Car Rental at Dublin Airport – What to Expect

Car Rental at Dublin Airport – What to Expect

The car rental industry has a mixed reputation, with plenty of horror stories to be found on line. Complaints about charges for damage not done, and warning to take photos and video, it can be quite off putting. But not all cowboys ride horses and not all car hire companies are cowboys! We've been working with car rental companies for more than 10 years now and the vast majority of our customers hire cars, so we like to think we have some insider knowledge that we are happy to share.

Who is Who?

There are currently five car rental companies at Dublin Airport - Hertz, Avis Budget, Enterprise, Sixt, and Europcar. (For full disclosure, we partner with Sixt and Enterprise.) Other brand names will pop up, such as National, Alamo and Thrifty, but these sit under the parent company. For example Dollar and Thrifty are part of Hertz, Flizzr is part of Sixt, BlueWay is part of Avis Budget, Carhire is part of Europcar and National, Dooleys and Alamo are part of Enterprise. While Easirent will appear on searches for Dublin Airport, they are not at the airport, they are near the airport.

How do they work?

The car rental companies each have a desk in both terminals. (Note; since the pandemic started, they are only operating from terminal 2. It's a short walk between terminal 1 and terminal 2). There are cars parked at the terminal car parks, and there is also a large car park off site, where customers have to take a shuttle bus to get to. It's not far, about five minutes away. If you'd prefer to collect your car at the airport, it is worth asking specifically for it. There may be additional charges or stipulations to do so however. Many, such as Hertz and Sixt, offer airport pick up as part of their premium service. Enterprise try and give families cars at the airport rather than busing them, but it really depends. Also, if you pick up from the terminal car park, you return to the terminal car park, which is nice!

Car Insurance

Always, always, always check if the car rental company you have booked your car with will accept your insurance (if you are not using theirs). If you go through a broker such as, it is even more important to check, or you may be surprised at the desk. Many car rental companies will not accept on-line excess cover for example, or some credit card insurance, so definitely make sure. I asked the car rental staff what they do when they go on holidays and book a car, and they always say that they book directly with the company and buy their full cover. It is more expensive, but you get better service, there are no surprises and if there's any damage you walk away.

Credit Card

Also worth remembering, you need a credit card to hire a car in Ireland and the car rental companies will freeze a certain amount until the car is returned. You can't hire a car with a debit card.

What are the differences?

We often get asked what the differences are with the companies and which would we recommend. All the cars are the same, a Qashqai is the same in Avis as Europcar, but there is definitely a difference with service. I'm not talking about queues, there are often queues and unless you book premium you can't skip them. I'm talking about what happens when you get to the desk.  
  • Hertz are excellent, they've a great team and are highly professional. The only downfall (admittedly in our favour) is that they don't have any baby or high back booster seats. They have child seats and booster cushions.
  • Sixt and Enterprise are our partners so for balance I won't comment, suffice to say we provide all of their car seats and their customers are guaranteed a clean, safety checked seats in all sizes with a QR code to help with installation (well... I am the editor, I can write what I like!)
  • Europcar...cheaper prices... but read the fine print. Some (not all) of our customers have experienced difficulties here with things like additional charges and insurance issues. Their car seats are dreadful.
  • Avis Budget are actually the same company in Ireland; you may pay more for an Avis car than a Budget car, but they all come from the same car park! One difference might be that Avis customers' cars will be at the airport, while Budget customers may have to get a shuttle. This will depend on how busy they are and how quickly they can move cars up and down to the airport. Admittedly, their child seats are alright and the staff are lovely.


There are not a huge amount of car rental spaces at the terminal car parks at Dublin airport, so there is Eastlands. This means a shuttle bus. It's not far, about five minutes away. It's also where the cars should be returned to... Unless, you specifically ask for the car to be at the airport. There will most likely be an additional charge for this, some car hire companies include it in their premium service but worth bearing in mind if you're in a rush/ have lots of bags or tired kids! Hope this helps!