If you’re hiring a car this winter, whether for a ski holiday or other winter sports pursuit you might want to pay attention to the ‘winterisation fee’ often charged by car rental agents as this can have a significant impact on the overall price you will pay for your car hire.
Rental cars are typically provided with ‘all season’ tyres which means they are suitable for use in the majority of weather conditions, however during the winter months in the Alps where many rental cars from Geneva Airport
, Zurich Airport and other alpine region serving airports end up, it’s not only wise to have winter tyres (which the winterisation fee relates), it’s often a legal requirement (read more on winter tyres and when you need them
). A winter tyre is easily identifiable as it will have the letters M+S clearly displayed on the sidewall and a * symbol (mud and snow) and also have a deeper tread block with a zig zag pattern (to allow the tread block to move easily and find grip).
Rental agents have typically stipulated on collection this this is a mandatory additional extra and can cost up to £20 per day. It’s been a hot topic over the last few years with customers feeling aggrieved at having to pay a mandatory cost to drive the car legally on the roads that perhaps they may not have been aware of. Following feedback, here are Rhino we’ve taken a much more pro-active approach and with support of our supply partners, we now include the winterisation fee as standard with the majority of our rentals. We clearly display this at the quote stage to avoid confusion. Where we do not state the winterisation fee is included, then it is NOT and the cost of the mandatory extra will be outlined in our terms and conditions.
If you are planning to drive the car into areas where the road conditions are expected to be freezing / snow covered then it will almost certainly be cheaper to select a rental where the winterisation fee if included rather than pay the ‘per day’ rate on arrival. Of course, not all rentals from winter locations will require winter tyres, they are not legally required in France
unless the road conditions require them, so if hiring from the French side of Geneva Airport
and not venturing to the slopes or mountain roads, you’re safe to choose a car without the winterisation fee and you won’t be required to pay for it on arrival (unless it’s legally required at the time).
Whilst the rental car will be provided with winter tyres with the winterisation fee, snow chains are still an optional extra and dependant on your travel plans, could be a wise investment. It is however worth investigating the cost of snow chains (typically around £60) as renting can be expensive and you may be better off buying a set, particularly if you rent cars regularly in winter destinations. Do bear in mind the weight of them however as you’ll need to offset the cost of extra hold luggage if you exceed your weight limits.