freischalten, a verification process after which you receive an access card. This can be done online OR at a location mentioned.
- Download the Book n Drive app. On the app, you can see the location of all the cars in your vicinity. You can book the car using the app. You can use the card to unlock the car and lock it after usage.
Here are some of the advantages of Book-n-Drive, as per my experience:
- There were many cars in my vicinity, so the choice was plenty. On the weekend/during the holiday season, even if I didn’t find one of my choices, I surely found another one that served the purpose. So the basic need for a car was fulfilled when I needed it.
- I always found the car with a tank full, good air pressure in the tyres etc., so I didn’t get into any problems.
- Cars were generally in good condition. If there was any damage to the vehicle that I noticed, I took photos/videos and reported it before I started my drive. The process was simple and uncomplicated.
- I could do it on the app if I wanted to extend the time.
- The car can be booked for longer drives and out of Germany travel too ( which includes most of the Western European countries).
Here are some of the disadvantages:
- You may or may not always get a car of your choice. During high demand, if you don’t plan well in advance, you may have to settle for a car you don’t prefer.
- Sometimes, if someone had used the car just before you did, you may find food and other stuff in the car, which can be annoying.
- Sometimes, there were foreign smells in the car, which caused discomfort.
- If you have booked for a specific duration but later want to extend it, you can do so, but it is subject to the car’s availability. Let’s say someone else has booked the car immediately after you; then, you can’t extend and are obliged to bring the car back.
- When the usage is high, book-n-drive is expensive. For example, if you use the car every day, and let’s say, it is parked for a large part of the day, it can become expensive because you pay a base price+ fuel price+ price for the time duration for which you kept the car.
- On a bad weather day or when you are in a rush, you may have to walk 200-300 mts to get your car ( For example, if the car near your home is unavailable), leave it there after usage and walk back home. This can be an inconvenience.
- It can’t be used for driving to some Eastern European Countries. Check their official website for more details.
Here are my tips regarding Book n Drive:
- Check the nearest Book n Drive car parking spot near your residence. Also, see how many cars are typically parked there. This would play an important role in deciding whether you should go ahead with Book n Drive because it will help you gauge how easily you can get the car when you need it.
- Check 2-3 more parking spots in your vicinity as well, and so the same exercise that you did earlier because there is a chance that you may not get the car of your choice in the parking place near you and may have to go to the other one.
- Once you have decided to go ahead with it, have completed the process and are ready to take the car, always inspect it before using it. If there are any damages, make a note, take photos/videos and report the matter before starting to use the car.
- For long trips, plan ahead—book in advance.
Here is the link to the official website for Book-n-Drive.
SIXT has both renting and subscription offers. Since my experience is in Darmstadt city, I observed that, unlike Book n Drive, SIXT rented cars are not as readily available. You cannot make a sudden plan and expect a SIX car to be available. Book-n-Drive is better for your everyday needs, especially when there is a sudden plan, and you need a car. You need to plan in advance to use SIXT car rental in Darmstadt, Germany.
Here is the link to book a rental car from SIXT.
However, in Darmstadt, SIXT works well if you want to use the subscription model. It has quite a few advantages:
The advantages of using the SIXT subscription model over the rental model are:
- You subscribe for a month/6months/1 year; you possess the car for the entire period. Therefore, you have a car of choice, always available whenever you want it. It is like your own car.
- Irrespective of your usage, the amount that you pay for the car is fixed. You need not pay extra if you drive less than 500 km per month. Anything more there is a cost. But if you have unused kilometres in a particular month ( which you can check with the app), you can carry them forward to the next month. Therefore, let’s say on a month when there are no holidays, and your usage is minimal, you save kilometres. When you plan a long drive the next month, you can use the kilometres of the current month + the accumulated kilometres of the previous month.
- You can change your kilometre usage plan anytime on the app. It is pretty flexible.
There are some advantages of a SIXT car subscription over buying a car:
- No car loan. No substantial down payment. So, you only pay every month but never pay a large chunk of money.
- You don’t have to worry about extra expenditures associated with buying, such as changing winter tyres, servicing, insurance etc.
- Anytime you wish to change the car, you can do so and start a new subscription. Let’s say you are a couple and can manage with a small car; you can subscribe for a small car. Later, for example, when your extended family visits you and stays with you for a few months, you can switch to a bigger car to accommodate everyone. Later, switch back to the small car after they leave.
- This option works well if you are a car enthusiast and like experiencing new cars. Change your subscription and get a new car when bored of the old one.
- SIXT works perfectly for families who are temporarily in the city/country. You don’t have to worry about selling the car whenever you leave. All you need to do is unsubscribe.
SIXT subscription can be bought from their official website.
We had a great experience renting a car from SIXT for our nine days holiday in Croatia. I have given all the details about it in my article. You can check it out here.
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