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Ready to hit the road? Whether you’re picking up furniture, dropping off a friend at the airport, or taking the road trip of a lifetime, having access to a reliable car is essential. If you don’t have your own car, you have two options – rent one or borrow one.

Renting means getting your wheels through an official UK car rental service and paying up. But if you know someone with a car they’re willing to let you borrow, you might be able to get away with just covering fuel costs – talk about budget-friendly!

And with temporary car insurance policies like Zixty, it’s easier than ever to borrow your friend’s car and arrange the cover you need in minutes.

It’s important to weigh up the pros and cons of each option before deciding which one works for you. So buckle up because we’re about to take an in-depth look into renting vs borrowing a car in the UK.

Person in orange with blue car and trees and sun in the background.

Rent or borrow a car? A summary of the pros and cons

If you’re in a rush, check out our handy table summing up the most important points from the article below.

Renting vs Borrowing 



Renting a car 

You’ll have a wide range of options.  It can get expensive. It’s the pricier option. 
You’ll usually get a newer, cleaner, better serviced car.  Extra charges can sneak up on you; read the fine print. 
Car insurance is included;you don’t have to shop around. You might not get the car you need due to admin errors. 

Borrowing a car 

It’s cheaper than renting – all you need is fuel.  Your friend’s car might not be as well serviced or as clean as you want. 
It can be more flexible; your friend won’t mind if you’re a little late or need to cancel. Your friend might need to cancel last minute if they end up needing the car. 
You’ll join the sharing economy, and do your bit for the planet by sharing resources efficiently.  You’ll need to arrange your own insurance, for example temporary car insurance. 
Man with blue hatchback car with trees and the sun in the background

UK car rentals: What are the pros and cons of renting a car?

Thinking about renting a car, and checking out the UK car rental market? Sometimes you need access to a decent motor for a few days. Not all of us have friends who can part with their own ride for that long, so borrowing might not always be an option. 

But what are the pros and cons of using a UK car rental company? Let’s explore them.

PRO: You’ll have a wide range of options 

One of the biggest advantages of renting a car is that you have so many choices – it’s like going to an all-you-can-eat buffet! You can take your pick from electric cars to hybrids to larger SUVs if you need the space. Whatever your needs, you’ve got plenty of choice and don’t have to make do with your dad’s old banger.

PRO: You’ll usually get a newer, cleaner and better serviced car

Let’s face it: whether you rent or you borrow, you get what you pay for. You could take the road trip of a lifetime in your BFF’s pasta sauce-stained, barely roadworthy banger that reeks of carbonara and comes with some rather questionable bumper stickers to boot.

Or, you could pay for a rental and drive a clean, serviced car, with no dodgy bumper stickers in sight. Can’t say we’d blame you if you picked option two in this scenario.

PRO: With UK car rentals, you can compare quotes online and book quickly

It’s easy peasy to get the wheels you need for your upcoming adventure. Just pop online, compare quotes, and you’ll be ready to wheel around in no time safe in the knowledge that you’ve got the best rates. So, you don’t have to stress about finding the best deal – just book online and hit the road Jack.

PRO: Car insurance is included in the price

If you opt for a UK car rental, you’ll probably get at least third-party cover. And if you’re not happy with the level of cover, you can usually pay to upgrade. This means you won’t need to arrange your own car insurance policy to drive the car.

CON: Renting a car can get expensive

Renting a car can get expensive. Especially if you’re booking a last-minute rental. Being organised and booking ahead can save you some major dough. Like, hundreds of pounds. And in some cases, you could get your rental for a third of the price.

But, if it’s an emergency situation, and you need to book fast, then you might end up paying through the nose. And, you’ll still be responsible for putting fuel in the car too. So that’s not great.

CON: Extra charges can sneak up on you

When it comes to renting a car, it’s super important to understand all the charges that might be included. For instance, there’ll usually be costs you’re on the hook for if you damage the car. There might be an excess you’re responsible for, plus a deposit.

Some providers might have additional charges, like petrol policies where you’re expected to pay the provider often inflated prices for a full tank of fuel if you return the car before you’ve had a chance to fill up.

Don’t get stuck with a surprise bill – make sure you read that fine print before you sign a car rental agreement.

CON: You might not get the car you want

Sometimes you might book the perfect car, turn up, and realise you’ve been assigned a different car altogether. It’s like going out for ice cream and getting a kale smoothie instead. Ew.

And it might be a simple admin error, but let’s face it – it’s still a bit of a bummer.

The car rental rep might offer a partial refund, of course. But that’ll be little solace when you’re forced to take a one-way trip to crammed, uncomfortable journeyville.

You could turn down the car of course, but that might not be an option if you need a ride ASAP. Unless you’re into hitchhiking.

Blue hatchback car with trees and the sun in the background

What are the pros and cons of borrowing a car?

Borrowing a car can be both convenient and economical, but there are some potential pitfalls that you should consider before doing so. Let’s explore the pros and cons of borrowing a car.

PRO: It’s cheaper than renting a car

If you’re looking to save some money on UK car rentals, borrowing a car from a mate is definitely the way to go. It’s basically free. Or, almost free. It’s good manners to return a borrowed car with a full tank of petrol. And maybe buy your friend a nice bottle of wine or chocolates to say thanks.

But given that some people pay £110 a day just to rent a car, you’ll probably still come out on top if you borrow.

PRO: It can be more flexible and convenient

When you rent a car, the rules sure can be tight! You may have to pick it up from one spot, and return it to another. Also, if you’re running behind schedule, you could end up paying an extra fee. Who needs that?

But if your friend lends you their ride for the day, chances are they won’t be quite so strict. They’ll probably understand if you’re stuck in traffic and need to drop off the car a bit later than expected.

Plus, if you change your mind about needing the car after all, then there’s no charge for that either when you borrow. Car rental companies might charge you cancellation fees.

PRO: You’ll join the sharing economy revolution and use resources effectively 

The sharing economy is all the rage these days with apps like Uber and AirBnB making a splash. But, it’s pretty simple: it’s all about sharing the resources you have and using them as efficiently as possible. 

So if your friend has a car you can borrow, and you borrow their car, congrats! You’re now part of the sharing economy. Bonus points if you find a way to ditch car ownership altogether.

CON: Your friend might need to cancel on you last minute

Borrowing a car from a friend is great and all, but you know what they say: Murphy’s Law. Just when you think you have everything sorted and ready to go, your mate might hit you with that dreaded “my bad” text because they need their car at the last minute. Yup, life happens and it can’t be helped!

It’s all good if you have another car to get around with or some other options. But if not, then things could get extra expensive. Especially if you’re hoping for a last-minute car rental.

CON: You’ll need to arrange your own car insurance policy

You’ll almost certainly need to arrange your own temporary insurance policy to cover yourself when driving someone else’s car — even if they already have insurance on their own policy.

Also, even if you have your own comprehensive car insurance policy with a Driving Other Cars (DOC) extension allowing you to drive other cars, this is usually only on a third-party basis and can be used in limited circumstances – generally emergencies.

You’ve got to make sure you have the right car insurance in place before taking any borrowed car out on the road as penalties for uninsured drivers can be heavy.

Blue car with trees and the sun in the background

What is car insurance for borrowing a car?

One of the best ways to get cover if you’re only borrowing your friend’s car for a little while is temporary car insurance.

Temporary car insurance is designed to be a fully featured car insurance policy – offering comprehensive cover. There are some important differences between comprehensive cover offered by short-term insurance and fully comprehensive insurance cover offered by annual policies. As is always the case, you need to check the details before buying.

But typically, a temporary car insurance policy will give you peace of mind and the cover you need to drive your friend’s car. Bonus points: if you need to claim, the No Claim Discount of the person who owns the car won’t be affected as you’ll have your own policy.

Borrow your friend’s car with Zixty’s  temporary car insurance policy

Zixty’s temporary car insurance policy is a great choice if you need to borrow a friend’s car. Once you download our app, it only takes a few minutes to arrange cover and hit the road.

Plus, our policies can last anywhere between an hour to a few weeks. As in, you don’t have to pay for cover you don’t need. So that’s a win. We have an optional breakdown cover add-on too, so you can get all your cover in one place.

But providing an awesome service comes as standard with us. And we like to go above and beyond. That’s why we have an optional free add-on called Zixty Miles. When you enable Zixty Miles, you can carbon offset all your journeys up to 100 miles a day every day while you’re a customer.

Yup, you can become a more eco-conscious driver just by taking out a temporary car insurance policy with Zixty. Is that another great reason to borrow a car rather than rent one? We think so.

Should I rent or borrow a car?

Should you rent or borrow a car? Let’s be real, borrowing is probably cheaper. And less stressful. So if you have a super generous friend or relative willing to part with their ride for a while, borrowing is a great choice. Especially with affordable temporary car insurance policies that offer the cover you need when you need it.

But, if you’re taking a long road trip and your friend can’t part with their car for that long, then renting could work too. UK car rental companies are generally reliable, if a little expensive. Just be prepared to shop around and read the fine print.

Both options have their pros and cons, so make sure to give it some thought before committing to either. Whether you rent or borrow, don’t forget to bring snacks! Road trips without snacks suck and that’s a fact.