5 things you need to know when hiring a car in Malta and Gozo
Updated: Feb 7
Hello my lovelies!
Today we are talking all things car hire! There are a lot of pitfalls when renting a car that could cost you time and money.
Today's blog post will help you to avoid them!
Malta and Gozo are islands which necessitate exploration in order to fully appreciate their breath-taking beauty.
There are so many views to be entirely captivated and enchanted by which you simply can’t reach easily by public transport.
As travel restrictions are beginning to loosen, I really can't convey enough the importance of securing a hire car as soon as possible this year.
Demand is going to be high and the shortened car rental fleets (caused by the downturn in business during the pandemic) will struggle to meet this.
Beware that booking last minute may result in elevated prices or no car being available for your chosen dates!
It can be exceedingly daunting researching car hire, as there is so much choice and so many things to take into consideration.
INSURANCE, INSURANCE, and INSURANCE.
I can't stress this last point enough. You need to be FULLY insured when driving in Malta, end of.
After many years of taking part in the Wacky Races, erm, I mean driving in Malta, I really wanted to share with you everything I've learned, often the hard way!
So without further ado, here we go.
1 The basics!
The Maltese drive in the shade 😆, 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.
You can drive on both the islands of Malta and Gozo at no additional charge.
Unlimited mileage is included, even though the islands are small you’ll be surprised how many miles you'll clock up!
If you are hiring from Malta International Airport, the hire car desks are in a separate building and your cars will be collected from designated bays in a multi storey car park. It's actually quite a walk with your luggage trolley, including a change of floors and a short walk outside. (there are plans to build an indoor walkway)
Be mindful of the arrival time of your flight as collecting a car outside of the rental locations usual rental hours will incur an additional out of hours charge.
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’re travelling as a couple, I’d recommend hiring a model like a Ford Focus, even if you have luggage the back seats drop, allowing you to carry two large suitcases and two hold all’s.
If you are collecting in resort, and therefore don’t have luggage to factor in, 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 blow 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.
I therefore always opt for a car with air con 🥵 😅 and having the security and peace of mind of a closed in boot.
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 bump, dent or scratch, or to have a wing mirror knocked. If you fail to take a full cover insurance policy you can kiss goodbye to your excess.
I must stress the importance of securing the lowest security deposit/excess amount that you can.
Don’t expect to collect a spotless car from your Hire Car Company. Here’s the check sheet of one of the cars I collected. This is why you need FULL INSURANCE COVER.
You can see just how many bumps, dents and scratches it already had. Its important that you inspect your vehicle at the time of collection and point out any dents, bumps or scratches not already noted.
So now, when I rent on the islands I only use one car rental broker,
They are an English company and they have contracts with all of the major car hire companies across the islands - best of all they offer,
Of course you will find cheaper rates from Joe Bloggs Car Rental locally, but please do consider the implications of renting locally,
Is the car regularly serviced and maintained?
Will you have 24/7 support should something go wrong?
Has it been cleaned to a Covid-19 standard?
How high is the deposit?
What level of insurance is being offered?
Trust me, I've been there, seen it, done it and worn the t-shirt when it comes to hiring a car in Malta. I've hired some absolute horrors of cars over the years, and for me it just isn't worth it.
Zest are a recommended car hire broker for Which and they also have a 5* Trustpilot rating
With Zest you receive..........
Full Collision Damage Waiver with no excess
One free additional driver
Enhanced Cleaning is still super important as there are so many touch points in a car.
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 to full cover for just a small additional cost of around £3 per day
Plus they have low security deposits - usually around €200!
Last Summer I needed a car for two weeks and carried out a lot of price comparisons.
Firstly I obtained a price with Zest, then I checked this against the cost with the major rental companies direct. I actually even included a couple of local rental companies too for a true comparison.
Zest still 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 still so unpredictable right now so having this is a godsend.
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've used Avis/Budget and Amaze Car Rental via Zest for my last two trips and both have been awesome!
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 you simply must) the hire car company may still offer you their own insurance products at collection, but just politely decline as 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 just the slightest bit off full.
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 tyres and interior.
This way there can be no element of doubt as to the condition you have returned the car.
If you are refuelling at a weekend beware as the manned pay stations will probably be closed.
In its place, you will need to use a payment machine, which you must feed with cash BEFORE taking your fuel and the only payment type accepted is cash!
Just fill little by little if you aren't sure how much you will need as there is no refund once the tank hits full.
To help, as a guide, the cost to fill our half full Ford Focus with unleaded petrol was €40.
My lovelies, I really do hope that this blog helps you when hiring a car in Malta, there really is a lot to consider.
Affilliate link, Mimosa Mermaid may receive a small commission for purchases made through links in this post. Please rest assured that I only ever recommend companies which I myself personally use and have complete and utter faith in.