1. Home
  2. Car Hire Blog
  3. March 2018
  4. Car Hire GPS – Or Data Roaming with Google Maps?

Car Hire GPS – Or Data Roaming with Google Maps?

The last thing you need when hiring a car abroad is to get lost. Driving on the other side of the road, sat on the other side of the car, using your right hand to change gear rather than your left, there is a lot to take on board if hiring a car in Europe. Throw in road signs in a different language and no matter how good your sense of direction, getting lost is a distinct possibility. So it’s little surprise that all rental agents offer GPS (satellite navigation) as an optional extra when hiring a car and it’s equally little surprise that they charge handsomely for it.

car hire gps

Our recent study into the cost of car hire extras saw GPS’ top the list with an average price of 15EUR* per day in France, over a weeks holiday that is over 100EUR renting a GPS that might only get used to get to and from the airport. To put that into perspective, you can buy a GPS with European maps pre-loaded for around £100, making the cost of renting a GPS very questionable value for money. It is however still an often ticked box on the car hire extras list as despite the cost it’s something many of us are not willing to do without.

However, the introduction of EU law scrapping data roaming charges looks set to change all of that. Since the law came into effect in July 2017 we’ve seen a noticeable reduction in the number of GPS’ requested as an optional extra on rental cars in Europe. Many of our customers are taking full advantage of their inclusive data roaming on their mobile tariff and using Google Maps as an alternative to an expensive GPS unit. The amount of data Google maps uses can vary drastically, anything from 5mb – 30mb+ per hour depending on if you are simply navigating or plotting a route and searching for points of interest etc. You can minimise this by setting your locations and plotting your route via wifi (hotspot / villa / hotel etc) before you set off which could reduce data usage by as much as 50%. You can also download maps / routes which theoretically then use no data at all whilst on the move, however you should still check and test this and it has limited functionality.

Whilst it seems like an obvious saving, you still need to be careful as the EU law only permits the use of your inclusive data when roaming abroad, if you exceed that limit you’ll be charged the overseas connection / data usage rate, which is often far higher than you would be charged for exceeding your data allowance at home. So whilst it’s great for anyone wanting to use their data abroad, you still need to pay attention to how much data you are using as exceeding could leave you with a data roaming bill far in excess of the price of renting a GPS with your hire car.

How will Brexit affect EU Data Roaming?

A very good question and just another hurdle for the UK and EU policy makers to tackle, we would like to think that the mobile operators will honour the same EU wide data roaming policy, however this could swing the justification of GPS rental and the cost of, back in favour of the car rental agents.

Of course, this scenario only affects EU wide rentals, so if you are heading outside of the EU, renting a GPS, for example in the USA is still a cost you’ll likely need to consider. You can still download google maps to your smartphone and use ‘offline’ as you can in Europe. Or, look out for our premium car rental packages that often include additional drivers, a tank of fuel and GPS within the rental cost, this often works out significantly cheaper when packaged up rather than adding each item individually.

*GPS average price based on 7 days rental from a range of suppliers / locations across the EU.
Phil Partridge
Posted: March 22, 2018 by Phil Partridge
About the Author -

Travel writer, car rental guru, Phil has rented cars all over the world and shares his knowledge and experience on the Rhinocarhire.com Blog. Favourite country to visit: France.

Last updated: Sunday, February 4, 2024
Blog post currently doesn't have any comments.