Israel Car Rental is very similar to renting a car in most Western countries. Since the country is relatively small and the distances between points short, you can travel to most destinations by car quite easily. Most of the major International companies like Hertz, Budget, and Avis provide car rental in Israel. Their base rates are comparable to rates in most other countries in the U.S. and Europe.
Top Tip: Book your car rental online below before you travel and save yourself time and money.
Israel Car Rental Top Tips and Recommendations
- Rent a GPS with the car that will supply you with directions in English. If you have a smart phone with a data plan, you can just download the Waze app, which provides great GPS and real-time traffic info. The Israeli street signs in my opinion are not well posted and difficult to read especially when people are honking at you.
- Make sure the designated driver is at least 24 years old. You can add additional drivers but the cost will increase.
- Bring a clear pictured valid driver’s license in English or an international driver’s license. I recommend getting an international license only if you want to rent a large 8-10 passenger van because a standard D.L. issued in the States does not specifically allow for large vans with over 8 passengers.
- If you can show a valid foreign passport (not Israeli), you do not have to pay the hefty 18% VAT (Value Added Tax for Israeli citizens only).
- Gasoline in Israel is currently about $7/gallon or 7.52 New Israeli Shekels (NIS) / liter so plan your trips carefully.
- Inspect the vehicle thoroughly for any and all existing damages. If you don’t, the company will charge you when you return the vehicle! I remember my first Israel car rental experience. They brought out my vehicle and I immediately noticed huge dents and scratches on the front fender. Of course, I requested a ‘good car’. The reply was ‘This is a good car’ and they weren’t kidding! You may not get a car in perfect condition – just make sure you document every imperfection before signing off. This in not uncommon for most Israeli car rental companies.
- Israel car rental is cheaper if you order online – just make sure you can pick the vehicle up at the car rental desk in the airport.
Top Tip: Make sure you have a hands free device for your cell phone. It is illegal in Israel and dangerous to talk or text on your phone while driving without one.
Israel Car Rental Insurance
Please pay close attention here because this is a tricky one and very expensive in Israel. The cost of the insurance can exceed the price of the rental if you are not careful. Most tourists just pay it not knowing that they have options and, believe me, the rental companies will not go out of their way to educate you.
I am going to help you save a lot of money here so read this carefully.
There are two types of insurance:
- LDW: Limited Damage Waiver which is mandatory and must be purchased through the rental car company. This will cost approximately 40% of the rate. Yes, a $200 weekly rental of a basic economy car will cost an additional $80 for basic liability coverage. You have no choice with this one.
- C.D.W. and T.P. Collision Damage Waiver and Theft protection which we refer to simply as comprehensive. This will add at least another $10-15 per day to the price and may be waived depending on your credit card company. Should you choose to take the C.D.W. and T.P. coverage through your credit card company, it is your responsibility to notify the credit card company and verify its terms and conditions of coverage. Most of them will cover you and you DO NOT need to take this insurance, but check anyway. Any damage to the undercarriage or tires of the vehicle is not covered with any insurance.
Top Tip: Bring a letter or documentation from your credit card company to the sales counter stating the extent of their coverage for Israel. It is often different than coverage within the States or Europe. That is another good reason to book online as you can bypass the hassle of someone trying to sell you insurance that you don’t need.
Please note – that by not taking collision damage waiver (CDW) insurance, you (the lessee), and not the credit card company, are initially responsible for any damage or loss to the vehicle. All related expenses will be charged to you on your credit card, but the credit card company will re-reimburse you so in the end it will cost you nothing and save you a lot.
A few exceptions to note:
- Insurance coverage is not valid outside the borders of the State of Israel, Tabah and territories of the Palestinian Authority.
- Insurance does not cover loss of personal belongings.
Driving in Israel
If you are not used to aggressive driving, prepare yourself. From my personal experience, it is like driving in most major cities like New York. The drivers are quite aggressive and impatient, especially if you find yourself slowing down to read street signs looking for your destination. Most street signs are posted in Hebrew, English, and Arabic., but not very well placed in my opinion.
- If you have a smartphone, download a GPS app like Waze – this will make it a whole lot easier to get around.
- Traffic lights are abundant inside the main cities, and are scarcely found on highways. Americans should note there is no right turn on red!
- The major toll road in Israel is highway number 6 and the toll is collected electronically according to your license plate number. Since the car belongs to the rental company, they will charge your credit card for all charges plus a service fee. Road 6 will save you lots of time and is worth the cost. Sometimes you can negotiate the service fee with the Israel car rental company.
- It is fairly common in smaller towns for traffic lights to be replaced by traffic circles or roundabouts (Kikar in Hebrew). The car to the left always has the right of way. Make sure to always slow down when approaching one.
- While driving you may see a police car with flashing rollers. Don’t panic, this just means they’re on duty and they are not necessarily trying to pull you over.
- Don’t be surprised to see random police stops on the roadside. They can request you to pull over for a random roadside inspection. They will ask to see your license and vehicle information. If you speak to them in English, they will usually be extra polite and understanding.
Israel Car Rental: Traffic and Parking Signs
|Triangular – Warning signs. Obviously pay special attention to these.|
|Circular Speed Limit – The speed limit is 50 kmh or 31 MPH on this road. This is also the standard speed limit in any urban area.|
|Directional Square – Distance to the destination in kilometers|
|Red and white stripes on the curb – no parking|
|Blue and white stripes on the curb – parking is allowed only with a parking ticket which you can purchase at an automated machine nearby. This applies mainly to larger cities only.|
|Red and yellow stripes on the curb – public transportation only, no stopping or parking allowed.|
More about Israel Travel Secrets.
Ne-higah Ne’eemah! (Have a pleasant drive in Hebrew)