How to Get a Cheaper Rental Car in Tonga
Stretch your Pa’anga a little further in Tonga by saving money on car rental! Saving money on car rental can only be a good thing, so you can spend more on the things that matter, like whale swimming, scuba diving or another pint of Tongan beer? From daily rental rates to the Visitor’s Driving Licence, there are a few easy ways to save money on car rental in Tonga. We’ll show you how in the list below!
1. Choose a Small Car
Small cars are the cheapest type of cars to rent in Tonga, ranging in daily rates from TOP$35 to TOP$70! Considering you’ll rarely be driving more than 50km (30 miles) a day on roads with speed limits at a maximum of 70km/h (40mph), you don’t need to worry about getting the most fuel-efficient vehicle. On top of that, many car rental agreements in Tonga don’t allow you to go off the sealed roads, so often, paying extra for a 4WD or a vehicle with high clearance is futile. A small car will usually do. That being said, of course, if you have too many passengers for a small car, it make sense to upgrade. Take a look at more daily rates in Tonga in How Much Does it Cost to Rent a Car in Tonga?
2. Look Out for Weekly Deals
The standard price for car rentals in Tonga is based on a daily rate. However, some car rental companies offer discounts for multi-day hires. Deals we’ve seen include “Hire for seven, pay for five” and free accommodation/airport dop-offs for multi-day hires. Look out for these deals or be sure to ask when booking.
3. Compare Tonga’s Car Rental Companies
Don’t just go with the first car rental company you see. Tonga has a small selection of car rental companies – around 10 in Tongatapu and less than five in Vava’u. Therefore, comparing companies is typically easy to digest and get prices. Although we compare as many vehicle rental companies as possible in The Best Car Rentals in Tongatapu and The Best Car Rentals in Vava’u, note that some do not advertise prices unless you call or email them.
4. Play With Your Booking Dates for Cheaper Rates
Admittedly, this is not going to work with local car rental companies, which tend to have set rates, but international car rental companies like Avis have different prices depending on your pick-up date. What we’ve found is that booking a car closer to your pick-up date is much cheaper than booking a vehicle super far in advance. Something that applies to several car rental companies in Tonga, however, are “low season deals”. The low season in Tonga is typically between November and May, so ask for low season deals when booking.
5. Choose Airport Drop-Off
If you want a car rental as soon as you land in Tongatapu or Vava’u, then it makes financial sense to have the vehicle dropped off at the airport. Car rental drop-off rates are typically the same as getting a taxi or booking an airport transfer, so you might as well kill two birds with one stone and get the car dropped off at the airport. Check out airport transfer costs in Tonga here.
6. Go Through the Car Inspection Thoroughly
This is super important in order to not retrieve nasty fees for damages to the vehicle that you did not cause. Upon pick-up, go around the vehicle with the car rental staff and point out all the damages you see. Many of the car rentals in Tonga are in old vehicles, so chances are, there will be a lot of wear and tear! Don’t be shy, point out all of the current dents and scratches and make sure the staff write them down on the car rental agreement.
7. Know the Road Rules in Tonga
Hardly any of the car rental companies in Tonga offer insurance. You are liable for any of the damages caused to the vehicle. For this reason, and for your own safety and the safety of others, you should become seriously acquainted with the road rules in Tonga. That way, you lessen the risk of crashes. Check out How to Drive in Tonga and 10 Safety Tips for Driving in Tonga for some road rules to know.
8. Take the Car Back with a Full Tank of Fuel
Like anywhere in the world, if you don’t return the vehicle with the same amount of fuel as when you picked up the vehicle, you’ll be charged for the fuel you owe on top of a pricey fee. Gas stations are available in Nuku’alofa, Neiafu and a few of the villages around Tongatapu. They are also fully serviced, so tell the attendant how much you want to fuel up.
9. Get the Visitor’s Driving Licence on Your Own
[Update: It is no longer mandatory for all visitors to purchase a Visitor’s Driving Licence. However, some visitors may still need to, so check out our guide on How to Get a Tonga Visitor’s Driving Licence for updates.]
One way to save TOP$10-$20 is to get your own Visitor’s Driving Licence in Tonga. In order to legally drive in Tonga, you need a Visitor’s Driving Licence. This is easy to pick up yourself, either from the Ministry of Infrastructure building in Nuku’alofa or at the Police Station in Vava’u. In fact, you can follow our whole guide in How to Get a Tonga Visitor’s Driving Licence. Buying it yourself will cost around TOP$40 while buying it through a car rental company comes with an extra fee.
More Ways to Save Money on Car Rental in Tonga
That’s it for the ways to save money on car rental in Tonga. Get more budgeting advice from The Travel Guide to Tonga on a Budget and Tonga Travel Budget: How Much Does a Trip to Tonga Cost?