Israel hotel/car rental question

Old Jan 13, 13, 11:38 am
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Israel hotel/car rental question

I am planning a family vacation to Israel, and I have a few questions:

1. Is booking hotels directly on the hotel's website the best option? We are staying mostly at Dan hotels, and they seem to have internet pricing. They offer a USD price without VAT (since VAT is not required to be paid by tourists). However, would it be cheaper to use a local travel agent, if the Shekel price (even with VAT) is a better deal for "locals"?

2. We are renting a car from Hertz. I have done a lot of searching regarding the insurance provided by credit card. It seems like Visa excludes Israel, so it would be necessary to get insurance from Hertz (which, incidentally, is almost the same price as the entire rental). But it sounds like maybe World MasterCard would work, assuming you printed it out to prove? Any experiences there?

3. Lastly, I understand there are toll roads in Israel. How does this work with rental cars from Hertz? Is this a license plate toll where you drive right through and get billed by Hertz later, or do you have to stop and pay? Do we need to ask for a transponder from Hertz?
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Old Jan 13, 13, 11:23 pm
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1. I have booked hotels directly through the hotel website but I know that sometimes when you book a tour package from a local company they may have better deals. As far as I know, VAT paid only by Israeli citizens - local or tourists alike;

2. I have seen on flyertalk discussion about World MasterCard covering insurance; you may want to search; The insurance on my Avis car was double the price of the rental.

3. I recently rented from Avis in TLV; I drove several times on highway 6 which is the toll road in Israel and cameras take a picture of when you enter the highway and when you leave and charge your license plate accordingly. Avis added a 15 NIS charge for the service of billing my credit card. From TLV north to Afula and back and then south to BeerSheva and back was around US$ 30 or so; pricey but worth it.
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Old Jan 14, 13, 12:19 am
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I think that the billing charge is $15, not 15 NIS. This is a charge per month, i.e. If you drive on a toll road on the 31st of one month and then on the 1st of the following month, they will bill you $30 (in addition to the toll road fees). Note that there are only two toll roads in Israel - Highway 6 and the Carmel tunnel - and they both have cameras that photograph the vehicles as they enter and exit the road.
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Old Jan 14, 13, 9:07 am
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I was not aware of the Carmel tunnel.

I am sure they said 15 shekel for the entire rental.
I was told that is the Avis part for processing the payment.
They said nothing about being a monthly fee but on the other hand Avis service at TLV is so poor that I doubt they would say anything that is relevant to my rental.
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Old Jan 14, 13, 11:48 pm
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Originally Posted by keloutwest View Post

2. We are renting a car from Hertz. I have done a lot of searching regarding the insurance provided by credit card. It seems like Visa excludes Israel, so it would be necessary to get insurance from Hertz (which, incidentally, is almost the same price as the entire rental). But it sounds like maybe World MasterCard would work, assuming you printed it out to prove? Any experiences there?
As I understand it, some but not all World Mastercards work. You can call MC (they have a division devoted to insurance coverage) and find out about your specific card, and request to have a letter of coverage emailed to you if it is covered. I have a Cap One World MC that worked fine (last month) and it was an easy process to find out and get the letter emailed. I have heard Citi Aadvantage MCs work also, but Cap One would be preferable for not having foreign exchange fees.
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Old Jan 15, 13, 7:03 am
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Booking directly with the hotel's website

Some hotels will offer special rates and/or benefits exclusively for reserving directly through their website. The best thing to do is to shop around and compare to the hotel's website. If the rates and/or conditions at the hotel's website are at least the same as with the agent it is preferred to reserve directly as you know that if there might be something wrong with the reservation it will be much easily handled as you are in the hotel that you booked with.
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Old Jan 15, 13, 11:21 am
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I am confident that the rental company surcharges are approx. $15. ( 50 NIS) I have driven Route 6 but never the Carmel tunnels. You would need to verify if that would incur a second charge. ( since it is a second bill which needs to be processed) Mbgg is correct that the charge ( or charges) are per calendar month, not per rental.

While eyalgottfried is correct re: most hotels, I have stayed at the Dan Panorama--booked through an agent and never had problems. I found my American agent to be less expensive than the hotel website. ( doesn't make sense--but that was reality)
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Old Jan 15, 13, 12:34 pm
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I almost always rent from Eldan. I don't think anyone accepts the third party liability coverage in Israel, but from my experience (I've rented cars from periods of time ranging from one week to three months at Natbag), the basic level insurance is all you need. The excess is total fluff, and I remember week long rentals running around $200 with the insurance/tax additions (and the $27 airport fee...drat). I've returned the cars beaten up quite a bit and never had a problem returning them or being charged fees. That's Israel for you! Nobody can drive there. But...it's home.

Regular hotels are great, but better deals are found on booking.com specials in smaller, boutique type hotels across the country - usually at half the price of the chains.

Just my two cents. I never drive Kvish 6 so I don't know about fees or tolls. I'm too poor for that
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Old Jan 15, 13, 5:18 pm
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For TLV:
The Dan Tel Aviv is good. The service is great for Israeli standards, but wouldn't be considered great in the US. The Dan Panorama is also good...but better breakfast buffet at the Dan Tel Aviv. Let's face it, it's all about the breakfast buffet. :-) Guns and Roses was staying there with us before their concert in July and we got to workout in their well equipped gym together. Ha! Rockstars on the elliptical!!

For JSM:
The Inbal Hotel is where we usually stay. It's a heck of a lot better than the King David, even though the KD has the name recognition and better location to the Old City. The Inbal has a great pool, buffet and actually pretty good sized rooms for the area.
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Old Jan 16, 13, 6:38 am
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Originally Posted by keisari View Post
I was not aware of the Carmel tunnel.

I am sure they said 15 shekel for the entire rental.
I was told that is the Avis part for processing the payment.
They said nothing about being a monthly fee but on the other hand Avis service at TLV is so poor that I doubt they would say anything that is relevant to my rental.
There are a couple of threads on the surcharge, and unfortunately, you misunderstood (at best). In addition to the calendar monthly fee, there will be individual use charges. It is not unusual at all for the final billing cycle to appear on your credit card as much as six months after your return home.

You will not have any success with using your credit card insurance.

With both car rentals and hotel rentals I always use the corporate web site. If you check the rates once every couple of weeks, you will find that the rate can fluctuate.
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Old Jan 19, 13, 8:05 pm
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Insurance Requirement

I did some calling and wanted to share the information:

Visa excludes the collision waiver insurance in Israel. Period. That was on my Chase Sapphire Preferred.

I called MasterCard regarding their benefits (I have a BofA World MasterCard). Their coverage is worldwide (no exclusions), but they indicated some countries/rental companies FORCE you to buy their insurance, and, if they do, the MC benefit is voided (i.e. they only cover if you decline/are allowed to decline ALL of the agency's coverage options).

They suggested I call the claims department and have a benefit letter issued stating that the coverage is valid in Israel. I will do this and report back how long it takes (they are closed on weekends) and also whether it works.

Further, I searched the Hertz website and found this: http://www.hertz.co.il/en/GoodToKnow/InfoIsrael/.aspx

Note the line: "Dear customer, should you choose not to purchase the CDW and TP coverage Hertz offers and rely on the coverage offered by your credit card company, it is your responsibility to notify the credit card company and verify the terms and conditions of said rental."

This appears to indicate that Hertz will accept a declination of their coverage, but I guess we'll see. The US-based phone agent said that in Israel it is required to buy the CDW insurance, no matter what credit card you have, so I guess we'll see.
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Old Jan 19, 13, 8:53 pm
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FWIW, I had a reservation with Hertz and cancelled it. I now have a reservation with Eldan, which, when considering the insurance, is much less expensive than Hertz. The total of the Eldan rental with insurance for 9 days is USD $418.89 (and that includes a $100 drop-off charge [Eilat to TLV]. The Hertz rental for the same period/locations was USD $356.00 + USD $351 for insurance.

bert
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Old Jan 20, 13, 1:17 am
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Originally Posted by mbgg View Post
I think that the billing charge is $15, not 15 NIS. This is a charge per month
You're correct that it's a monthly charge, but it's definetly 15 Shekel, not Dollars.
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Old Feb 3, 13, 4:38 am
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Israel hotel/car rental question

Following up here. Hertz immediately knew that my World MasterCard covered collision and told me that he would waive their coverage before I could even ask. I did not need to produce the letter provided to me by MC. However, I was required to buy the "3rd party insurance" which could not be waived. It was approx $15/ day. Not terrible. The rental check out process was quite slow, however. Plan on 45 minutes-1hr depending on the line.
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Old Feb 5, 13, 7:49 am
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Data point on toll roads. Rented with Eldan. Used toll road once. Received total charge of $19.13 US approx 6 weeks after returning car, broken down as 4.60 for toll, 11.75 handling fee, 2.78 VAT.
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