Campervan hire can be a cheap and fun way to explore Australia, but beware of hidden fees.
You would think an ‘all-inclusive’ quote means that everything is included in the price, right? The answer is often NO. We compare the top 9 campervan hire companies, adding in necessary expenses such as insurance and additional drivers so you can see what the daily rental rate really is.
First, here are the results showing the difference between the quoted daily rate and the actual daily rate once insurance and other necessities are added on. Campervan companies that appear to be cheap are not necessarily so. Hightop camper vans have more room inside, so we’ve specified which are not hightops. If you have a foreign drivers license, add another $5 per driver per day to Wicked’s quote.
*NOTE: Aussie Campers is actually a third party campervan rental company that represents many different camper hire companies. Dealing directly with the campervan hire companies has its advantages. There’s less chance of miscommunication and double-bookings. They will also match any price to be sure they’re offering you the best deal. To avoid these disappointments, we suggest booking direct.
There are several key differences between camper rental companies. Let’s run through them quickly, so you know the pit falls to look out for, before putting it altogether in a comparison table.
- Campervan Insurance
This can make a HUGE difference to your daily rental rate. A number of campervan hire companies have a base “all-inclusive” rental rate that has a high excess damage component (sometimes called a bond) of around AU$3,000 – $8,000. This means that if you damage the vehicle you pay the excess ($3,000 – $8,000) before insurance kicks in.
You can pay a daily rate to have this excess reduced, but that can add quite a lot to the hire cost. The average scenario is that you would pay an additional $30 per day on top of a $90 a day rental to reduce your access, bringing your total to $120 per day. That’s a 33% price hike!
The only campervan hire company that includes low excess in their ‘all-inclusive’ quote is Camperman Campervan Hire.
PRE DEBIT ON YOUR CREDIT CARD
It is common for the camper van hire company to pre-debit the insurance excess from your credit card while you have the campervan. This means that if you have an excess of $3,000 (or, in the case of Britz, $8,000), this amount will be frozen on your credit card and you will not have access to that money while you have the campervan.
Here is a list of the excess amounts (or bonds) for each campervan rental company from lowest to highest if you stick with the quoted daily rate, and don’t add full insurance.
- Camperman $500
- Aussie Campervans $3,000 (this varies)
- Apollo $3,000
- Hippie Campers $3,000
- Wicked $3,000
- Spaceships $3,000
- Jucy $3,000
- Mighty Campers $3,500
- Britz $5,000 – $8,000
2. Road Tolls
Most campervan hire companies leave the payment of tolls up to you unless you add it on. Road toll fees range from $4 – $11 and must be paid within 3 days. Any unpaid tolls will incur an administration fee from the campervan hire company of $60 – $80 per infringement in addition to the toll fee owed to the tolling company.
Some camper rentals have a token on the windscreen that pays the tolls for you as you drive. Camperman Campervan Hire includes this token in their all-inclusive price. Others charge a once-off fee of $35 – $40 (Wicked, Apollo, Hippie). Some don’t have the option and you must pay the tolls as you go (Britz, Spaceships, Mighty Campers).
When you have a toll token you have unlimited access to toll roads in Australia and do not have to stress about paying them.
- One Way Fees
If you’d like to take a one way road trip, picking up the campervan at one destination and dropping it off at another, you might be charged as much as $200 (Wicked). Some campervan hire companies waive this fee altogether (Spaceships, Apollo, Hippie Campers and the main city depots of Camperman).
- Drivers under 21, Additional Drivers and Foreign license fees
The rest charge a daily fee for additional drivers or drivers under 21.
- Extra Equipment
It is common to charge additional fees for baby seats, GPS and outdoor furniture. These are not necessities so it makes sense to let the customer choose. But campervan companies vary when it comes to other extras such as cooking utensils, bed linen ($40 at Apollo and Hippie Campers and $10/day at Britz and Mighty Campers), maps ($25 Britz) and Air Conditioning ($6/day Wicked). Camper rental companies who do not charge for linen, maps, Air Conditioning and cooking utensils are Camperman and Spaceships.
- 24 hr roadside assistance
Most campervan hire companies that were researched for this article provide 24 hour roadside assistance without charging additional fees. Wicked was the only company to charge a call out fee for this but fail to specify what that call out fee is.
Putting it all together…
So, what is the cheapest campervan hire company in Australia?
In order to compare apples to apples, we have used the same criteria to compare prices as much as possible. Our criteria was as follows;
- A Hitop campervan for 22 days (Wicked, Spaceships and Jucy don’t have 2 person hitops but we’ve included them anyway)
- Travel dates: Feb 3 – Feb 24, 2018
- From Sydney to Brisbane
- Two drivers using foreign drivers licenses.
- One is under 21 (this disqualifies Britz and Mighty Campers but we’ve included them anyway.)
- If you have a foreign drivers licenses, add $5/driver/day to Wicked’s quote.
Conclusion: Cheapest Five
The cheapest Campervan hire companies are…
- Camperman ($92/day) for a roomy hightop which includes road tolls.
- Next is Jucy ($95/day) which isn’t a hightop and the kitchen is accessed by opening the back doors (not so good on rainy days), but the models are newer.
- Third place goes to Spaceships ($95/day + tolls) which are also not hightops and you need to take care of road tolls.
- Wicked ($97) quotes the cheapest price but slips to 4th place when necessities are added. The vans are not hightop and are very basic. 24 hour is not included in the price but is available. Their website does not say how much this will cost you. Also, if you have foreign driver’s licenses you will need to add $5/driver/day to the quote which might knock them out of the top five.
- Hippie Campers ($105) is fifth but they do not accept drivers under 21.
$92 a day split 2 or 3 ways for transport and accommodation is a very affordable way to see Australia. Some of the hightops above will fit a third adult or a child. And nothing beats the freedom of hitting the road and going where your fancy takes you.
I wish you happy travels!