Ultimate Guide to a Car or an RV Rental in Iceland
Iceland is a small island located in the North Atlantic. It is well-known as the least populated country in Europe. So what makes it to special? It is its location and climate that distinguish it and the beautiful scenery. You will find rivers, volcanoes, geysers and the Northern Lights. So many magical natural attractions on such a small island right?
If you want to see it all and get as much of the trip as possible and visit more places beside Reykjavik, you should definitely rent a car or an RV in Iceland. I assure you it will be a great experience. You drive whenever you want, you see the places which you’ve always wanted to see. This sense of freedom plus the unparalleled landscapes of Iceland, is what you should experience at least once in a lifetime.
It is worth considering a car rental for your trip to Iceland. Another way is renting a campervan or a motorhome in Iceland. How to go about it? Keep on reading we will give you all the necessary tips and advice.
Best car and RV rental in Iceland
As mentioned above, the best way to see the most of Iceland is to organise a road trip around the island. But where should I rent a car or RV for my trip, you might ask. We assumed that it could be a dilemma as there are numerous car rentals in Iceland. We will take a closer look to what defines a company to be the best car rental in Iceland:
You will want to get the car directly when you arrive in Iceland to avoid having to go by bus to the capital first with all your suitcases after a long flight. It is important to find a rental company that is located right at Keflavik airport. Most of the car and RV rental companies have pick up and drop off locations both at the international airport and in the capital - Reykjavik. If you plan to drop off the car in the city so you can do some sightseeing before heading back to your country, first make sure they offer this service and at what cost. Beware that most of the companies do not offer car rental service from the Reykjavik airport (the domestic one). It is easy to confuse it with Keflavik International Airport.
You want them to have a flawless customer service right? Who wants to arrive to a foreign country after a 10-hour flight and talk to a grumpy agent in the office? No one! Most of the agents working there in the local car hire companies are Icelandic and know the roads rules very well. They can give you a lot of useful tips and advice about driving safely in Iceland.
Competitive rental rates. This is probably the point that most of you would place first. Well, not that fast! Cheaper doesn’t mean better in this case. Remember that driving on Icelandic roads can be really challenging. You will need a car in very good condition, well maintained that will not let you down and will not give you issues during the trip. It is very important to feel safe in your rental vehicle. Especially if you plan to rent an RV in Iceland, you will want everything to work properly and not to have to spend one hour trying to make the gas stove work. Am I right?
It is good to choose the company which offers a wide fleet and good services in Iceland. Most of the rental companies in Iceland offer road assistance available 24 hours per day in case you need any help. They provide you with the phone number available at all times with mechanics ready to assist you. It is worth having this number handy during your road trip.
In Iceland the situation with extra insurance is a bit different than in other European countries. Normally you think that the extra insurance is a scam and just a way to get more money of your pocket. Iceland is an expensive country thus many tourists decide to save some money on insurance. This is a big mistake. As you already know, almost 50% of the roads in Iceland is gravel roads with loose stone. I do not need to explain what will happen with your windshield when a stone from the wheel hits it right? I am not even going to mention the cost of the new windshield in Iceland. Make sure your car rental has insurance included, at least SCDW (super collision damage waiver) which lowers the self risk fee in case of a damage and GP (gravel protection) insurance.
Renting directly in Iceland or booking online?
Iceland is getting more and more tourists every year even in the off peak season. It is a small country and so car hire companies are limited. If you’ve already decided to book a car or an RV for your Icelandic trip, make sure you search for it in advance. In case of an RV rental it should be done at least 3-4 months before the trip. I would rather book it online rather than renting a car directly in Iceland as it can be quite risky. You might find out that there is no vehicle that suits your needs or that the price is really high.
Another thing is that most of the rental companies need from 24 hours to even 72 hours to prepare your car. You wouldn’t want to get stuck at the airport wasting your holidays while waiting for the car.
From my own experience I know that when I am forced to make a choice quickly, it is not always the best choice. It is very important to know what vehicle is best for you, what features you need, plan it way in advance. It might happen that you will be rushed by the agent to book any vehicle because it is the only thing they have left, and you will end up dissapointed.
If you plan to do the road trip with an RV in Iceland it is even more important to book the vehicle in advance. It will be your hope during your holiday and it has to be equipped in everything you might need.
Iceland car and RV rental cost and how to get the best deal?
The most effective way to get the best rental rates in Iceland is of course booking online in advance. Most of the local companies have their full offer online where you can make a booking in advance. You can do it directly from your home. Compare the prices and the services they offer and search for the early birds offers. Sometimes for booking your rental vehicle in Iceland online you can get a nice discount. It is always worth to ask.
Do I need a credit card?
We receive this question every day, I am not exaggerating. And it is a very important one! We already devoted an article to this subject, you can read it here. Some rental companies in Iceland require a valid credit card for the security imprint for your rental. If you book online, normally you are required to pay some part of the total price as a booking fee. It is from 15-20%. You can use your debit card for this part and as well for the remaining balance payment which will be made upon the pick up. In most cases there is no amount blocked on it beforehand. It can only be used in certain situations like: unpaid parking tickets, fines not paid or the insurance self-risk fee. It is worth to check that as well with your rental company and read their terms and conditions.
So just to summarize it: you can make a payment for your rental with a debit card, but for the security imprint you need a valid credit card. Oh, one more thing! The cards you will be using need to belong to one of the passengers!
Do I need a special license?
Another important point. Most of the tourists coming to Iceland will wonder if their driver’s license will be valid on our small island as well. Others think of applying for “international license”. To make things clear, there is no such thing as “international license”. There is an International Driving Permit indeed. When do you need it? If you license is not in English or Latin characters, you will than need to apply for this certificate. You will need to have it along with your driver’s license as it certifies the validity of it.
European B category license for vehicles up to 3500kg (3.5 tons) is fine and valid for your road trip in Iceland. As mentioned above it has be in English or at least Latin characters so we can easily read it.
Your license also has to be held for at least one year at the time your rental starts.
It is worth to check with the car hire company you decided to go with, if there are any age restrictions. For standard small cars it is usually 20-21 years old; if you want to go for a 4x4 or bigger SUV, you need to be at least 23 years old; campervans and motorhomes require you to be at least 20-25 years old depending on the model.