5 things you need to know when hiring a car in #Malta and #Gozo
Updated: Apr 11
Firstly, I must ask, has anyone driven in #Malta? 😬
Secondly, does anyone recall the lyrics to the satirical tune the “Maltese Calypso”?
Please allow me to refresh your memory as to one of the verses,
🎶 Now the Maltese people are very nice,
You hire a car, you better think twice.
Now the Maltese people are very nice,
You hire a car, you better think twice.
I hired one the first day that I'm here
With no brakes, no clutch, and ……. no gear.
I went around to get my money back,
But the man says, don't worry 'cause they're all like that 🎶
If I think back to some of the cars we’ve hired over the years 🙈 oh my goodness 😆
Let’s just say driving in #Malta is not for the faint hearted.
Malta is a tiny #island with a lot of cars and a whole lot of traffic! The roads are often akin to the Wacky Races, and the term “he who dares wins” pretty much describes most journeys.
On #Gozo the roads are of course a little sleepier.
Having said that, if you do choose to hire a car you will have an absolute ball as "fortune truly does favour the #brave" 😃
Malta and Gozo are islands which necessitate exploration in order to fully appreciate their breath-taking #beauty.
Even if your plan is to drive from A to B, I promise you, you will find so many visual #treasures en-route that you will find it impossible not to stop several times before you reach your final destination.
For me exploring is to breathe, I love the #freedom of having no set plan and jumping in the car and seeing where the road takes me. I always choose to take the roads less travelled where I can, even if they do lead to dead ends 😅 and reversing along the narrowest of lanes 🙈
It can be exceedingly daunting researching car hire, as there is so much #choice and so many things to take into consideration.
This is where I come in. I’ve popped together this #informative #blog post to take away the pain. Within it you will find all the information you need along with lots of insider hints, tips and knowledge.
So without further ado, here we go.
1 The basics!
The Maltese drive in the shade 😆 ahem, I mean the Maltese drive on the left, so just like here in the UK.
Age requirements differ by company, but most require the driver to be over the age of 25 and under the age of 70.
You’ll need a valid credit card, your passport and both parts of your driving license (which must have been held for at least 3 years) to present to the car rental desk. The credit card must be in the name of the main driver, pre-paid credit cards, American Express and debit cards are not accepted.
All road signs are in English 🙌 expect to find some #hilarious ones, the funniest one we encountered was in Rabat. Reaching a junction, we were faced with, no right turn ➡️ no left turn ⬅️ and no straight ahead ⬆️ 😆
Speed limits and odometers are in kilometres rather than miles.
Speed cameras do exist and do work so please stick to the limits even if you do find yourself being chased down by Dick Dastardly 😆
Petrol/ Diesel is roughly the same cost if a little more expensive than here in the UK. There are a multitude of filling stations available across the islands ranging from modern fill up yourself to endearingly charming old school pumps where the car is filled for you.
Manual, automatic, petrol and diesel models are all available to hire.
Unlimited mileage is included, even though the islands are small you’ll be surprised how many miles you'll clock up!
If you are collecting and dropping at Malta International Airport, the hire car parking lot is actually just outside of the terminal grounds, so you will have a little walk with your bags and trolley to reach it.
If collecting a car outside of regular rental hours an additional out of hours charge will apply.
Useful numbers which hopefully you won't need are,
Emergency services - 112
Traffic wardens - +356 21 320202
Police - +356 21 224001
2. Size of car - choose wisely!
Parking is pretty much a #nightmare, so before charging right in there, check to see if your accommodation offers parking.
I drive a big car here in the UK, but on the Maltese islands I always take the smallest car I can manage with. This obviously depends upon how many passengers I have and, if I’m collecting from the airport, how much luggage as a group we will have 🧳
Rule of thumb, the bigger the car, the more you are going to struggle with parking. A lot of parking is "on road" and as a visitor we can only park in the white coloured bays. It's common to see bumper to bumper parking and also to see cars pinned in.
The resort hotels do of course offer onsite parking for residents and there are a number of multi storey car parks available as well as parking on rough ground .
If you are hiring in #resort, and don’t have the need to carry any luggage you can opt for something even smaller.
Open top #jeeps are always an attractive option and are readily available. Whilst there’s no better feeling than having the wind flow through your hair, please do bear in mind ,
you’ll need to take all your valuables with you when you park up
and equally as important,
you'll need to take into account the searing hot sunshine ☀️ in the summer months, meaning sunscreen / cover up precautions.
In the smaller car groups don’t expect a lot of horse power! Your car is going to struggle and you’re going to spend a lot of time in 1st and 2nd gears with your foot flat to the floor.
3. Full insurance cover and security deposit excess
Of all 5 points this is THE most important!
I can’t stress enough the imperativeness of ensuring your car is fully protected.
The two major points of importance are,
The security deposit excess amount
That you have a top up insurance to insure you against the loss of that security deposit excess.
Car hire suppliers security deposit excesses can vary widely! Some are as staggeringly high as €1800!
Upon collection of your vehicle your credit card will be swiped and blocked to the value of that security deposit excess. 💳
In the event of an accident or knock you will automatically forfeit that excess amount 😱
Therefore you need a supplier offering both a low security deposit excess, and a top up insurance which in the light of an accident or knock, will protect your deposit excess.
It’s not uncommon to return to your parked vehicle to find a little bump, dent or scratch, or to have a wing mirror knocked. If you fail to take a full cover insurance policy you could find yourself severely out of pocket.
I must stress the importance of securing the lowest security deposit amount that you can. If you do have an accident or knock, this amount will be debited from your card right away. You then need to claim it back via your top up insurance and this could take as long as 6-8 weeks.
Don’t expect to collect a spotless car from your Hire Car Company. Here’s the check sheet of the car we collected in #August. You can see just how many bumps, dents and scratches it already had. Take heed, you really do need full #insurance.
It’s not uncommon to return to your parked vehicle to find a little bump, dent or scratch, or to have a wing mirror knocked. If you fail to take out the top up insurance you can kiss goodbye to your excess.
Thankfully🙏 I stumbled across my car hire #saviour in March, and I really can’t recommend this company enough.
Drumroll..........please let me introduce you to the wonderful Zest Car Rental!
With Zest you receive..........
Full Collision Damage Waiver with no excess
One free additional driver
Enhanced Cleaning is super important right now!
Before each rental, every vehicle undergoes a rigorous cleaning process. In addition to normal cleaning, disinfectant is used to clean all touch points inside and outside the vehicle, this includes but is not limited to items such as the door handles, steering wheel, gear lever, dashboard, switches, control and seats.
Zest offer the all important top up insurance for just a small additional cost (around £3 per day) plus another drumroll.............a super low security deposit excess of just €200!
Zest are my go to hire car company now whenever I need a car on the islands, for the peace of mind their policies offer and also because their pricing is just the best!
Back in August I carried out a price comparison.
Firstly I obtained a price with Zest, then I checked this against the cost with the major rental companies direct, and also against a number of local rental companies.
Zest came out tops - and also gained some bonus points. 💯
They offer a *free cancellation policy (up to 48 hours prior to collection) or an advanced cover for just an additional £3.50 which covers you right up to the time you are due to collect your car. Travel is so unpredictable right now so we really need this flexibility.
Their customer service is really amazing and is available 24/7.
Each major car rental company is represented, (some have stricter policies than others) and the search results are clear and easy to read! You can filter your results too, for example, if you would like a particular fuel or transmission type etc.
I have chosen an Avis/Budget car via Zest for my last two trips to ensue the full coverage and the super low €200 security deposit/ excess. Both hires have been completely stress free.
Reassuringly, Zest also offer a “book now pay later” policy where only a small deposit is taken at the time of booking and the balance is payable two weeks prior to collection.
Should you choose the full top up insurance, (which I can’t recommend enough) the hire car company may still offer you their own insurance products but you don’t need to take any of them, your Zest hire car voucher clearly states this. This makes for a total stress free collection of your car, you can approach the desk confident in the #knowledge you are fully covered given any eventuality.
➡BOOK NOW⬅ with total peace of mind
4. Sat Nav
You can add Sat Nav to your rental. In most cases this will be in the form of a dashboard mounted model rather than inbuilt, and it’s expensive! Think €10 per day expensive 😱 You also have the added options of child seats etc.
Either bring along your own Sat Nav, or download the #Google Maps map of Malta before you arrive and use this offline. There’s then no need to use your data and Google’s directions are absolutely spot on!
5. Refuelling Options - Full/Full and Fair Fuel
Last but by no means least, how the hire car company bills you for your fuel is super important too.
Usually the car is presented to you full and you must return it full.
Alternatively your vehicle could also be provided with an amount of fuel in the tank and you need to return the vehicle with the same amount. (Each car hire companies fuel policy is clear to see when checking car availability options with Zest.)
Failure to return the vehicle with the correct amount of fuel will result in additional charges for missing fuel.
Please, please please ensure you fill the car as near to your drop off point as you can, and fill it until you can’t fill it anymore.
The refuelling fee hire companies charge is savage in comparison to the pump price (“due to refuelling logistics”) and an admin fee will usually be payable too.
Be aware you will be charged even if the dial is the slightest bit below where it should be.
Huge tip when returning your vehicle!
You may not be met by the supplier when you return your car and instead you may be required to drop the keys in a key drop box.
Should this be the case,
do take a photo of the petrol gauge
at the same time take a photo of the odometer showing the mileage
and as an added safeguard take photos or a video of the body of the car, windows and tyres.
This way there can be no element of doubt as to the condition you have returned the car.
If you are returning your car to Malta airport on a Sunday, beware when using the filling station at the airport. The manned pay station is closed.
In its place, you will need to use a payment machine, which you must feed BEFORE taking your fuel and the only payment type accepted is cash!
We found this an absolute nightmare as you just aren’t sure how much fuel you will need to prepay to fill the tank!
To help, as a guide, the cost to fill our half full Ford Focus with unleaded petrol was €40.
The machine takes cash in the denominations of €5, €10 and €20 notes.
On the day we visited the machine had a fault and took our money without recording a sale which left us €20 out of pocket. Thankfully we were able to liaise with the garage by email and they did refund us via PayPal eventually.
My lovelies, I really do hope that this blog helps you when booking your next car hire on the islands. I really can’t wait to be able to start planning my next Maltese islands adventure 😊
Next up I will be covering travel insurance - right now we all need a policy which covers us for #Covid19 and offers a non essential travel cover.
Until then, as we start another month of hard #lockdown, I’m thinking of you all, please stay safe and keep well!
If you haven’t already followed Mimosa Mermaid on Instagram, please do.
Take care, and much love