Cape Town Car Rental

On this page your will find the Expat Cape Town Car Rental options and get answers to the most asked questions from fellow expats. We have collected reviews and tips over the last ten years, thanks to many expats and visitors who have shared their experiences on rental agencies with us on the site and in our Facebook forum. This input did give us some real insights we now want to share with you. 

Car Hire FAQs and Car Rental Tips

Renting a car, gives you the flexibility to explore Cape Town and the surrounding areas such as the scenic Langebaan Lagoon, a mere one-hour-drive north of Cape Town. As we experienced too, it pays if you do your homework before renting a car and research all your car hire options. Read below what we found out about hiring cars in Cape Town and which companies come highly recommended.

Great Car Rental Companies in Cape Town

There are many Cape Town car rental agencies operating in the Mother City. The prices vary widely depending on the season and the length of rental. It always is advisable to get at least three quotes from Cape Town car rental companies or compare on one of the price comparison sites. The major car rental agencies that also have a desk at the Cape Town International Airport and at various points throughout the city are as follows: Avis Car Hire, Budget Car Rental, Dollar Thrifty, Europcar Rentals, FirstCarRental, Hertz, National Alamo and Tempest Sixt.

Often, smaller Cape Town car rental companies offer car rentals which are really great value. We had recommendations for the following sites, however, only few of them offer longer term rentals. See their websites for contact details.

  • Motorent: Started by an expat knowing what expats, students and interns coming to Cape Town look for and need when renting a car in Cape Town, they manage a growing fleet of reliable cars and offer value-for-money car rentals. Short- or longterm rental available. Make sure to check them out and get a quote.
  • RentMyRide: This is a growing car rental marketplace. Select your rental car from the listing of a wide range of cars. All listed rental cars have been checked, owners verified and comprehensively insured through the company. 
  • Cheap Car Hire Cape Town: Rent-a-Cheapie is a popular car rental agency with low rates. Mainly surfers can be seen driving with these cars, which they fill to the brim with surfboards and equipment. Low rates.
  • AroundaboutCars: This small company is very active all over the Cape offering competitive rates. They have newer cars, the majority of the cars are between one and three years old. 
  • SouthAfrican TravelStart: Travelstart offers car rental comparison site with car rental offers from various agencies. Easy to book.
  • Billiger Mietwagen: This German site offers value-for-money car rental contracts with major car rental companies. They offer discounts and are reliable.

Make sure you compare like for like regarding the insurance cover and excess which all the companies handle differently. With all companies, it is advisable to confirm your pick-up date via telephone or email the day before you want to collect the car.

Cape Town Car Rental FAQs

Which documents does the car rental company need?

  • Valid Driver’s Licence: An International Driver's Licence is advisable, as many car rental agencies prefer you have one. However, if your national driver's licence has got a picture and is in English, this should suffice as this is the legal requirement.
  • Passport or Picture ID Card
  • Credit Card or Cash Payment, credit cards are generally preferred and used for deposits too. Some companies will also accept small deposits instead of a credit card down payment.

Is renting an SUV or 4x4 necessary for driving in South Africa? 

Driving in the Cederberg Mountains

When renting a car in South Africa, choose your car size wisely. Driving in Cape Town is not much different to driving in any other metropolitan city in the world and there are only a few gravel road around the peninsula. Therefore, if you mainly want to explore Cape Town, the Cape Peninsula, the splendid beaches along the West Coast or False Bay or even venture to the nearby Winelands or along the Garden Route, you need not to worry, a small car will do.

If you want to venture further afield, off the main routes, you will find that you really can enjoy travelling better in a bigger car with better suspension or even an SUV, if you want to go further inland to places such as the Cederberg or Karoo, because of the many roads with potholes or the numerous gravel and untarred roads with some steeper inclines.

Do I need to have air-condition in the car?

We would recommend to rent a car with air-condition. In summer, the temperatures can feel scorchingly hot when on the road, especially when driving inland, away from the coast. 

How safe is driving in South Africa?

In South Africa, driving is easy with less cars and less congested roads outside the cities than you experience on the road in many countries overseas. We highly recommend to everybody, not to drive after darkness set in outside of the major towns as there often is no street lighting, there may be stray animals, vehicles without proper lighting or people walking on the road. At all times, is highly advised to carry a cellphone with you a local emergency contact, you can rely on for advice or support should you need help. In the majority, even in the case of a breakdown, people will stop and help. 

Cape Town Car Rental: Is there a minimum age for young drivers?

Most car rental agencies allow rentals to people under 23 years only if they have 2 years driving experience, i.e. are in possession of a valid licence for at least two years. At some companies you can rent a car from 18 or 21 years of age, but then often a young-drivers-fee apply.

Is it safe for women alone on a road trip?

Admiring the gorgeous views from Chapman's Peak

Yes, if you use common sense precautions. As everywhere in the world you need to take precautions when travelling alone. In South Africa, most roads are well maintained and if you stay on main roads and do drive during daytime, you should not encounter any problems. If your car breaks down, be sure to stay in the car and call your car rental company's emergency contact number. They will usually send road side assistance or inform the police.

What to check with Cape Town Car Rentals?

  • Always insist on full/comprehensive insurance cover. Not all motorists in South Africa do have insurance cover, so you have to make sure you and your passengers and your car is insured.
  • Opt for Zero Excess, this means you will not have to pay for any damage to the car.
  • Insist on unlimited mileage. Distances often are longer than expected and calculated. Should you encounter road closures, the distances between the routes can increase significantly in South Africa.
  • If you book a one-way rental, get written confirmation when booking. Transfers are often possible at additional cost, but must be confirmed to you in writing.
  • Consider carefully the length of your contract with any Cape Town car rental. Often renting more than 14 or 30 days gives you more value and better prices. Usually the maximum rental period is around 40 days on one contract.
  • Opt for a rental car agencies with round-the-clock-breakdown service or check if your national automobile club offers a partnership with the local AA in South Africa. In any case you should have an emergency contact number in case of an accident or car breakdown.

What to do when something goes wrong?

  • Make sure you take out a comprehensive insurance cover for your car. In case of an accident, call your car hire company and if the damage is minor, you usually do not need to call the police to the scene, but need to report the accident within 24 hours at the nearest police station. There you will get a case number which you need to supply to your Cape Town car rental company.
  • Car rental companies usually have their own emergency info line or are affiliated with a breakdown service. Ask for a break-down emergency number if it is not provided with the contract. 
  • Tyre punctures happening fairly often in South Africa due to debris on the roads. Contact your car rental agency for advice. You can easily get the tyre fixed at a local garage or chain repair centres, such as Hi-Q or SupaQuick, KwikFit Tyres or Speedy Tyres Shop. There they check the puncture and repair the tyre usually with a plug in less than an hour. It usually costs R50-60 for the repair.

More Cape Town Car Rental Tips?

  • Check your rental vehicle, when you get it and before you leave the car rental parking. Especially the tyres and if you have got a spare tyre in your car!
  • Often it is better to have an extra day to get used to your car before going on your South African travels.
  • Taxi drivers in South Africa are known for a quite aggressive driving style, so beware of the taxis swerving in and out of lanes or overtaking. Truck drivers should be given special consideration as some trucks have mal-functioning break systems.
  • Buy some local maps or a map book of the region (available at many supermarkets) so you do not have to rely solely on a car's navigation system.
  • When booking with a frequent flyer card, check if special rates apply. Most of the car rental companies are members in an airline mileage program.

Have a safe trip and enjoy the journey:-) Should you want to share some of your experiences regarding your Cape Town Car Rental please send us a short message here. 

Disclaimer: The car rental tips given on this page are for information purposes only. We do not take any liability for any advice given on this page. Always check the terms and conditions of the car rental companies as we do not take liability for information accessed from and distributed though these companies. From Cape Town Car Rental to Transport Directory

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