How to Get a Cheap Car Rental in Europe – We Did This!

Through much research, we figured out how to get a cheap car rental in Europe. While many people think that car rentals in Europe are always crazy expensive—we can reassure you, that they don’t have to be. Those who go the traditional route of renting through big names like Avis, Budget, and Hertz will surely be overpaying, so don’t do that.

If you’re planning on renting a car for at least 15 days in Europe you can save a small fortune by going through a lease buyback program. Three reputable companies offering this service are Peugeot (Poo-dʒou), Renault (Reh-new), and Citreon (See-tro-en).

Budget Tip: If your trip is too short to qualify, check out the rates at—they’re our go-to car rental comparison tool.

We purchased a brand-new car in France for only $28 per day through Auto Europe. I know it sounds too good to be true, but it’s not. We did it, and if you like to save money, you should too.

Cheap Car Rental in Europe

The company offering the best price at the time of our booking was Peugeot. We ended up purchasing a 2015, model 2008. We booked through the website <AutoEurope> which handles the administrative duties (paperwork) for Peugeot.

Here’s our contract proving the price. We ONLY paid the deposit of $622. We spoke with another couple on a short holiday who were paying $45 per day for an old used rental car! $622/22 days = $28 per day!!

We would’ve liked a smaller vehicle, but because we waited until the last minute, and it was the high season (it was the middle of July in France), the 2008 was the smallest vehicle in stock.

All vehicles are covered by a $0 deductible, fully comprehensive insurance policy!

Fully Comprehensive Insurance is Included

There is one other huge benefit to the lease buyback program. Besides renting at prices that drastically beat any of the corporate car rental companies, all vehicles are covered by a $0 deductible, fully comprehensive insurance policy!

Thank goodness they offer $0 deductible insurance with people like me behind the wheel.

Peugeot is taking a huge risk by renting a brand-new car to someone who may only be driving it for a few weeks. They want to protect their investment.

They accomplish this by offering a $0 deductible, fully comprehensive insurance with all of the lease buyback vehicles. Just like traditional car rental companies, they also offer unlimited mileage (we drove 3,000 miles), 24-hour roadside assistance, and no VAT, road taxes, or airport fees.

I really was a student driver and had only driven a stick shift for about 15 minutes prior to this rental. I always wanted to learn how and it saved us approximately $200 when compared to an automatic. Anyway, Paris was a great spot to learn stick shift [eye roll], with its roundabouts, narrow streets, and diamond-shaped intersections! I only stalled in the middle of one major intersection. Lots of honking, anger, and nasty looks. Just another day in the office. – Harry

GPS Navigation and Full Warranty Are Included

Additionally, the vehicle came with Peugeot’s in-car GPS navigation system. We couldn’t have imagined driving around France without it. Finally, these lease buyback vehicles also offer full factory warranties. So, in the case of me driving a stick shift, the transmission is under a full warranty!

Check This Out: Here’s the difference between a long-term car rental and leasing a car with AutoEurope.

You’re probably wondering why Peugeot, Renault, and Citroen offer these programs. They do this because the purchase tax on a pre-owned car is much less than on a new vehicle. By leasing new cars to tourists at low rates, Renault Peugeot, and Citroen create a supply of nearly-new, reduced-VAT cars that can be sold to European citizens and rental firms at highly competitive prices.

Win-Win Situation

The result is a win-win situation for everyone involved, including you, the foreign visitor. The only one who loses is the government because they collect less tax overall—I know, how sad.

Not traveling to France? It doesn’t matter. Auto Europe offers these leases throughout much of Europe.

This is one of the rare circumstances where leasing a vehicle is a financially smart decision.

We used our cheap car rental in Europe to complete a massive road trip throughout all of Frace. Highlights of the trip included visiting just about every wine region in France and touring some of the best World War sites.

How Do You Qualify?

  • The minimum driver age is 18 with no maximum age.
  • Drivers must reside outside the European Union.

Don’t Forget

  • You can pick up the vehicle at one location and drop it off at another.
  • Make sure to start the booking process through AutoEurope at least 3 weeks before the needed rental date. The sooner you start, the more likely you’ll be to receive the vehicle you’re requesting.
  • You will most likely receive a vehicle with very little gas/petrol in it. Plan on visiting a gas/petrol station within the first 50 miles of driving. You can, however, return the vehicle with even less gas than you originally received!
  • You’re not limited to the number of people that can drive the car. Since you technically own the car anyone in your party can drive it and will be covered by fully comprehensive insurance.

Technically Speaking These Leases Are Tax-Free. Why?

The dealer does make a small profit in selling one of these leases but their major profit comes after the vehicle is returned and they get to resell it. There is a French law that applies a considerably lower sales tax to vehicles that have been owned for a minimum number of days.

These short-term auto lease programs allow dealers to put thousands of these “gently” pre-owned vehicles (less the one I drove) on the market, thus lowering the effective cost of their vehicles. Additionally, they increase sales (which I’m sure some CEOs somewhere in France received a big fat bonus from.)

Of course, the French government likes to see French businesses selling more vehicles, and it likes to encourage tourists to visit France, so it extends a separate law to make these leases tax-free on the condition that only non-EU residents may purchase these types of leases.

Use The Links Above

If you do decide to go this route, please use the links above. We will receive a small affiliate commission once the lease has been completed, and you’ll be receiving a cheap car rental in Europe.

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Did you find this article helpful? If so, bookmark it and when you’re planning your next vacation click on any of the links below before finalizing reservations. You’ll get the best price, we’ll earn a small commission, and you’ll help support future articles.

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5 thoughts on “How to Get a Cheap Car Rental in Europe – We Did This!
  1. Interesting. Do they have this in Croatia? After our driving adventures in South Africa we may do the same in the Balkans (where bus servcie frankly sucks).

    Frank (bbqboy)

    1. I checked it out on my own – $700 for a month for the most basic automatic with pickup at Split airport. Pretty good!

      1. Frank,
        Yes, their prices are extremely competitive compared to the typical car rental agencies. The big selling point to us, especially when renting for long periods of time, is the $0 deductible fully comprehensive insurance. Renting a car for a substantial period of time can become increasingly risky. The longer you rent, the higher the probability of something bad occurring. We’ve heard the horror stories of credit cards getting charged $10-15,000 due to an accident. With the only hope of getting the problems resolved months down the road. No thanks. With these short-term leases through Auto Europe you are pretty much worry free. The vehicle is brand new. It’s covered by a warranty and you have $0 fully comprehensive insurance all built into the price. The hardest problem is booking far enough ahead of time so that the vehicle you’re requesting is available. We think the cars are available in most countries in Europe, but we know the best prices will be available to vehicles that are picked up and dropped off in France. If you ever head to France, Watch out for those expensive French toll roads!

  2. awesome job on the research. i’m DEFINITELY going to use this info in the future when visiting europe!!! thank you so much! you really are full of BS (which of course i mean “budge savviness”) p.s. where in the world did you get that sticker from??!!

    1. We printed it out at our Paris apartment. We had two of them taped to the back window. Talk about giving the French drivers a heads up!

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