Car hire in Scotland
Renting a car is one of the best ways to see Scotland, giving yourself the freedom to go where you want, when you want.
All of Scotland’s major airports have on-site car hire options, with most of the main rental companies represented. Hiring a car is often the best way to get to your hotel from the airport, particularly if you are staying in a rural location.
Having a car at your disposal means you aren’t tied to public transport, and can conveniently travel to wherever you choose, whether it’s on or off the beaten track.
It’s also possible to hire a car on the Northern Isles of Orkney and Shetland, meaning that you can fly in to the islands and then explore them by car.
Below are links that will allow you to view car hire locations in Scotland by towns and cities, or if you are unsure of your exact destination, by more general areas.
Alternatively, you can use the map below to find the best car hire location for you.
Car hire by city and town
Top tips when hiring a car
1. Book in advance online if possible
It is usually cheaper to book your car hire online in advance of your date of travel than if you just arrive at a car hire location and hire a car.
The big holiday booking engines such as Expedia also offer car hire.
However it is often cheaper to go to the car hire brands own websites, as they sometimes have special offers and deals when booking directly with them.
2. Check for discount codes and cash back
Many of the major car hire brands run promotions from time to time which could save you money on your booking, so check our offers section. Also try Googling car hire brands followed by combinations of "voucher", "code", "discount", "offer", etc. For example "Hertz voucher code", "Avis offer", "National Car Rental discount code", and so on.
3. Join the loyalty programmes
It is worth joining these schemes and collecting points towards further rentals, and some also offer free rental days or upgrades.
4. Sign up to the mailing list and follow on social media
Often the best way to find out about discounts, voucher codes, special offers and promotions is via the car hire brands themselves.
Sign up to their mailing lists and newsletters, and if they have a Facebook or Twitter page then "Like" or "Follow" them to ensure your best chance of getting a good deal.
5. Arrange your own insurance
You will inevitably be asked if you want to take out insurance. When you hire a car in the UK you are automatically covered by the company's basic insurance policy, but this usually includes a high excess charge.
So, for example, if you had an accident that resulted in damage to the car you would have to contribute a large sum (the excess) to the repairs. This excess can be several hundred pounds.
The car hire companies have extra insurance policies which reduce the amount of the excess, for example Hertz's SuperCover and Avis' Complete Protection Package. But these can cost around £20 a day ($30 / €25), so on a long rental it can become quite expensive.
A much better option is to arrange separate car hire insurance in advance, and there are several companies which specialise in this including:
Also, check with your credit card provider, as some credit cards include car hire insurance.
6. Take your own GPS if you have one
If you have your own GPS unit, take it with you. Car hire companies charge per day for navigation systems, and again, the price soon adds up.
Another option is to use a smartphone navigation app such as the free Navmii.
Alternatively, do it the old-fashioned way and buy a road atlas!
7. Always fill the car with fuel yourself before returning
Car hire companies will usually give you two fuel options. One is that you bring the car back empty, the other is that you bring the car back full.
They will perhaps say that bringing it back empty is more convenient for you, as you don't have to worry about finding a petrol station.
However bringing the car back full of fuel is always cheaper, as they charge considerably more than the actual cost of petrol or diesel for this service.
8. Take a credit card, driving licence and ID to the car hire location
Many of the car hire companies will only accept a booking made with a credit card, so a debit card or cash isn't usually acceptable. The reason for this is that a temporary deposit is charged to your credit card for the duration of your rental.
Even if you have booked your car hire online in advance, a credit card is often still required to secure the deposit. Without a credit card you wouldn't be able to drive the car away, so make sure you have a credit card with you!
Obviously you will need your driving licence! Some other form of photo ID is sometimes also required.
9. Generate a DVLA "check code" (UK drivers only)
The DVLA now requires UK drivers hiring cars to generate a "check code" in advance which allows the hire company to check your licence for endorsements.
It is important to do this in advance to avoid delays.