Renting a car in Singapore for the first time? Read this quick guide before you get started

1585 words7.9 min read

Renting a car for the first time can be exciting—and daunting. For one, there are a handful of rental jargons that you have to know, and you might not know what to expect either. For first-time car renters, this guide will introduce you to all the basics that you need to know about renting a car in Singapore: from the typical requirements to car collection to insurance coverage, we’ve got you covered.

What is car rental?

Unlike car ownership where you own a car from the moment you purchase it to when you sell it off, car rental allows you to drive for a shorter period without having to put yourself through all the financial commitments and responsibilities that come with owning a car.

Generally speaking, there are two main types of car rental in Singapore — long-term car rental and hourly car rental (short-term). While long-term car rental allows you to rent a car from weeks to months to even a year, hourly car rental gives you the freedom to book a car only when you need one.

Both types of car rental come with similar requirements that you’ll have to meet to be eligible to rent.

Why rent a car in Singapore instead of buying one?

(Photo: ShopBack)

Having a car to drive is no doubt convenient, but with car prices in Singapore continuing to soar, more and more people are reconsidering car ownership and looking at alternatives like car rental

In fact, in the first three months of 2022 alone, more than one in five cars registered were meant for private hire — and this rapid increase of PHV from the previous year was mainly due to an increase in car rental. 

Car rental offers a great deal of flexibility and convenience. You get to drive without having to worry about rising COE prices and value depreciation, as well as other commitments like car maintenance and servicing, insurance and road tax.

Requirements to renting a car in Singapore

Driving licence

The most important requirement: a valid driving licence. If you’re a Singaporean citizen or Permanent Resident, you’ll have to possess a valid class 3 or 3A driving licence. 

Foreigners residing in Singapore for less than 12 months will be able to use the driving licence from their home country, provided that it’s in English — otherwise, you’ll have to get it officially translated into English or obtain an International Driving Permit.

If you’re a foreigner residing in Singapore for over 12 months, you’ll have to convert your driving licence to a Singapore driving licence.

Age and P-plate

Most car rental companies require the rentee to be between 22 and 73 years old with at least one year of driving experience. However, some still allow you to rent a car if you’re younger or have a P-plate licence —- take note that there’s generally a higher premium and insurance excess for younger and/or inexperienced drivers.

Your driving record

Have you ever been charged for any major traffic violation like excessive speeding or hit-and-run? Chances are, you may not be able to rent a car if you were previously a traffic offender.

Other things to know before you rent a car in Singapore

(Photo: MoneyMate)

Car insurance and rental agreement

Most car rental companies include car insurance in the total price so you’ll need not worry about purchasing one on your own. That said, don’t forget to read the insurance policy carefully to see to what extent you’re covered. Be sure to also identify these terms in the policy:

  • Collision Damage Waiver — a type of protection that helps reduce your Accident Excess
  • Liability Coverage — helps cover the costs of the other driver’s property damage and/or bodily injuries if you’re found to be at fault in an accident

If you have your own car insurance, you may also check with your provider if your policy covers rental cars. The bottomline is, car insurance is mandatory in Singapore so this is not something you’ll be able to skip.

Take your time to go through the rental agreement as well, and familiarise yourself with the following terms and conditions:

  • Security deposit — an amount of money that the car rental company will hold on to until you return the rental car
  • Cancellation fees — most companies have a free-cancellation period after which you’ll be charged a portion of your booking fee if you cancel your rental
  • Extension or late return fees — find out what the costs are if you decide to extend your rental or are late to return your car
  • Conditions for overseas use — if your renter allows you to drive in Malaysia, be sure to know what the surcharge is, and how the insurance policy will protect you in the event of an accident across the border
  • Additional driver fee — car rental companies typically charge more if there’s a second driver because the insurance policy will be extended to two drivers (make sure you declare if there are two drivers so that both of you are well-protected at all times)

Refuelling

Most car rental companies will require you to manage your own refuelling and return the car at the end of the rental period with a full tank, whereas some only need you to top up to ¼ tank. With GetGo, on the other hand, you’re not obligated to refuel as petrol is on us.

Rental rates and dates

How much you’ll pay for car rental in Singapore depends on the company you’re renting from and how long your rental period is. Many companies offer lower rates if you’re renting for a longer duration.

When it comes to deciding when to rent, try your best to plan ahead of time — and that means ideally making your booking at least two weeks in advance so that you can secure your preferred car and save on any possible last-minute surcharge.

Collecting your rental car

It’s normal to let your excitement take over on the big day but before you drive off, spend some time checking your car — the car’s condition (both interior and exterior) should be as stated in the agreement. If there’s any issue or damage, highlight it with the renter to protect yourself from unnecessary repair charges. This process will usually take about 15 to 30 minutes so remember to be early!

Pro tip: Take as many (clear) pictures and videos of the car’s interior and exterior as you can to avoid any unnecessary charges for damages that weren’t caused by you.

Returning your rental car

On the last day of your rental, aim to return your car at least 30 minutes early to avoid getting stuck in any unforeseen incident and showing up late (which will most likely incur late return fees). Upon returning, your renter will inspect the car for any issues or damages. They’ll also be checking for cleanliness, so make sure you care for the car and clean it as if it’s your own.

If you’re going for the hourly car rental option, you’ll usually just have to return your car to the same parking lot that you first collected it from —- and provide the renter with pictures that show the car’s condition.

Which car should you rent?

This really depends on what your needs are. If you require a larger space for more passengers or luggage, then you’d want to pick a bigger car. But if there are only two of you, choosing a smaller car may be more cost-effective.

Which is the best option if you don’t need to drive regularly?

Traditional or long-term car rental typically involves a lot of paperwork and is more suitable if you’re a frequent driver. But if you won’t be driving every other day, hourly car rental or carsharing may just be the perfect choice for you. Most hourly car rental services come with fewer commitments and more freedom to drive a wide variety of cars at lower rates.

With GetGo, you’ll be able to rent a car from 22 different car models in over 1,100 locations across Singapore from just $3/hour. Not only that, you don’t have to worry about things like petrol, car maintenance, road tax and season parking as everything is taken care of by us. In short, pay only for what you use. Check out how you can rent a GetGo car in just 3 minutes!

We hope that this guide will help you stay informed and confident while renting your first car. Doesn’t matter if you’re choosing long-term or hourly car rental, the #FreedomToDrive is undeniably yours!

Ready for your first-ever car rental? Download GetGo now to rent a car from $3/hour and use code G50RCS to enjoy 50% off (capped at $8) your first drive.

* Code is only valid for the first booking. Other T&Cs apply.

To the #FreedomToDrive
Luna 🛣

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