Our car rental recommendation in Iceland: Blue Car Rental

[Update August 2017: We’ve partnered with Blue to provide our readers a 5% discount on their rental. Read below to see why we recommend you rent from Blue. Then see the discount details here: Blue Car Rental discount.]

I don’t know how many car rental companies there are in Iceland– 100? It’s tough to tell, since some of them are just agents and don’t have their own fleet of vehicles. Choosing one is really hard; there are a lot of horror stories out there.

After dozens of hours of research, we decided to rent from Blue Car Rental. Now, there are other companies out there that will most likely provide you with a positive experience. But here are the reasons we have been impressed with Blue (and some minor quibbles); you can use this to judge them against other options.

  • Will the company guarantee you a new rental car? When I rent a car in the United States, this isn’t really a consideration– I just assume I’ll be getting a car that’s less than 3 years old. But in Iceland, you could be getting a 10 year old car; the slightly cheaper price may not be worth it. If you look at the list of all of Blue’s cars, they list one older model 4X4, which they will only rent in the summer. Every other car is from model year 2015 or 2016.

new cars

  • How much insurance is included? Almost all rental car companies in Iceland include basic CDW insurance. (Note that this included insurance may void your credit card insurance; we recommend third party excess insurance as a cheap extra.) Every rental with Blue includes much more insurance than any other rental company:
    SCDW just means your out of pocket maximum will be lower. The maximum is about $750 for 2 wheel drive cars (90,000 krona) and about $990 (120,000 krona) for 4 wheel drive cars. Most other companies set the CDW limit to $2,000 or more, and charge you $10 a day or more to lower that level. TP is theft protection. Honestly, I’ve never heard of a rental car being stolen in Iceland? But Blue gives you the coverage for free.GP is gravel protection. If your car suffers minor damage from gravel thrown up by other cars, you don’t owe anything. Again, other companies can charge $10 or $15 a day for this.
  • How much do child car seats cost? Blue provides booster seats for kids free of charge. And safety car seats for younger kids cost a fixed fee of 4000 krona, or about $33. For a short rental, that car seat cost could be expensive. But for a longer rental, which I think is more common, this can be cheaper than a per day fee.
  • How is their customer service? Blue has been responsive to all of my e-mails, which I appreciate. But how do they respond to a customer with an issue? Lucky for you readers, we did have an issue, because I didn’t take my own advice. And they took care of it. If you have a big family, as we do, remember that many 7 or 8 passenger vehicles will have almost no trunk / storage space behind the third row of seats. I knew this, and ordered a roof rack for our Land Cruiser. But even with that, there was no way we were all fitting in the car with our luggage. Blue found me a car that worked for us– and it’s not an easy feat to change the vehicle type for a 45 day rental on the spot. Here was what they found for us:car traficIt was nearly brand new and served us very well as we explored the country.
  • Are studded snow tires included? Okay, we didn’t have snow tires on our summer rental. But if you rent in the winter, Blue guarantees studded snow tires. It’s right on the home page:
    By law, they have to give you regular snow tires. But guaranteeing the studs gives you an extra layer of safety. Blue doesn’t have to do this, but it’s nice to know they do; it makes me think they strive to make sure their customers have a positive experience.

Just to be complete, here are a few things that could be improved, or really just things to know:

  • The infant car set we received did not use ISOFIX, so we had to attach it using the seat belt. I haven’t seen other rental car companies in Iceland offering ISOFIX either, and we were able to install the car seat safely. But since all new vehicles since 2013 are required to have ISOFIX attachment points, it would be nice to have a car seat that could utilize them.
  • Blue will charge you a 2500 krona (about $20) fee to pick you up at Keflavik Airport. But, it’s about a 4 minute walk to their office. (They say 3, but I’m adding a minute to walk over with kids and luggage.) To their credit, Blue has a nice map that shows you how to walk to their office from the airport (and you still may find this old video of the walking instructions useful!) And I get that they need to send a person to the airport to pick you up, and that costs money and time. Still, $20 for the short ride seems like a lot.
  • You are still responsible for damage. This is specific to Iceland, not to Blue at all. But you may be used to rental car returns where they don’t really even look for damage. Damage to the car is much more likely in Iceland, and they will do a thorough inspection when you return the car. Make sure you note any damage when you pick up the car; it seems prudent to take some photos or a video. Like any other car rental company in Iceland, Blue will charge you for damage not covered by the insurance.

But those are minor quibbles. There is no additional fee to walk to the rental office; if you have a lot of small kids and multiple adults, you can send one adult over to pick up the car.

Overall, Blue will rent you a newer model car at a reasonable price. It may not be the cheapest option in Iceland, but it’s not that far off. And you’ll have extra insurance built in, a new car, and a very high likelihood of a pleasant experience.

Disclosure: Blue provided us a discounted rate on our 45 day rental. But we still paid for the rental, and our discussion here is not influenced by the discount.

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Our car rental recommendation in Iceland: Blue Car Rental was last modified: January 16th, 2018 by Eric