Short term car rental in Portugal

This summer, for our family holidays in Portugal during the month of August, we have chosen to organize a big trip in two parts: an 8-day circuit in the centre of the country, then 8 days of lounging on the beach in the south on the Algarve.

We needed to rent a car for the first half of our adventure, to discover this beautiful country.

But which car rental to choose?

We consulted traditional rental agencies on the internet. We also contacted the Portuguese residence (Pierre & Vacances) directly where we were going to finish our trip in the sun. They recommended a local rental agency, AV/Discovery Cars. It was an independent service to the ones suggested by Pierre & Vacances.

A month before our departure, after a telephone conversation to tell them what we needed, our representative sent us an offer by email. An offer that we couldn’t refuse:

  • unlimited mileage,
  • insurance included, and with no franchise,
  • airport tax included,
  • no additional expense for the 2nd driver,
  • no pick-up charges for our vehicle by the agency from our residence (despite initially picking it up at Faro airport at 50 km from there).


All this for about 60% of the price of the other offers found in the classical channels, for an equivalent model.

With the rental, on the road:

As we had to use the motorways, the offer of a toll badge at 20€ (this included: 5€ service charges, and 15€ pre-loaded onto the badge by the rental agency) which was really useful. There were no unpleasant surprises when we got home. In fact, the contract specified the way of getting the 20€ back at the end of the rental:

  • if you go over 15€, you are required to pay the difference (that’s what happened to us!)
  • if you don’t use anything on the badge, you are reimbursed in full (20€)
  • but if you are somewhere in between these two situations, you don’t get the 20€ back.


So what did we think?

From this experience, I think I will automatically consult trustworthy local contacts to find good prices if we ever rent another car abroad.

What a shame, I don’t have enough time to talk to you about la Ginja d’Obidos…

Enjoy your trip.



The famous Portuguese tele-badge system: a reminder.

Contrary to France, in Portugal there are two payment methods for toll gates. Both allowing that you don’t have to wait in lines of traffic:

  • toll gates memorise vehicles as they go through by taking a photo of the registration plate. Users then have between 2 and 5 days after passing through the gate to go to a Post Office to pay what is due. After this date, f the user doesn’t pay, he receives an increased fine at their personal address.
  • The toll gate badge (the one supplied by the rental agency): the agency has already recorded the registration plate of the vehicle, the driver and their credit card number. Therefore, the driver is debited directly from their account at the end of the rental. Toll gate badge option means that you can start with a credit (e.g.: 20€), this enables clients from other countries to not receive the fine at their home. A good complementary offer for French rental agencies: to supply a toll gate badge. They would then be in charge of debiting the renter of the car each time the toll gate is used.

Read more here


Written by Jacques and Alex.