Costly Mistakes to Avoid When Renting a Car in Africa

It is always fun to drive around with your own vehicle but there are certain precautions needs to be taken before renting any car from someone.

Costly Mistakes to Avoid When Renting a Car in Africa

When it comes to exploring the vast and diverse landscapes of Africa, renting a car can be an excellent option. It offers freedom and flexibility to discover hidden gems and experience the continent at your own pace. However, there are some costly mistakes that you should avoid to ensure a smooth and stress-free car rental experience. In this article, we will discuss seven important factors to consider when renting a car in Africa.

1. Introduction

Renting a car in Africa can be an exciting adventure, but it's essential to be well-prepared and informed. By understanding the potential pitfalls and avoiding common mistakes, you can make the most of your journey while keeping costs in check.

2. Choosing the Right Rental Company

Selecting a reputable car rental company is crucial to avoid unnecessary hassles and ensure a reliable vehicle. Here are two key considerations:

2.1 Researching the Reputation

Before making a reservation, take the time to research the rental company's reputation. Read customer reviews, check online forums, and consider recommendations from fellow travelers. Look for a company that is known for its professionalism, customer service, and well-maintained vehicles.

2.2 Reading the Fine Print

Always read the terms and conditions of the rental agreement carefully. Pay attention to hidden fees, mileage limitations, fuel policies, and any additional charges that may apply. Understanding the fine print will help you avoid unexpected expenses and disputes when returning the car.

3. Understanding Insurance Policies

Insurance coverage is an important aspect of renting a car. It's essential to evaluate the available options and clarify the terms and conditions to avoid costly mistakes.

3.1 Evaluating Coverage Options

Review the insurance options provided by the rental company. Consider purchasing Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) or Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) to limit your liability in case of an accident or theft. Evaluate whether your personal auto insurance or credit card offers any coverage for rental vehicles.

3.2 Clarifying Terms and Conditions

Ensure that you fully understand the insurance policy's terms and conditions. Pay attention to deductibles, exclusions, and any additional requirements. Inquire about the process for filing a claim and the necessary documentation in case of an incident.

4. Booking in Advance

Booking your rental car in advance can save you both time and money. By reserving early, you have a wider selection of vehicles and better chances of securing a competitive rate. Additionally, booking ahead allows you to plan your itinerary more effectively, ensuring a smoother travel experience.

5. Inspecting the Vehicle

Before driving off, thoroughly inspect the rental car for any pre-existing damages. Take note of scratches, dents, and other issues, and inform the rental company to avoid disputes upon returning the vehicle. It's also advisable to document the condition of the car through photographs or videos as evidence.

6. Knowing the Road Rules

Different countries in Africa may have varying road rules and driving conditions. Familiarize yourself with the local regulations, speed limits, signage, and any unique driving customs. Being aware of the road rules will help you avoid fines, penalties, and accidents.

7. Returning the Car

When returning the rental car, follow these tips to avoid additional charges:

Ensure the car is clean and free from personal belongings.

Return the vehicle on time to avoid late fees.

Refill the fuel tank according to the agreed-upon policy.

Keep all relevant documents and receipts as proof of return.


Are you intending to travel Africa with a rental car? Though a rental car can save you some good bucks, there are somethings that you should know. Here are some costly mistakes that you should avoid when renting a car in Africa.

  1. Buying extra insurance you don’t need. This is one of the costly mistakes people do when hiring cars, most of the companies provide insurance to clients so when you buy very many insurance you don’t need it may cost you a lot ending up spending a lot on car hire. If you have your own auto insurance policy, it may cover collision damage and personal liability for temporary use of a rental car. So before you book with a company check and see if it covers insurance policy this will help you to reduce on the cost that you may incurred.
  2. Renting from an airport. This very big mistake you should avoid and many travelers do it and end up in extra charges and it means airport surcharges. Many off companies like car rental provide the best car hire services with a reasonable price; we provide transportation to and from the airport at a very low price and it’s more convenient than booking at the airport.
  3. 3Failure to do good research. When planning to hire a car its advised to do good research on several companies offering the same service to avoid a one and done approach. If you’re planning to drive long distances check for mileage caps some companies like us offers unlimited mileage so you are allowed to drive a car as much as you can without facing extra charges. When doing research also try to find out the fuel type, the kind of car you need. So without proper research you may hire a car which may not meet your expectations and hence incurring extra charges
  4. Prepaying for gas. Prepaying for gas may seem convenient but it means you’ll pay for a full tank of gas, even if you return with the tank half full. It’s better to fill up yourself since you can usually find cheaper gas prices at a nearby station anyway. Many companies don’t include gas on their rates, so if you’re going for a long drive its better you full the tank to avoid being get stuck on the way.
  5. Paying extra for GPS or a car seat. This is another mistake travelers do and hence end up into extra costs, some companies can charge extras for accessories like a GPS or child car seat. GPS can cost you an additional $10 per day or more this is too much yet some companies hire them on the total price of a car rental. If you have a portable GPS you could pack in your suitcase and use on your trip, remember to remove it from the rental car on your return to avoid loss.


Renting a car in Africa opens up a world of possibilities for exploration, but it's crucial to avoid costly mistakes that can dampen your experience. By choosing the right rental company, understanding insurance policies, booking in advance, inspecting the vehicle, knowing the road rules, and returning the car responsibly, you can enjoy a hassle-free and memorable journey across the continent.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Should I book my rental car online or in person?

It's generally recommended to book your rental car online in advance. This allows you to compare prices, secure the vehicle of your choice, and often benefit from discounted rates.

2. What happens if I return the car late?

Returning the car late may result in additional charges. It's important to adhere to the agreed-upon return time to avoid any penalties.

3. Can I drive a rental car across different countries in Africa?

Driving across different countries with a rental car may have restrictions and additional fees. It's crucial to check with the rental company regarding their cross-border policies and any necessary permits.

4. Is it necessary to purchase additional insurance offered by the rental company?

While it's not mandatory, purchasing additional insurance, such as Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) or Loss Damage Waiver (LDW), can provide peace of mind and limit your liability in case of an accident or theft.

5. What should I do in case of an accident?

In case of an accident, ensure your safety and the safety of others involved. Contact the local authorities and inform the rental company immediately. Follow their instructions regarding the necessary steps to take and provide all required documentation.

Tia Szymansky
Tia Szymansky

Having Spent 8 Years Travelling, I have decided to Live in Africa for the past 2 years. Love every moment of it and sharing my best guides and tips if you plan on travelling here. Africa is always oversighted due to media and I believe with my blog, I can help revive the African Travel and Tourism Industry and invite you all here for a fantastic time :)

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