Car Hire FAQs

All prices and fees quoted on this site are correct. However, our prices are regularly reviewed and are subject to change without notice.

Conditions for renting a vehicle are often bewildering and can lead to resentment when the invoice amount is reflected on the credit card. First Car Rental explains some of the most common areas of confusion from credit card deposits to car rental breakdown services.

  • Q: What methods of payment does First Car Rental accept?

    A: All vehicle renters are required to pay for their rental using a credit card or a cheque card if they are not travelling on a company account. First Car Rental accepts all major credit cards including American Express, Diners Card, MasterCard and Visa. We can either charge your credit card when you arrive at the rental kiosk for collection, or at the time of making your reservation online.

    Please make a note that the credit card holder has to be the renter of the vehicle, and, if reserving online, the same credit card used when making the reservation must be presented at the rental kiosk when collecting your vehicle.

    First Car Rental does not accept debit cards.

    As an added security feature introduced by various international banking institutions, transactions on credit cards issued outside South Africa will not be authorised by the issuing bank if the cardholder fails to inform them of their intention to travel to South Africa and the period concerned.

  • Q: Am I required to pay a deposit?

    A: When hiring a car from First Car Rental a 'Renter's Responsibility' deposit is required in the event of any loss or damage to the vehicle during the hire period. First Car Rental also requires renters to pay a fuel deposit, as well as the full rental amount at the start of the rental.

    First Car Rental operates a payment and authorisation system. This means that instead of one full amount being taken off the renter's credit card at the start of a rental, the amount is split into Payment & Authorisation amounts.

    The Payment Amount is the amount that is physically taken from the renter's credit card. It is calculated as follows: Fuel Deposit plus Full Rental (if not pre-paid) plus additional items, if applicable (e.g. toll fees, additional kilometres, baby seats, one way fees, cross border fees, etc.).

    The Authorisation Amount is the amount that is "held" by the credit card issuer, not physically taken off the credit card. It is the Renter's Responsibility amount (the maximum amount the customer will be liable for in the event of damage to, or theft of, the rental vehicle, unless one of the waivers set out in clause 5.3 of the terms of conditions of rental apply, in which event you may be held liable for the full extent of the damage to the vehicle)

  • Q: When will I get my deposit back?

    A: The Payment Amount - Once you return the rental vehicle, the difference between the balance owing (fuel and rental costs) and the payment amount taken will be refunded to your credit card within 48 hours after the contract termination date, provided there is no damage to the vehicle or toll transactions awaiting processing from SANRAL.

    Should the contract have attracted toll fees from SANRAL, then the payment amount will be refunded to you within 5 working days of the contract termination date. This is because SANRAL often delay electronic file sending.

    The Authorisation Amount ("Renter's Responsibility") is "held" by the card-issuing bank as an Authorisation on the credit card upon vehicle collection. This means that the Authorisation Amount is not removed from the credit card, it is just blocked. This Authorisation Amount is then automatically cancelled by First Car Rental when the rental contract is terminated, provided there is no damage to the vehicle.

    Please note that even though the instruction to release the credit card block is sent automatically and immediately, South African credit card issuing banks release the Authorisation Amount block, and this can take from 24 hours up to 7 working days.

  • Q: What is the minimum age to rent a car from First Car Rental?

    A: You should be 23 or older with a valid driver's licence card that you have held for 2 or more years. A Young Driver may be authorised if the driver's age is less than 23 years; this driver must have held a valid driver's license for a minimum of 3 years. A Young Driver will only be authorised to rent on prior agreed debtors accounts to which a per day Young Driver Fee will be applied.

  • Q: What type of driver's licence is accepted at First Car Rental?

    A: A valid South African driver's licence card or a valid international driver's licence with your passport will be accepted. An English translation is required for licenses recorded in a foreign language.

  • Q: What do you need to bring when you hire a car from First Car Rental?

    A: Please bring your Loyalty Card (if applicable), online booking voucher, your driver's licence card and your credit card. Please note that we may require additional methods of identification or conduct a security check to the Branch Manager's satisfaction for the following vehicle groups: D, E, Z, K, U, V, I, QA and YE.

  • Q: What is First Car Rental's Late Cancellation and No Show policy?

    A: Generally, First Car Rental charges a Cancellation & No Show Penalty fee if renters do not show up to collect their rental vehicle on the date and time specified when booking the vehicle. This fee is levied due to the fact that First Car Rental would have washed and prepared that vehicle and moved it from our depot to the pick-up location and there is no guarantee that they would find a replacement reservation to recover the loss of revenue. Therefore, we have introduced a fair and transparent guide that our staff use in the event our customers request a refund or when applying a penalty fee to the debtors account, which is directly related to the timeframe of notification of a cancellation and or no show.

    Please see below for a guide related to penalty fee’s that may be applied relevant to your booking Method of Payment.

    Reservations prepaid directly to First Car Rental via Credit Card:

    • Our booking system states that all prepaid reservations are non-refundable, but we will always consider the circumstances around the reservation and the cancellation timeframe thereof.
    • The following is the guide we work on to determine the penalty fee before refunds are processed:
      •  • 7+ days prior to arrival date - 10% of rental cost
      •  • 6 - 4 days prior to arrival date - 25% of rental cost
      •  • 3 - 1 days prior to arrival date - 50% of rental cost
      •  • 0 days prior to arrival date (same day) - 75% of rental cost
      •  • Returning the vehicle earlier than originally booked (Early termination) will result in 100% of rental cost for remaining non-used rental days.
      •  • Reservations in the Cape region between the peak rental period of 13 December - 3 January are subject to stricter Cancellation and No Show fees will result in 100% penalty of rental cost

    Reservations booked on a Debtors Account with First Car Rental:

    • First Car Rental charges a No Show penalty fee of R500 if renters do not show up to collect their rental vehicle on the date and time specified when booking the vehicle.
    • Reservations in the Cape region between the peak rental period of 13 December - 3 January are subject to stricter Cancellation and No Show fees. In this instance, the cancellation fee is 50% of the value of the rental where the reservation is cancelled in 7 days of less before the reserved collection date. Reconfirmation practices are in place well in advance though, which gives customers ample warning to cancel should they no longer wish to travel on the reserved dates and times. The No Show fee is 100% of the value of the rental.

  • Q: What is the cost for an additional driver and what is it for?

    A: A fee of R525 applies per additional driver per rental period. This is for risk and administration related costs for multiple drivers. Prices are subject to change without prior notification. Additional drivers must meet First Car Rental's age, experience and licence requirements, and must also be present at time of collection to sign the contract.

  • Q: What happens if you get traffic fines?

    A: The renter is liable for payment of all traffic fines. We charge a handling fee of R400 per traffic fine. This is charged to your credit card.

    We are the first car rental company in South Africa to be AARTO (Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences) compliant and are able to seamlessly relay renter and vehicle movement information to the authorities, allowing us daily updates of fines issued to renter vehicles across the country.

  • Q: Are there any hidden costs?

    A: No, none at all.

  • Q: When will my final invoice be ready?

    A: First Car Rental issues rental invoices immediately after the rental termination, provided there are no possible toll transactions awaiting processing from SANRAL. If contracts have accrued toll fees during their rental, they will be issued with an invoice 2 days after the rental termination.

    We will have all your previous rental activity available to you online at all times. Click here to access your rental information.

  • Q: What do you do in the event of an accident or breakdown?

    A: Once you have received medical attention, please contact First Car Rental immediately on our Emergency Roadside Assistance toll-free number 0860 888 911 (SA only). If outside of SA borders with a roaming cellphone, please dial +27 11 230 9920.

    The renter will be assisted in the following way:

    Message Relay Service
    First Car Rental will relay a message to a family member, friend or colleague anywhere in South Africa in the event of a breakdown or accident.

    Flat Tyre Assistance
    If the vehicle's spare tyre is inflated and serviceable, it will be installed to replace the flat tyre at the renter's expense. When a serviceable spare tyre is unavailable, towing will be provided, at the renter's expense.

    Battery Jump Start
    If the vehicle's battery is dead, the service provider will jump-start the vehicle at the renter's expense, unless the battery jump start was required due to mechanical failure.

    Vehicle Lockout Service
    In the event of keys being locked in the vehicle, a locksmith will be appointed to unlock the vehicle, at the renter's expense.

    Emergency Fuel Delivery
    If the vehicle runs out of fuel, a limited supply of fuel will be delivered to the renter to enable you to reach the nearest petrol station. (Cost of the fuel and delivery fee for the renter's account).

    Extrication/Winching Service
    If a vehicle becomes stuck, it will be extricated or winched as long as it is adjacent to a passable, established road or thoroughfare and can be safely reached from the hard road surface, at the renter's expense.

    Towing Service
    Sometimes a breakdown will occur at inconvenient locations. If the vehicle breaks down and requires towing, contact First Car Rental and we will appoint a towing operator to tow the vehicle to the nearest repairer, at the renter's expense. Towing may never be authorised by the renter.

    To find out more about Accident Procedures and Information, click here.

  • Q: Should I fill my car up with fuel before I return it?

    A: Optional. When a vehicle is returned to us at any one of our locations, we automatically top up the tank, irrespective of what the fuel gauge reflects. Your invoice will reflect the actual fuel amount. Should refuelling be required and exceeds the amount of R70, a Fuel Admin fee of R45 will be levied.

  • Q: What is First Car Rental's typical rental cycle?

    A: Our car rentals are charged in 24-hour cycles. Late return of vehicles will result in renters being charged for an additional day; for example, if a rental vehicle is collected at 9am on Monday and dropped back at 10am on Tuesday, the rental period is two days.

  • Q: How are kilometres driven charged?

    A: The rental rate you have chosen may include a specified amount of free kilometres a day. For example; if you get a rate with 100km free a day and you drive 150 km, you will be charged the 'per km rate' for the extra 50km only. The 'per kilometre' rate varies depending on the vehicle type.

  • Q: What if I want to extend my rental period?

    A: If you wish to extend the rental beyond the original return date, authorisation must be obtained from First Car Rental prior to the expiry of your rental agreement. Contact your branch directly. Failure to do so will result in First Car Rental reporting the car stolen and it immediately negates all waivers. Additional days will be charged directly to your credit card, at the extension rates.

  • Q: What is an airport surcharge and is this included in the rates?

    A: An 13% airport surcharge is applicable for all rentals from airports. This surcharge is included on final invoice for all rate structures and imposed on all rental companies by the Airports Company South Africa (Ltd) (ACSA).

  • Q: How much is the contract fee?

    A: Our contract fee is R120. This is an administration fee.

  • Q: What is a one-way fee?

    A: A one-way fee is charged when dropping off your hire car at a different branch to the one you first collected it from. One-way fees vary between R400 - R1500 depending on the pickup and return location combination. Please refer to the relevant price on step 2 of the quoting/booking process for your pick-up and drop-off branch combination.

  • Q: What are e-toll fees?

    A: E-Toll is the Electronic Toll Collection system in South Africa and was run by SANRAL (South African National Roads Agency SOC Limited), which is no longer in operational effective 11 April 2024 - all monies owing to SANRAL is however payable for all activity until this date.

  • Q: Are First Car Rental vehicles e-tagged?

    A: Yes, First Car Rental's entire fleet has been fitted with e-tags. This is to ensure that customers can easily pass through any Toll Gate without having to stop and make payment. We are the only major car rental company that chose to keep the e-tags to ensure convenience for our customers that wish to utilise the e-tag dedicated lane. It is imperative that renters do not use the E-Tag lane if they do not wish to be charged an administration fee. Renters can still utilise the normal non e-tag toll queue and pay by means of cash or card, but if they use the E-Tag gate they will be charged the toll fee and the admin fee.
    * We are running a 3 month trial given the risk that this initiative poses in recuperating funds from renters.

    Find out more about Tolls and E-tags, click here.

  • Q: What Optional Extras can I add to my rental?

    A: Below is a list of the optional extras offered by First Car Rental. Please note: Prices are subject to change without prior notification.

    Tyre Damage Waiver: R30 per day. Waiver excludes theft of tyres

    Windscreen Damage Waiver: R30 per day

    Hail Cover: R40 per day

    Baby or Child Seat: R500 per rental

    GPS: R140 per day (Excess - R2850)

    Fire Extinguisher: R450 per item

  • Q: What are the rules for crossing borders into other countries?

    A: First Car Rental permits some vehicle groups to cross the South African border into these countries: Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and Namibia. Vehicles are NOT permitted into Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe or Zambia.

    The following vehicle groups are not permitted to cross any of the following borders: Botswana and Namibia : E (SDAR), Z (FCAR), G (PDAR), L (LFAR). One-way car rentals to Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland or Namibia are not permitted.

    A letter of authorisation must be requested at the time of reservation for all cross-border travelling. On average, 4 days advance notification is needed as authorities require the original registration documents for all vehicles crossing this border.

    Unfortunately no cross-borders will be allowed (regardless of vehicle booked), for any renters holding a Passport and/or Driver's License from any of the countries listed below:

    •   • Angola
    •   • Botswana
    •   • DRC
    •   • Lesotho
    •   • Malawi
    •   • Mozambique
    •   • Nigeria
    •   • Swaziland
    •   • Tanzania
    •   • Zambia
    •   • Zimbabwe

    There are other cross-border rules as per individual country (see below), which are subject to change without notice at any time. Please contact the relevant authorities before driving abroad to find out what is required, or visit the AA's website here for a list of requirements.

    A penalty fee of up to R5000 may be levied by local authorities if the required documentation is not produced. First Car Rental will not be held responsible if a renter is refused entry into another country or for any penalties incurred if drivers fail to carry the required documents and items, as per individual country laws.

    As of March 2015, the following requirements must be met when travelling in the following countries:


    • A letter of authorisation from First Car Rental that gives the driver of the rental vehicle permission to cross the South African border.

    • ZA Sticker: Available from First Car Rental or at any AA Accredited Sales Agent store.

    • International Driving Permit: Recommended.


    • A letter of authorisation from First Car Rental that gives the driver of the rental vehicle permission to cross the South African border.

    • An affidavit from the police giving the rental driver authorisation from the vehicle owner (First Car Rental) to take the vehicle abroad.

    • ZA Sticker: Available from First Car Rental or at any AA Accredited Sales Agent store.


    • A letter of authorisation from First Car Rental that gives the driver of the rental vehicle permission to cross the South African border.

    • ZA Sticker: Available from First Car Rental or at any AA Accredited Sales Agent store.


    • A letter of authorisation from First Car Rental that gives the driver of the rental vehicle permission to cross the South African border.

    • An affidavit from the police giving the rental driver authorisation from the vehicle owner (First Car Rental) to take the vehicle abroad.

    • ZA Sticker: Available from First Car Rental or at any AA Accredited Sales Agent store.

    First Car Rental gives drivers the option of purchasing a cross-border pack at a cost of R800, containing all the required items, or sourcing the required items themselves.

    PLEASE NOTE: First Car Rental will not be held accountable for the lack of fuel availability in any country the driver of the vehicle enters. Should a vehicle need replacing, the renter may have to move the vehicle to the nearest SA border post. This cost is for the renter’s own account. Delivery of a replacement vehicle is subject to time and distance constraints and an extra fee. First Car Rental is not responsible for any costs that may be incurred at the South African border posts or by local governments. These include Commercial Vehicle Guarantee, permits, visas, import permits and toll fees.

    Please note: A non-refundable fee will be levied for vehicles crossing any of the below-mentioned permitted borders and is payable directly by the renter:

    CROSS BORDER FEE (Non-refundable)

    • Botswana | R2000

    • Lesotho | R1500

    • Namibia | R2200

    • Swaziland | R1300

  • Q: Why does First Car Rental charge cross border fees?

    A: The cost relates to the additional risk carried by First Car Rental having our vehicles cross the South African borders as well as the potential financial risk we carry in the event that a mechanical breakdown occurs outside the South African borders.

  • Q: What are waivers?

    A: Car hire companies do not offer insurance, they offer waivers. This is an important difference because many renters are under the illusion that they are purchasing insurance that will cover them for anything and everything including all wrong-doings.

    The main difference is that an insurance company will offer you full for cover in the event of an accident whether you are at fault or not and pay for your car damage and that of third party vehicles.

    Waivers are legal, compulsory agreements between the Rental Company and renters, and generally limit the claim against a renter in the event of loss of or damage to the vehicle.

    Most rental daily rates include all the waivers such as theft protection and collision damage waivers or similar. Many corporate companies have their own insurance and would then opt for an own cover rate option with a sales representative within a car rental company.

    Waivers are not honoured by car rental companies in the case of negligence such as driving under the influence of alcohol or illegal substances or not adhering to traffic, road and driving regulations, etc. This means that the customer will be held liable for the full amount of damage.

    When renting a car, ensure that your rental agreement includes a basic level of waivers so you are sufficiently covered in the event of an accident or theft. Always read the fine print on the car hire rental agreement terms and conditions to fully understand liability - most of these are available online prior to renting a vehicle from a reputable car rental company.

  • Waivers explained

    Please note that waivers differ between car hire companies so please ask the rental agent to explain in detail what you are covered for and always read the Rental Agreement terms and conditions.

    Should any of the waivers set out in clause 5.3 of the terms of conditions of rental apply, you may be held liable for the full extent of the damage to the vehicle.

    Collision Damage Waiver

    Should you be involved in an accident, you would be responsible for a specific amount as indicated on the rental agreement (called drivers responsibility or excess). This would include damage to the vehicle or part thereof, or cost of the damage repair, whichever is lower.

    If you decline this option when renting a car, this means you are liable for the full amount of damages incurred or the specified liability.

    Damage and Theft Waiver

    This is limited coverage for passenger liability and third party motor liability subject to terms and conditions. Cover for loss by fire is normally included as well as damages to the rental car but this may not include loss or damage through civil unrest.

    Super Collision Damage Waiver

    This means that you are liable for a minimal excess payment as a result of collision damage and alleviates you as the renter of the liability of the full cost of the repair or part thereof. Important to note is that if your rented vehicle is driven by someone other than yourself and that person is involved in an accident, you are fully responsible for damages incurred, so don't opt for this situation.

    Theft Loss Waiver

    In the event that your rented vehicle is stolen, you will be responsible for a certain amount as indicated on the rental agreement for the replacement of the vehicle.

    Super Theft Loss Waiver

    This is always a good option as it relieves you as the renter of any liability besides any excess payment arising out of the theft or part thereof.

First in Car Hire. First in Service.