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Super saver cars -- half the price for twice the headache???

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Super saver cars -- half the price for twice the headache???

First, thanks to everyone for all the great advice and insights you've shared so far. Our trip to NZ is just a few months away and I'm realizing I need to get the car rental thing figured out.

The plan is to pick up the car in Picton (preferably at the ferry) at the end of May and return it in Dunedin, 12 days later. That leaves Apex out as an option, but Ace, Jucy, Avis, Thrify, Hertz will work (and perhaps others). Ace and some of the others have "super saver" as a car category, for their "well traveled cars." They are considerably cheaper -- I"m less concerned with looks (I drive a 2002 Cavalier that has 150 K miles) than I am with having a car that will handle well and have sufficient power to get us over the hills and through the woods from one end of the island to the other.

I'm also a bit confused about all the waivers, and extra insurance, and could really use some advice.

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1. Re: Super saver cars -- half the price for twice the headache???


The only car rental companies i have experience of in NZ are Hertz and Apex. Both were excellent. I'm sure that you will pay a premium to pick up a vehicle in one location and drop off in another.

The forums seem to be full of posters complaining about poor service and substandard cars provided by those looking for a bargin rental. I guess with most things in life you generally get what you pay for.

Waivers and excess insurance are to reduce the amount of money you have to pay if you are unfortunate enough to be in an accident.


2. Re: Super saver cars -- half the price for twice the headache???

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Wellington, NZ
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3. Re: Super saver cars -- half the price for twice the headache???

I used Ace last year. I didn't have any problems, and their online chat made making changes a breeze. I didn't use one of their super savers, but I've seen them on the road. They may not be pretty and you should expect a fair amount of wear and tear. But they should be mechanically sound.

Auckland, New...
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4. Re: Super saver cars -- half the price for twice the headache???

I have used various budget type rental car companies in Queenstown and Napier without problems. The amount I have saved has increased my holiday spending budget. Family visiting form elsewhere always get the older rentals through small companies At Auckland airport and they have never had issues.

Edited: 28 March 2013, 02:55
Wellington, New...
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5. Re: Super saver cars -- half the price for twice the headache???

The companies listed by the OP are all well established car rental companies often used by TA members. Some of the options offered are for older cars with higher mileages. These generally offer good value if you are not concerned about using a rental car that has seen better days. This style of vehicle is geared towards the more budget conscious traveller. All vehicles rented in NZ come with a fully comprehensive insurance policy. What differs is the amount of excess one has to pay in event that the insurance policy is invoked. In most cases this excess is in the vicinity of $NZ1500 but can vary from company to company. This excess can be reduced to zero by payment of an extra premium generally in the vicinity of $NZ15 per day. The excess and extra premiums are generally not predicated by the standard of vehicle one hires but set unilaterally by the company. The companies listed in Post #1 generally keep all their fleets properly maintained and have offices around the country that should a problem arise they should be in a position to arrange suitable and prompt repairs. One should always bear in mind that cars are mechanical beasts and as they age are more prone to wearing out and breakdown. For the sake of savings up front some inconvenience maybe experienced downstream, that's one of the risks one takes.

There are generally 3 ways a deposit is handled with car rental companies in NZ.

1. A swipe of one's credit card is taken and noted in case some event occurs that warrants a claim on the credit card

2. A hold is put on the credit card until completion of the contract - This means that although no charge is made against the card the monies are frozen thereby reducing the credit balance on the card.

3. The card is charged, monies deducted and refunded at the end of the hire. This has international currency fluctuations implications, and loss of monies for a period of time. It is not uncommon for refunds to take up to a month after the end of a hire to be refunded.

Depending upon the company the above three methods are the most commonly used.

Method 1 is not really an issue, Method 2 can be inconvenient if not aware of the credit limit reduction and Method 3 can create financial shortfalls especially if monies are tight for up to a month.

It is advisable to check with the car rental company which approach they adopt.

It is possible to avoid paying the addition per diem premium by taking out travel insurance that will cover the cost of any excess. It should be noted however that the car rental company is not concerned about 3rd party insurance options and they will deduct any excess and the hirer claims it back via the travel insurance company. Any payment by the travel insurance company is generally paid out in the currency of the country in which it is taken out. ie if the policy is USA generated it will be paid out in US dollars.

Hope that helps

Christchurch, New...
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6. Re: Super saver cars -- half the price for twice the headache???

I have used Jucy's "el cheapo" model (a Nissan Sunny) and had no problems except for the signage on the door!! (some ribbing from friends).

Bean is very experienced with rental cars and his advice is worth noting.

Dunedin, New Zealand
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7. Re: Super saver cars -- half the price for twice the headache???

I for one reason or another have driven a couple of thousand kilometres in Ace Nissan Sunnys, and they're up to the task of getting you around (a common trip is from Tauranga through the Kaimais to National Park). Ace is pretty straight forward with their insurance: I figure I can self insure for a $1500 excess, so don't take any insurance from them - they do take a credit card hold for that, so you have to have the spare capacity on your card to have $1500 tied up. If you wanted an upgrade, they've brought in a bunch of the Nissan Tiida's and I've driven from Dunedin to Picton in them with no problems. They only have a wee rear window sticker so their cars are pretty innocuous. I generally find far better uses for my money than going to the multinationals and taking a new car for a significant period (although it can be fun for a weekend).

To add one qualification to Bean's point about travel insurance: some of their excess reduction schemes depend upon you buying whatever insurance the car rental place will sell you: a policy like that is pretty much useless so check the wording on your travel insurance policy before relying on it.

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8. Re: Super saver cars -- half the price for twice the headache???

I'm looking at car rental options as well. I've noticed (sometimes it's an obviously stated policy, and other times I have to dig for the info on their website) that tyres and windscreens may or may not be covered.

Maleny, Australia
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9. Re: Super saver cars -- half the price for twice the headache???

Just to add my 2 cents worth, I have had good service and reliable cars from Omega, on both islands over the last few years, maybe 4 times.

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10. Re: Super saver cars -- half the price for twice the headache???

Thanks everyone for the great info, especially to Bean for explaining the excess and various ways that works with the credit card. We can easily handle the capacity on the card. So is it the case that the excess is invoked for any damage to the car, even if it isn't your fault?

I think ACE is the way we will go, given the pick-up drop off contraints, when we do our four days in Northland, we can use APEX. The differential between the supersaver and Nissan Tiida is pretty small, so we might just go with the newer car, because a 1 day delay at various points along the way could have significant impact -- I definitely don't want to miss the boat at Doubtful Sound ;-)

Thanks again!