Oxford is exceptional in lots of ways, but car hire is not one of them. The city has the usual roster of international rental companies - Hertz, Avis, Europcar and so on. Most are on the city fringes, or in the area around the train station/Osney Business Park.
However where it does stand out, is in the option of using Car Clubs and Car Sharing Schemes. There are several good ones, and they're very useful!
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Since the counterpart driving licence was abolished in 2015, you no longer need one to rent a car (hooray!). Instead, rental companies may ask you produce a code so that they can check your licence for penalty points. You'll need your licence number, postcode and National Insurance Number. Each code is valid for 21 days.
As a general rule, no rental company will let you hire a car if you're under 21 or have held a licence for less than a year (some even prohibit rentals up to the age of 25: boy racers beware). Some require two proofs of address and almost all charge under-25s a young person surcharge. Annoyingly, this can often cost more than the rental itself. Trust me, I'm 24.
Unit 1, Oxford Business Park, Osney Lane, Oxford OX1 1TB. Map
Tel: 0844 544 6087 (local rate from a landline)
Open: Mon-Fri 08:00-18:00, Sat 08:00-16:00
Nearest hire point to central Oxford (down Becket Street, just past the train station long-stay car park). Most cars are over-23 only; some cars are over-25 only. Credit or debit cards accepted (though not Switch, Electron or any pre-pay cards). Bring your passport or another form of ID too just in case. The vehicle needs to be returned with a full tank. As with Hertz, they will hold a deposit roughly equivalent to a full tank's worth of fuel until the vehicle is returned. They have a key drop facility for out-of-hours returns. Return to any nationwide branch for a variable fee (the farther away, the larger the fee).
Unit 1, Oxford Business Centre, Osney Lane, Oxford OX1 1TB (next to Avis). Map
Tel: 0344 544 8468
Open: Mon-Fri 08:00-18:00, Sat 08:00-13:00
One of the cluster of rental agencies around the corner from the train station. Over-23s only; some vehicles over-25. Accepts credit cards and Visa debit cards only.
Car Rental UK
A website that compares and contrasts local car hires, to help you find the best one for your needs.
53 West Way, Botley, OX2 0JE (map) & 10 Watlington Rd, Cowley OX4 6NF (map)
Tel: BOTLEY 01865 202088, COWLEY 01865 396000 (press 3 to speak to a human on site).
Open: Mon-Fri 08:00-18:00, Sat 09:00-16:00, Sun 11:00-16:00
Over 25 only. Vans (up to long wheelbase hightops) and cars. Retail rentals require 2 proofs of address (utility bills or similar). Debit or credit card only; security deposit (needs to be on the card of the named driver). Fuel is like-for-like (ie. if it's half full when you get it, return it half full). Return to any branch for a fee (larger according to type of drop off and distance from collection point.
Pony Road, Horspath Trading Estate, OX4 2RD. Map
Tel: 01865 715500
Open: Mon-Fri 07:30-17:30, Sat 08:00-12:00, Sun & Bank Hols 08:00-09:30
Over 23-year-olds (and under 70-year-olds) only. Some cars and all vans are over-25s only. Cars, minibuses, vans (including Lutons and extra long wheel base) and trucks. Credit/debit card (excluding Solo, Electron and AmEx). Natty little Fiat 500s for hire; 'continental hire' kits; servicing and body repair available and 'a man with your van' should you need one! Rates are 'all inclusive' with 'no hidden extras'.
Littlemead Business Park, Ferry Hinkey Road, Oxford OX2 0BY. Map
Tel: 0371 384 5974
Open 7 days a week. Monday - Friday 8am to 6pm, Saturday 8am to 4pm, Sunday 9am to 4pm. Over 22 only, no upper limit (under 25s incur daily fee).
Pick up out of hours possible (extra fee). Free bike storage.
Osney Mead, Ferry Hinksey Road, Oxford OX2 0ES. Map
Tel: 0843 309 3059
Open: Mon-Fri 08:30-17:30, Sat 09:30-12:30
Security deposit will be held on credit/debit card. If you return the vehicle with a tank that's not full you will be charged for refuelling at double the standard pump rate. You can return to any national Hertz office (eg. hire in Oxford, drive to Edinburgh and return there) for a standard fee.
Free delivery and collection
Tel: 0500 053 899
Open: Mon to Fri: 8am to 6pm, Saturday: 8am to 5pm, Sunday: 10am to 5pm
Northgate Vehicle Hire
Unit 7, North Hinksey Lane (off Botley Rd), OX2 0NR. Map
Tel: 01865 244477
Open: Mon-Fri 08:00-17:30, Sat 08:00-12:00
Local company offering cars, vans and MPVs plus some trucks. Over 21s only for cars; over 25s only for larger cars and vans. Debit and credit cards accepted, but two proofs of address required. Return to same venue only (they are regional, not national). Full to full fuel policy. Security deposits required for all rentals.
Thriftly Van and Car Hire
Electric Avenue, Ferry Hinksey Road, Osney Mead Industrial Estate, Oxford OX2 0BY. Map
Tel: 01865 250252
Open: Mon-Fri 08:30-17:30, Sat 08:00-16:00, Sun 09:00-16:00
Over-21 only. Both credit and debit cards accepted. Rentals may be returned with a full, empty or half-full tank and will be charged accordingly.
Co-wheels (formerly Commonwheels) is a social enterprise with a fleet of cars (including some electric vehicles!) available for loan to members in East Oxford, Cowley, Headington and Iffley. They're all parked in marked bays on local streets. Members can book the cars online or over the phone for periods upwards of half an hour and are charged (by monthly invoice) according to the length of booking and distance travelled. Rates include fuel. Members each get a smart card to open the car when they have a booking. As demand increases, we are told that the fleet will too, ensuring that cars continue to be available for last minute bookings. You need to have held a full licence for one year to join. All locations and details of tariff are on the website. If you'd like Co-wheels in your area, or would like to join the existing scheme, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Zipcar also have cars in Oxford, including (unlike Co-wheels) some cars in North Oxford and off the Botley Road. The club works on a similar basis to Co-wheels.
For info about Lift-sharing websites see here.
If someone you use is missing from this page, please email and let us know: email@example.com