(Updated January 2020: RentalCars.fo is now named Arctic Rental Cars. They are the company we rented with, and their name has been changed below.)
Renting a car can be a great way to explore the Faroe Islands. The islands are small enough that you can get anywhere in well under a day, though some of those trips might involve a ferry or two. And the roads are generally well-labeled and easy to navigate.
But there are lots of little quirks when you are renting a car here. We’ll get to those in a second. Before we dive in, consider if you actually need to rent a car or not. Because the Faroe Islands are so small, you can consider just staying in Tórshavn and taking guided day trips. You’ll do some backtracking heading back to the same place every night. But the savings on a rental car will go a long way toward paying for those guided day trips, especially if you’re traveling solo. If you opt for this route, we like and recommend MM Tours.
Faroe Islands rental car fees, deposits, and quirks
There are lots of quirks about car rental in the Faroe Islands; fortunately, most of them are standardized among all of the rental companies. Here are the main ones:
Car Rental Insurance in the Faroe Islands
Most rental companies include a base level of CDW, a Collision Damage Waiver. (Not all companies call it CDW, but that seems to be the standard phrase.) If there is damage to the car, this will limit your liability to around 7000 DKK. That’s a little over $1,000 US or a little over €930. (Limits can be more or less than this, but they seem to range from 6500 to 9800.) That’s still a lot of money to pay if something goes wrong. But, most rentals include this as a “free” benefit. And serious damage to a rental car could easily cost 10 times more than that.
A few companies charge extra just to get this base level of CDW protection. Sixt is one example. This can add a good bit of money to the advertised “total” price. So make sure you’re comparing comparable levels of insurance.
Paying for extra SCDW insurance
You can usually pay for what’s known as SCDW, or a Super Collision Damage Waiver. For a fee of roughly 100 DKK per day, you can lower your maximum out of pocket limit to 1000 DKK. Again, prices vary, but this is the general idea.
Is it worth it? From a logical standpoint, no. If you rent a car for a week, you’re paying 700 DKK extra for SCDW, assuming 100 DKK per day. Let’s say that lowers your liability by 6000 DKK, from 7000 to 1000. This doesn’t work out in your favor unless you have damage to your rental car, and in fact damage of at least 1700 DKK.
So 95% of the time you’re out an extra 700 DKK, and 5% of the time you save up to 6000 DKK. This only works in your favor if there’s about a 10% chance of ending up with 7000 ISK or more in damage to your rental car. I don’t know the real figure, but my guess is it’s closer to the 2% range.
But, like any insurance, you’re paying extra for the peace of mind. Ending your vacation with a 7000 DKK charge on the way out would leave a bad taste in your mouth. A bad taste you can (mostly) avoid for 700 DKK.
Excess rental car insurance in the Faroe Islands
Another option is to purchase excess rental car insurance from a third party. I like Worldwide Insure for the Faroe Islands. In fact, I like them for just about any country, except those where they don’t offer coverage: Armenia, Dominican Republic, Iceland and Jamaica. For about half the price of the rental car SCDW insurance, you’ll lower your out of pocket maximum to about 650 DKK.
What about your credit card insurance?
Note that your credit card insurance likely will not pay for damage if you accept the CDW offered by the rental car company. Most credit card agreements clearly state that you must decline any insurance offered by the rental car company in order for their policy to be in effect.
Many people choose to decline the CDW from the rental car company in order to use their credit card. I don’t like this, since I’d rather pay a little more to know I have insurance that will definitely work. Make sure you read the fine print on your credit card company; many have exclusions based on the value of the rental car, for example.
Declining the CDW and going with your credit card can be a good option if you have a premium travel credit card. Still, read the fine print.
Car rental deposits in the Faroe Islands
Some car rental companies charge a hefty deposit when you rent your car. This deposit can pay for toll tunnel charges, which are usually automatically billed to your license plate. More on this later. The rental car company can also keep part or all of the deposit when there is damage to your car.
Most deposits are around 1500 or 2000 DKK. This seems annoying to me, but I don’t think it’s a deal-breaker. Companies already have your credit card information, and they can easily add a charge at the end of the rental.
For my sample week-long booking, Avis wanted to charge me a deposit of 12050 DKK. That’s outrageous, and I recommend you avoid Avis in the Faroe Islands. (They also only have 1 star ratings on Google.)
On the positive side, RentYourCar.fo confirmed that they do not charge any deposits. Several other companies also appear to not charge deposits.
Almost all companies offer unlimited mileage with your rental. But a few set a limit of 100 km per day to get the lowest price. Avis and Budget are 2 of the companies with this limit; another reason to avoid Avis!
Age of rental cars in the Faroe Islands
The cheapest car rental price might lead you to an older, run-down car. Most companies seem to have newer cars, but I like to see that specifically mentioned on their web site. For example, RentYourCar.fo says: “All our cars are 2018/2019 models and in most cases you get the fresh smell of a new car.” And Arctic.fo says: “Most of our cars are from 2019.”
Subsea tunnel tolls in the Faroe Islands
There are two toll tunnels in the Faroe Islands. Here’s a map; the tunnels both end in “tunnilin”:
One you will almost definitely drive through Vágatunnilin (at least twice!) since it connects the Vagar airport to the capital city Tórshavn. You may also head through the other, Norðoyatunnilin, though that depends on your travel planning.
The tunnels each cost 100 DKK per return trip / roundtrip; technically, you are only charged 100 DKK heading one direction. You may see signs as you drive that tell you to pay at a nearby gas station, but every car rental company I’ve seen says that they will bill you directly. No need to pay at the gas stations.
Almost all rental car companies will offer you the option to pay a fixed fee for unlimited toll tunnels. The typical offering will be 80 to 100 DKK per day for unlimited tunnel usage. The math is pretty easy to figure out here; if you’re going to do a subsea tunnel on average every day, then it makes sense to pay for unlimited usage. But in general I don’t think it is worthwhile.
A few companies may offer a fixed price per rental, instead of a per day charge. This can be a better option to save a little bit of money.
A surprising number of rental car companies don’t offer online booking. You can usually see general prices by type of car and time of year. But then you have to e-mail them for a quote. For a summer trip, I e-mailed a company to ask for a price. Two days later, they wrote back to say they didn’t have any cars left. Unless I find an exceptional company, I’m likely to only rent from places that allow me to see all of the options and book online.
Rental car office location
Two more minor points before we dive into price. Almost all rental car companies in the Faroe Islands have offices at or near the airport. A few, such as Bilrøkt, only offer pickup in Tórshavn.
Some companies claim to be “near the airport” but their offices are in Miðvágur, about a 5 minute drive from the airport. This isn’t the end of the world, since these companies usually offer a free shuttle service. But I think it’s a little bit nicer to not have to worry about the extra step of taking a shuttle.
Vagar Airport Fee
There is a fee charged for the convenience of picking up at the airport. This fee seems to be in the 200-300 DKK range per rental. The fee is what it is. But some companies don’t include it in their fees until you get close to the end of the process. I’d rather rent from someone who lists all fees up front, though it’s not a dealbreaker.
The cheapest car rental option for the Faroe Islands?
Okay, now on to price. When I’m deciding who to rent from, price is of course important. But it’s not everything. If the cheapest option charges a massive deposit, for example, I’m jnlikely to choose them. If I’m lucky the cheapest option will end up looking good on lots of the criteria above. And that’s exactly what happened to me.
I’m looking for a rental car from October 20-27, 2019. This is the off-season in the Faroe Islands; summer prices will be much higher. Here are the cheapest prices from Make.fo for a 7 day trip:
|Time of year:
|Price per day:
|June – August
|October – March
By the way, it looks like these fees are going up dramatically for 2020. But for now, note that the summer is about double the off-season. So my late October experience might be very different compared to the summer. I’ll look again in the summer of 2020.
But for now, here is the cheapest car I found from companies with online quotes:
(Note that these prices can and do change constantly.) Arctic is the cheapest option, with RentYourCar.fo a close second. And RentYourCar doesn’t charge a deposit, while Arctic does. Both look like good options, though Arctic claims to have new cars, and RentYourCar.fo doesn’t explicitly say a model year.
But I’d prefer an automatic transmission; I can drive manual, but it’s not pretty. Here’s how the cheapest automatic transmission car prices stacked up:
Now, Arctic is the clear leader; no one else is even close. They stack up pretty well given all of my criteria above: The office is in the airport, they list almost every fee up front (except for the 150 DKK “registration fee”, which seems a little odd.), and you can book everything online. They offer unlimited mileage on all rentals. Their insurance prices and CDW limits are reasonable. The one major downside: a 1490 DKK deposit. But some of that will go toward tolls, and the price difference more than makes up for it.
I’ll update this post after my rental with Arctic, and again with a summer 2020 price comparison. Or if you find anything that needs to be corrected or updated; please let me know.
I’d also love if you comment with your rental car experience, good or bad. Let’s make sure tourists visiting the Faroe Islands have the best experience possible! Thanks.