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Guide to Car Rental for Singaporeans, Expats, and Tourists

by Editor


Singapore is known for its excellent public transportation, which really acts as your savior in times of need. However, there are times when we just do not want to deal with public transportation at all. This is true for when you have tiny tots traveling with you or elderly people, or if you have ten different bags with food items that you need to take to your relatives’ house.

In such scenarios, if you do not own a car, you may want to rent one. Not owning a car is completely understandable, but when situations go beyond our control, there is absolutely no harm in wanting to rent one. This is one of the reasons why there is a hike in the demand for rental cars during occasions such as the Chinese New Year and Hari Raya.

If you have never rented a car before and are unsure of how to proceed, here’s a complete guide to know everything about car rentals in Singapore.

Reputable Car Companies in Singapore

In Singapore, you can broadly classify the car rental companies in three parts: international companies like Hertz, local companies like Lion City Rentals, and the car manufacturers/distributors themselves.

International Car Companies

You may be familiar with the companies that come in this category if all your experience with car rentals came while traveling. But being the international brand that they are, they can be quite expensive. Some of the companies are:

  • AVIS
  • Budget Rental Car
  • European Car Rental
  • Hertz

Local Car Companies

The local car rentals of Singapore are much cheaper than their global counterparts. However, it all ultimately depends on the model and make that you want. Some of the big names in Singapore include:

  • All Trust Leasing
  • Asian Express Car Rental
  • Eazi Car Rental
  • Lion City Rentals
  • Swee Seng Leasing

Car Manufacturers/Distributors

If you already know the make and model of the car you want and do not want to browse through endless options, you can contact the car manufacturer directly. Some of the distributors that rent out cars include:

  • Daimler (Mercedes Benz)
  • Kah Motor (Honda)
  • Audi On Demand
  • Volkswagen

Finally, thanks to the growing dependency on the internet, there are several marketplaces and comparison sites where you can find the cars that fit your budget perfectly. These sites help you compare the prices and find suitable options. Some of these include:

  • CarFlexi
  • Drive.SG
  • Skyscanner
  • Carousell

What are the eligibility requirements and licenses needed to rent a car in Singapore?

Before you continue further, you need to know if you are eligible to rent a car.

Age Limits

There is an age limit when it comes to renting a car. Most of the car rental companies rent out only to adults who are over 23 years old, with 69 years being the maximum age limit. There are a few companies who would rent out to people who are 70 to 74 years old, but the cost will be higher.

Probation Driver

If you are still in your first year of obtaining your driving license and are driving around with a P-plate, chances are that you will be rejected by most of the car rental companies. However, you can try out your luck with companies like Asia Express and AKA Car Rental.

Expat Rules

If you are a foreigner, you will have to show either a valid driving license in English or an International Driving Permit. With either of these, you are allowed to drive in Singapore for a period of 12 months.

Once the time frame of 12 months expires, you need to convert that permit to a Singapore driving license. The conversion takes about $50; however, you need to also pay for and take a basic test wherein you are checked for your knowledge and understanding of Singapore traffic rules.

Other Special Requirements

Some car rentals impose special requirements to drive certain types of cars. For example, age and experience restrictions are imposed for some models of cars such as BMWs, Mercedes Benzs, Volvos, and Audis. For these cars, you need to be between 23 and 65 years old and have 3 years’ driving experience.

What are short term car rental rates in Singapore like?

There are several factors that affect car rental rates in Singapore. While fixing the rate, things like make & model of the car, duration of rental, and any peak surcharge, if applicable. It is an acknowledged fact that larger the vehicle more would be the rate of it. The only exceptions include luxury sedans, sports car, and the likes of it.

Also, the shorter the rental duration, higher would be the cost. For instance, a company might quote you $90 to rent a Toyota Altis for a day, but the same company might charge you $225 if you rent it for five days (= $45 a day).

What are the rates or long-term car rental?

If you are looking to rent out a car for more than a month, it is known as car leasing. There is a different pricing structure if you are planning to lease a car. Car leasing is a cheap option if you go for a contract of one year or more.

However, you need to be extremely sure if you want to go out for that kind of a contract. Being careful is of utmost importance since breaking the lease will incur penalty costs.

What is included in Car Rental Packages?

It is not just due to brand names that car rentals become expensive. There are other factors too that help fix the rates of car rentals. The more expensive packages include several benefits and factors such as extra insurance coverage.

Some of the things that are typically included in car rental packages that you can find in terms of contract include the following:

  • Rental amount
  • Duration of the rental
  • Amount of security deposit
  • Payment schedule
  • Insurance coverage
  • Emergency breakdown control
  • Termination penalties

If you are not a car owner, you need to be very thoroughly versed with the insurance part of it because it is extremely important. Some of the terms are:

Named driver(s)

If the car you are renting is going to be shared, say by your spouse and you, make sure that both the drivers are named in the contract. If you put only one of the drivers’ name in the contract, you would not be insured if the other person is driving the car.

Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) or Collision Damage Waiver (CDW)

If anything happens to the car you have rented, the company will by default pass the costs to you. This is the normal case scenario which happens. However, if you opt for an LDW or CDW, you can prevent that from happening; this can usually be done by paying more upfront.

Theft Protection Insurance

If the rental car or any part of it gets stolen, you are liable to cover up the costs for it. However, if you opt for this insurance, the liable amount gets lowered to a small excess payment.

When you rent a car, do not forget that you have to deposit a security amount that is fully returned to you when you return the car. The car, when returned, has to be undamaged and you also have to make sure that you have not breached any terms of the contract.

Can the rentals cars be driven to Malaysia?

There are not many rental companies who would let you take the rented car to Malaysia. Some rental companies have special packages for cars that you can drive to Malaysia. Some other companies levy a surcharge (anywhere between $20 to $50); this charge depends on how far away you intend to travel in Malaysia. Make sure your contract meets all your needs if you are planning to drive out of the country.

Do not opt for a fancy car because that would increase the risk of thefts. Also, try and get bigger cars because they are made to stay sturdy in rough roads and can also hold up better in case of accidents.

Other things to check before you drive away with the car

After you are completely satisfied with the contract, you need to look out for a few more things before you drive away with your temporary car.

The first thing you need to look out for is the age of the car. For this, check the year in which the car was registered. The year of its registration will tell you the COE of that year. If the COE was high, it will add up to the total cost.

You need to also check the mileage. In Singapore, an average car covers anywhere between 20,000 to 25,000 kilometers a year. The more kilometers the car has traveled, the more worn out it is going to be. To know this, the age of the car is not a very accurate judge, so always make sure to check the mileage.

Another thing that you need to look for are any damages. Run a thorough check on the car before taking it with you, because you will be liable for any damage that is discovered after you return the car.

What is the best way to pay the bills for the car?

Paying using credit cards is, without any doubt, the best way to pay your rental bills. Use optimal credit cards that will help you earn reward points/miles or rebates.

It is very rare to find car rental companies having partnerships with banks, so you would want to use general cashback credit cards like the Standard Chartered Unlimited Cashback Card or HSBC Advance credit card, which will get your about 1.5% cashback.

You can also pay using miles credit card such as the BOC Elite miles card; this card gives you 1.5 miles per $1 that you spend locally. So, if you get an $800 rental package, you will earn 1200 miles to put your next holiday.

There is also an option of earning 500 KrisFlyer miles per rental if you are a member of the Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer. The airline has partner car rental companies such as Hertz and Europcar, using which you can earn your miles.

Are there any options apart from car rentals?

If you are looking for alternatives to car rentals, you can find them in Singapore, however, you need to be willing to pay a huge amount.

Car sharing companies

One of the options available in the car-sharing companies such as Tribe Car, Smove, and BlueSg. These options are good only if you are looking to rent the cars for short duration, by which we mean a few hours only. This is because car-sharing companies charge by the hour, and some of them even charge by the minute. This does not make them a cheap option; you can expect to pay at least $40 for a two hours rental period.

One of the most convenient things about booking through a car-sharing company is that you do not need to go to the company to pick up or drop off the car. It is said that the cars are parked in various spots across the island, allowing you to pick up the car from near where you are. However, locating the car can be quite a hassle.

Renting from private car owners

Another option available is renting a car from private car owners. There are numerous people who post their personal cars for rent online, so all you have to do is chat with them and get a good bargain. This option is, again, good for short term rentals. Depending on your negotiation skills, you can strike quite a cheap deal.

The downside of getting a rental car through private owners is the lack of a contract. A lack of legal documental is not a big deal if nothing goes wrong during your trip, however, if something goes very wrong, there is no legal contract to protect you.

Also, you need to remember that most car owners’ car insurance is not going to cover you since you are neither the owner of the car nor is your named listed in the list of named drivers. So, when choosing this option of renting a car, bear in mind the financial risk of driving without insurance coverage.

Get ready to experience the magic of car renting in Singapore!

Now that you know all the nitty-gritty of essentials of car rentals in Singapore, you are ready to choose this popular option and get the best out of it. All the options are right in front of you to help you make a sound and wise decision.

Read also:

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