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Finding reputable and affordable car hire in the Algarve

Hiring a car is essential for a lot of tourists visiting the Algarve. There’s plenty to see, a coastline of resorts to explore and enough golf courses to entertain Tiger Woods for the summer. However, finding affordable, trustworthy and reliable car hire can be tricky.

With so many car hire companies and websites to choose from, it can be difficult to find out which ones are the most reliable. There are a lot of stories on the web about customers getting ripped off or having a bad experience with Algarve car hire companies.

We’ve put together a complete guide to Algarve car hire that shows best and most reputable car companies to use when visiting southern Portugal. They’re also very reasonably priced and they won’t try to sell you a load of added extras that you don’t need! Put your mind at ease about collection, drop-off and prices.

Car hire at Faro Airport

Algarve car hire - Airplane at Faro Airport

Although you can rent a car from most of the Algarve’s towns and tourist resorts, the most common place to pick up and drop off is at Faro Airport. Almost all of the best Algarve car hire companies operate from here, or they’ll arrange to meet you at the airport on arrival.

Depending on the hire company you choose, you’ll either have to visit their in-airport service desk on arrival, or you’ll be met by a staff member outside the terminal building. They’ll then go through the relevant documentation and will take you to your car. This is the case for most of the operators on our list below.

There’s a small airport fee of 15 euros per car for outbound car hire from Faro Airport, usually charged as an additional cost by the company you choose.

Pro-tip: Choosing Faro Airport as your pick up and drop off destination is usually cheaper and easier than renting from a town hire office. There’s more competition, which pushes prices lower! You’ll also save the cost of taxis/transfers to your hotel.

The best Algarve car hire companies

All of the below Algarve car hire companies and websites are hand selected based on personal experience and customer reviews.

Please note: these car hire companies are applicable when flying into Faro airport, but you may find that some of them operate throughout Portugal.

Shows a BMW car in the wilderness

Zitauto

Zitauto is a small company based in Quarteira and Faro, with an office in Faro airport. It offers reasonable prices for holiday car hire, a meet and greet service and everyone we’ve spoke to has had a pleasant experience with the company. They have a variety of basic but well maintained cars that range from a Renault Clio to the Nissan Qashqai SUV. All insurance is included without the need for an excess.

Visit Zitauto’s website

Drive4fun

Drive4fun is a company that we’ve used many times. It’s just as reliable as the other Algarve car hire companies on our list, but we usually find that the cost is a little lower. Their fleet is varied, with a range of new and older model cars. Go for the smallest in class, a Fiat Panda, or a comfortable and spacious Seat Arona. Prices include full insurance and unlimited mileage.

View Drive 4 Fun’s website

Luzcar

Luzcar is a family run business based out of Lagos, that has been running for over 30 years. The company has great coverage across the Algarve coast and has good user reviews. We’ve found that prices are a little higher than other companies featured on our list, but full insurance is included (with no excess). Their fleet is also very good and covers everything from standard run-arounds to large SUV’s.

You must be 21+ years old to rent with Luzcar.

Visit Luzcar’s website

All of the above Algarve car rental recommendations are independent companies that we recommend contacting individually for a quote. Being in contact with the company themselves rather than a third-party booking site means you have accurate information and can sometimes negotiate cheaper prices.

The information we’ve stated above is correct at the time of writing and you should read individual car hire website policies and insurance information first, before booking.

What insurance do I need when hiring a car in the Algarve?

Algarve car hire - Colourful street in Portugal

The majority of the Algarve car hire companies on our list have fully comprehensive insurance with no excess. This is not always the case, however; some companies provide basic insurance cover with an excess amount, which you’ll have to pay if you get into an accident. Therefore, check the policy details before buying. If you do have to pay an excess in the event of an accident, we recommend buying separate car hire excess cover.

It’s cheap and easy to buy through CarHireExcess.co.uk.

Algarve car hire companies that you should probably avoid

Based on user reviews and feedback from forums such as Tripadvisor, it’s a safe bet to avoid the following Algarve car hire companies. Whilst some people have perfectly fine experiences with these companies and you might too, there’s a high portion of negative reviews and they’re best avoided, in favour of the above companies, where possible.

You’re less likely to get ripped off or have issues that will ruin your holiday if you stick to Algarve car rental options with great reviews.

You’ll notice that many of the bad reviewed companies are popular international brands that you’ll find in most other airports throughout Europe. Just because a franchise uses a global brand name, they’re not necessarily as good as another branch of the same company elswhere, so be wary.

  • Europcar
  • Yes Car Hire
  • Budget
  • Thrifty

How cheap is Algarve car hire?

Algarve car rental - Old car on a narrow street

Compared to other European destinations such as the UK, Germany, Switzerland and Italy, car hire in the Algarve is quite affordable. Prices vary with seasonality, so expect to pay almost double during the peak summer seasons of July and August, compared to out-of-season months, March and April.

Hire prices for a small car such as a Renault Clio start at around 80 euros per week, up to 200 a week in the summer months. A medium-sized SUV can cost anywhere from 120 euros per week to upwards of 250. Rates vary a lot between car hire companies and dates so be sure to shop around for the best prices.

Hiring a car at Faro Airport and dropping it off somewhere else

If you’re planning a multi-stop itinerary around Portugal and want to pick up and drop off your car rental in different locations, it’s important to choose a car hire company that can facilitate this. Local companies might not offer this service so we recommend choosing a company that has offices throughout Portugal. If you’re planning on picking up your car at Faro Airport but dropping it off in Lisbon for example, Hertz is a good company to use. Most car hire companies will charge a ‘one-way fee’ for drop off in a different location.

Our top tips for Algarve car hire

Algarve car hire - Shows a beach in Lagos
  • Always read the terms and conditions to see what’s included, before booking your car hire. You’ll find these on the booking website. Be aware of the mileage included, how many drivers are included, sat nav, added fees, etc.
  • Check what insurance coverage is included. If an excess is payable, purchase separate excess insurance.
  • Make sure you take note of the age restrictions of the Algarve car hire company you choose. Some hire companies have a minimum hire age of 21, or even 25 in some cases.
  • Compare quotes from the above recommendations to get the best price for your rental. The direct website is usually the cheapest, but be sure to shop around on comparison engines such as Skyscanner just to be sure.
  • Have a look at the car and take pictures of any faults/marks/damage before driving off.
  • Save money on expensive GPS rentals by buying your own in the UK before leaving (eBay is perfect). Chances are, the price you pay for your own GPS beats the rental price for one week. Even more, you get to us it on your other holidays! Alternatively, use your free Google Maps app on your smartphone. Free data roaming is currently inclusive of Portugal.
  • Check the fuel policy of your car rental in advance:
    • If it’s ‘Full to Full’, it’s best to re-fill the tank to full capacity yourself on the way to returning the car, otherwise they’ll charge you extra.
    • If the policy is ‘Return empty’, simply use all the fuel you need and drop the car off at the end of the stay. You might have to pay for a tank of fuel in advance.
  • Make a note of the type of fuel the car takes –Unleaded Petrol or Diesel.
  • Book online as far in advance as possible for the best prices, particularly if you’re travelling during July or August.

Now we’ve recommended the best Algarve car hire companies, all that’s left to do now is book and plan a holiday to remember! Explore the Algarve at your leisure, knowing that you can stop off and visit amazing beaches, towns and tourist attractions from the comfort of your own car. It’s a much easier way of getting around compared to the local buses, and way cheaper than taxis.

Be sure to let us know if you have any questions, in the comments section below. 😊

By Ricky MARSHALL

Author bio:

An adventurer at heart that loves anything outdoors. Beaches, mountains and amazing scenery is everything I love about travel! I also enjoy home comforts and need a nice place to relax and re-charge after every trip.

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