Renting a Car in Iceland
Unless you plan on booking bus tours, renting a camper, or using a bicycle, the only way to travel to just about anywhere within Iceland outside of the capital city of Reykjavik is to rent a vehicle — and I needed transportation for eleven days…
Renting a Car in Iceland
…but going through the official Internet web sites of the rental car companies from which I usually rent a vehicle was an exercise in sticker shock for me when pertaining to Iceland. Rates were in the hundreds of dollars — a range of $500.00 to $700.00 for a mini or economy class vehicle for eleven days was not unusual.
I then decided to use RentalCars.com to search for a car to rent. Initially, I was going to rent a car for ten days and rent a four-wheel drive vehicle for the last day. I lucked out and found a rate of $260.18 total with Sixt for a Chevrolet Spark or similar with unlimited kilometers and including all taxes and fees. I have never rented a vehicle from Sixt; but I have heard of the company and know that it is a major rental car company. I paid for the rental of the vehicle in full in advance; but the reservation was completely flexible and refundable until the day before I arrived in Iceland.
As the departure date of my trip loomed closer, I realized that the only time I would need a four-wheel drive vehicle was for only one place which I was considering visiting: Landmannalaugar, which can only be accessed by something known as an F Road. I decided that the cost of renting a four-wheel drive vehicle — plus the likelihood of having to go out of my way near Keflavik International Airport to exchange vehicles — was simply not worth the time and effort to me.
I decided to rent a car for eleven days instead; but my reservation with Sixt could not be extended by one day. I was not happy about that, as I thought I had a great rate. I returned to RentalCars.com to search for another car to rent for eleven days and found one for $299.41 total with a company called Procar for a Kia Rio or similar with unlimited kilometers and including all taxes, fees, a collision damage waiver with a deductible of 230,000 Icelandic Krona or approximately United States $2,155.00, third party liability insurance, and theft protection.
I had never heard of Procar and knew nothing about it — nor such rental car companies in Iceland as Geysir, Green Motion, Orange Car Rental, Ice Rental Cars or Flizzr. “Do not, I repeat do not, rent a car from Sixt or Flizzr” is what CR — who is a reader of The Gate — warned in this comment. “This was who I ended up renting through when I rented through Wow Air in Iceland. I waited 2.5 hours to rent a car and an hour to *return* it. The customer service was awful. Avoid at all costs.”
A Kia Rio compared significantly more favorably than a Chevrolet Spark; and I was renting a vehicle for an extra day — so I decided to take a chance and rent from Procar, thinking that a total of $299.41 for eleven days was arguably an even better deal than what I originally reserved. I booked this reservation in advance and canceled the other one, which was no problem. The complete amount of money I paid for the original reservation was eventually refunded to my credit card.
I printed out a rental voucher and brought it with me to Iceland as proof that I had already paid for the rental.
I did not expect to be processed through customs at Keflavik International Airport so quickly upon arrival; so I waited for the representative of Procar at the information desk in the Arrivals hall. He eventually showed up in his Procar jacket.
The van was full of customers as the representative drove the Procar van to the facility, which had a line with only one representative working behind the counter at the time. I waited in line for approximately one hour, during which two additional representatives started working behind the counter.
While waiting in line, three large screens overhead demonstrated convincing arguments for customers to purchase extra insurance coverage, which I did not purchase because the credit card which I used provided coverage:
- Tire insurance — includes 100% reimbursement of repair or replacement with no deductible for: Tires, Valve Stems and Balancing. This insurance does NOT cover the rims and off road driving. Cost: 690 Icelandic Krona or approximately United States $6.45 per day.
- Sandstorm protection — covers damage to the paint, windows, lights, plastics, chrome and rims of the rental cars, caused by sand or other earth materials being blown onto the vehicle. Videos of actual damage caused by sandstorms were shown on the giant screens. The deductible is 40,000 Icelandic Krona or approximately United States $374.65. Cost: 1,890 Icelandic Krona or approximately United States $17.70 per day.
- Gravel Protection — covers all damage caused by gravel — such as cracks in the window — and all gravel damage on the front, top and on the sides of the car. Gravel protection does NOT cover gravel damage under the car. Iceland has greater than 500 kilometers of public gravel roads. If you plan on driving around the country, Procar highly recommends this protection. Cost: 990 Icelandic Krona or approximately United States $9.25 per day.
When the paperwork was finally finished, I was given the keys and a packet; and I was instructed as to where the car was located in the parking lot. I was also told to take photographs of the car in case a discrepancy arose later, which I did and I also have advised in past articles for readers of The Gate to do when renting a car.
A white Kia Rio awaited me; and it had small orange stickers dotted around various parts of the car — which indicated where damaged parts of the car that were not yet repaired were located.
I immediately wondered to myself if this was one of those rental car companies which dinged customers with costly fees for damage — no matter how minor — and never repairs them. It was too late at that point; so I scoured the car for any additional damage and found none to report.
I was warned not to use gasoline as fuel, as the car uses diesel fuel. I never rented a diesel car before; but I later found out that they did me a favor: gasoline cost more than eight United States dollars per gallon when I visited Iceland — and diesel was slightly less expensive than gasoline, so I saved money on fuel. This car was also rather fuel efficient.
The car was actually rather roomy and comfortable for a small car…
…and it basically had everything I needed. The car was fully loaded with features.
Greater than 40,000 kilometers was already clocked on the car when I first got into it; but it still seemed more like a newer vehicle — and it operated without a problem during the entire rental. I added at least 5,000 additional kilometers to the mileage of the car.
Affixed to the dashboard on the passenger side of the car was a large sticker which gave guidance on using the car — as well as warned about what was prohibited in terms of using the car.
F Roads in Iceland
An F Road in Iceland is amongst the most dangerous roads to drive. They are more treacherous than gravel roads; are usually open only a few months out of the entire year; can go through rivers and other flowing water; and require that only 4×4 vehicles are allowed to be driven on them.
If you plan on driving on an F Road, you must rent a four-wheel drive vehicle. Do not attempt to rent a regular car to navigate on these roads.
For the record, I have never driven on an F Road in the rental car — although with the poor condition of some of the gravel roads on which I drove, I could have sworn that I have driven on them.
After having driven on many miles of gravel roads — I will address that in a future article — I was concerned that some wayward piece of gravel did some sort of damage somewhere on or under the vehicle; but after waiting in line at the facility for approximately another hour to return the car, it was given a thorough inspection and a clean bill of health by an employee of Procar. Paperwork was signed by both parties to that effect to prevent future claims.
I was thrilled.
The total cost of renting that car remained at $299.41 for eleven days — that works out to slightly less than United States $27.22 per day — which is a bargain for Iceland, in my opinion.
If you are willing to resign yourself to the almost certainty that you will lose approximately three hours of your life being picked up at the airport, waiting in line to rent the car, waiting in line to return the car, and being dropped back off at the airport, the rental experience was actually pleasant; and the employees were somewhat friendly.
I cautiously recommend renting a vehicle from Procar — but ensure that you are prepared for any impediment to your rental experience to happen, just in case.
I was fortunate — or perhaps lucky — that my rental experience was flawless.
All photographs ©2018 by Brian Cohen.