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Renting a Car Long Term in the Algarve

Last updated in September 2019 | 9 Comments from Portugalist readers.

So, you’re planning on spending a few months on the Algarve. You have your long term accommodation booked, but you need a way of getting around. Is the easiest option to rent a car long term?

Although the Algarve has a reasonable bus and train service, which is fine for getting from one large town to another, it’s not ideal for exploring. To make the most of your time on the Algarve, you’ll really want to have your own car.

Unfortunately, hiring a car on a long-term basis isn’t as easy as it could be. Although some local car hire companies do offer long-term rates, particularly during the winter, these aren’t advertised and you’ll have to contact each company individually.

First, check the car hire comparison sites

It’s always worth following the standard car rental route and checking the car hire comparison sites as they sometimes have very cheap deals, particularly in winter: I’ve seen car rental for less than €1 per day at Faro Airport during the winter months. These deals are usually last minute, which is annoying for those that like to plan in advance, but the standard rates may be the best value for money as well.

The main car hire comparison sites are:

To see if any of these were worth using, we had a look to see how much it would cost to hire a car for the month of October. We were checking in advance rather than last-minute, so it’s possible that there might be better deals closer to October. That isn’t a guarantee, but it’s definitely possible.

  • TravelSupermarket.com: cheapest deal started at £145 (€163 at time of writing).
  • Skyscanner.net: cheapest deal started at €170
  • Kayak.com: cheapest deal started at €170
  • Holidayautos.com: cheapest deal started at €200
  • Rentalcars.com: cheapest deal started at €466

The cheapest deal is €163, which works out to roughly €5 per day. These deals are rarely with Hertz or Europcar or a car hire company that you know, of course, so be sure to read up on the company before agreeing to anything.

It’s also worth noting that some car hire companies don’t like you renting for more than 30 days at a time. If this happens, you may have to book a different car hire deal for each month that you’re in the Algarve.

Contact local car hire companies

Next, check to see if any of the local car hire companies can beat the price the comparison sites give. We contacted a few just to get an estimation so we could see how it compared to our other quotes.

AutoRent.pt

Autorent.pt are a small car hire company based in Portimão, but with an office at Faro Airport. They took a long time to get back to me, but they did provide one of the cheapest quotes.

Price Quoted: €176

Yor Car

Yor Car is a Portuguese car rental company based at Faro Airport that offers car hire in the Algarve and Lisbon. Their standard rates were one of the cheapest of the companies that I contacted.

Price Quoted: €279

Faro Car

Faro Car doesn’t have the fanciest website, but they do have a desk at Faro Airport so I thought I’d check and see how much it would cost to hire a car long-term with them. Again, I checked for the entire month of October.

Price quoted: €357

Travel Rent

Travel Rent have an even worse website: it actually doesn’t work. Nevertheless they got back to me within an hour with a quote.

Price quoted: €365

Drive4fun

Drive4fun got back to me with a similarly high price. Although cheaper than Travel Rent, it was still much too high.

Price quoted: €320.

As you can see, I wasn’t able to get a better deal just by contacting companies directly.

Renault USA

Aimed at American tourists in Europe for 21 days or more, Renault Eurodrive buy-back leasing program allows American customers to lease a fully-insured new car for their trip to Europe. 

There are benefits to this over normal car rental (esp the insurance), but it only really becomes worth it if you rent the car for at least a few months (the more the better). Otherwise, it probably makes more financial sense to rent from a normal car rental company. 

Should you bring your car with you?

Another option is drive to Portugal and bring your car with you. Under EU rules, you can bring a car from one EU country to another for six months before you have to register it in the new country.

Plenty of people on the Algarve keep their cars beyond that period, and it isn’t something that’s regularly checked by the local police, but doing that could mean that the car insurance is essentially worthless.

On the subject of car insurance, you’ll need long term car insurance if you’re planning to bring your car with you (and breakdown cover) as most companies only cover you for a few months. Some insurance companies offer six months insurance, and one or two offer up to a year of cover.

If you’re coming from the UK, you may want to buy a LHD car. There are surprisingly quite a few of them in the UK, and there are even some garages that specialise in them.

What about buying a second hand car in Portugal?

Second-hand cars in Portugal are notoriously expensive, particularly when compared to the UK which is a haven for cheap second-hand cars. You’ll pay at least 2-3 times in Portugal what you would pay for the same car in the UK.

It is an option, but it may not make the most sense financially. You’ll probably be buying quite an old car and, for the same money, you can hire a brand new car from a car rental company.

It’s not the same as owning it, sure, but at least you won’t have to worry about it breaking down and needing repairs.

Last updated in September 2019.
If you spot a mistake, leave a comment below.

9 thoughts on “Renting a Car Long Term in the Algarve”

Leave a comment or ask a question below. I try and answer all of them.
  1. Hi…I am trying to find out how much it would cost me to live in the Algarve on the beach…Something small a studio or 1 bedrooom..I am thinking of retiring there…Any suggestions..I wish the money was in English so I would have an idea of what rents go for…Hope to hear from you…

    • Hi Jo,

      It wouldn’t really make sense for me to put the prices in pounds sterling as the pound is constantly fluctuating against the Euro. The information could end up out of date very quickly.

      If you move to Portugal everything will be in Euros, and working out how much everything is in pounds is a part of being an expat here. Actually at the moment, it’s pretty easy: take the euro amount and subtract 10% and you’ll get a fairly good idea. Of course, all that could change and could change very drastically with the way things are politically in the UK.

      We have an article on renting accommodation in the Algarve with a list of sites where you can find accommodation.

  2. Hi James
    I notice you don’t make any mention of the deposits and excesses, which when we read the “T’s & C’s” before making a booking, made our eyes pop out on stalks!
    We’ve just moved from South Africa and sold our lovely cars and have been toying with the idea of renting a car for about 20 days a month (which seems to give you the best deal… better than 7 days, much better than 30 days…). We found great deals for good cars at around 3 euro a day. But the deposit hits it out of the ballpark – 1500 euro, for a car rental worth less than 100 euro! Then 1845 euro each for damage or theft excess (even after having taken the insurance). We are really shocked at this. What is your experience of it?

    Kind regards
    Janine

    • Hi Janine,

      This tends to be very common with the car rental companies that you’ve never heard of, and less so with the likes of Europcar, Sixt, etc. I’m always very nervous of those companies, and don’t really rent with them but would probably take the full insurance if I did. The more normal companies do still charge a bit excess, but it’s normally a lot less than that.

      Alternatively, I have noticed a lot of people taking out annual “car hire excess” policies. I haven’t done this yet myself, so can’t comment on it, but it does seem to be quite popular.

      James

  3. Yes indeed terms and conditions, specifically the excess is quite a problem. You either take the risk or buy the insurance. As I use an expensive amex card with cover for all damages to any rental car I just go for the cheapest rental company. And I don’t mind the excess. Yes, you should have enough credit on your card and mind that the company accepts amex. Caution is needed anyhow, we take pictures of the car on collect and return. My experience is that when they see you taking pictures they know it is hard to pull off the trick of fake damages afterwards… never had a problem there.

    • Hi Herman,

      I’m not sure. I’ve never been given an old car at a car rental company here in Portugal. It has happened to me in some other parts of the world, particularly in more rural locations but never in Portugal.

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