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Which is better: PCO Car Hire or Rent 2 Buy?

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To work as a private-hire driver you need a PCO car that meets the rules of operators such as Uber. If you do not already have one – and a traditional finance agreement is unsuitable – there are two main routes.

Option 1: PCO Car Hire 

For new drivers, or experienced ones who need total flexibility, a rental deal is the quick win. It’s the simple way to start earning money with Uber or solve a short-term problem. For instance, if your vehicle is off the road.  

The big benefit of PCO Car Hire is the freedom to work around your own lifestyle, as the minimum rental period is usually 4 weeks. Want to visit family abroad? Give 7-days notice, hand back the keys – and go. 

What is included with a rental deal? 

Most reputable PCO Car Hire companies will provide a vehicle that is Uber-approved and ready to roll, with everything included. The exact terms of a rental deal can vary, though, so it‘s good to ask questions. 

If car insurance is included, check this is suitable for PHV driving and get written proof before you pay. It’s wise to discuss the policy excess (i.e. the fixed amount that insurance does not cover) and how this will work in various situations. Unexpected events do happen – and so it’s sensible to prepare for them.  

The good news is that Otto Car gives you a complete package, with no servicing charges – even for brakes or tyres – plus optional insurance. There is zero excess for ‘no-fault’ claims and the maximum is £1,000 if it’s least partly your fault. We’re open about this – and reviews prove we treat every driver fairly.  

An Otto Car driver smiling in his PCO vehicle

Who is suitable for PCO Car Hire? 

If you already hold a PCO licence, it’s highly likely you will be accepted but there are a few basic rules. 

  • Minimum age 25
  • Live and work in Greater London
  • Maximum 6 points on driving licence
  • Maximum 2 fault accidents
  • No major convictions, such as an IN10
  • Registered to at least one London private-hire operator

You must complete 12 weeks of PCO Car Hire to unlock our Rent 2 Buy ownership plans if you are new to the game. However, our Career Boost scheme makes it easy to switch. You can take a brand-new PCO car from day one and transfer up to £7,000 of rent onto an ownership deal when the time is right*.  

What is the cost of PCO Car Hire in London? 

This will depend on the exact model and age of the PCO car that you choose to drive. As a rough guide, Otto Car’s rental prices currently start from £174/week with a £250 returnable deposit. 

Summary: PCO Car Hire

Key benefits: Ultra-flexible; fully comprehensive; available to new drivers 

Things to consider: No ownership; stock is variable; prices not fixed

PCO driver Isaac Yageneh with his new Tesla Model 3 at Otto Car's Hendon Hub

Option 2: Rent to Buy

The dream for every PCO driver is to own a vehicle and get to the point when the weekly payment ends. Ownership plans – which are often marketed as Rent 2 Buy – can transform this into a reality for you, even if you have a bad credit history. It’s a great opportunity to improve your life circumstances. 

A big difference from a traditional finance deal is there is usually no credit check. The idea is that you can choose a brand-new (or used) PCO car and then work your way towards owning it, while keeping most of the flexibility of rental. Once you complete the contract, the car is yours to keep driving or sell.  

Rent 2 Buy plans work in different ways (tip: always read the small print). That said, the main advantage is you lock-in today’s price for a PCO car. Even if the cost of a new car rises, your weekly payment will never change. 

What is included with a Rent to Buy deal? 

With most Rent to Buy deals, the running costs are part of the weekly payment. The most obvious example here is car insurance but others include the servicing as well as 24/7 breakdown cover. 

Otto Car was the first UK firm to offer this type of deal for the PCO driver, which we call Rent 2 Buy. The standard version is available across England and Wales for private hire drivers who want to source their own insurance and MOT. The majority prefer our fully comprehensive Rent 2 Buy + plan, which includes everything you need for hassle-free motoring.  

  • PCO insurance & servicing
  • MOT & PHV licences 
  • Breakdown cover 
  • Road tax 
  • Holiday payment breaks

As with rental, the exact deal will vary between providers, which makes it tricky to compare. The main point is the length of the contract, which obviously affects the weekly price. In the good old days of the Toyota Prius, the contract was three years. As PCO cars have gradually become more expensive, Rent to Buy agreements are now usually between four and five years unless it’s a used deal, which is shorter.

PCO driver with his car outside of Otto Car's Hammersmith Hub

What are the hidden costs of Rent to Buy? 

You should always go into a deal with your eyes open and an obvious trapdoor is a cancellation period. 

Otto Car believes you should be able to keep your options open. This is why we allow you to hand back a Rent to Buy car after 12 weeks if your plans change. Others charge a big fee if you leave within a full year.  

Another thing to watch out for is mileage limit. For example, Otto Car allows you to drive 1,000 miles per week as part of the deal, whereas some firms make drivers pay for anything over 700 miles per week. 

It’s wise to consider every point – plus the reputation of the firm – when you choose a Rent to Buy deal. Money is not the only thing that matters. Otto Car invites you to join the family because we provide more than a car. You belong to London’s largest community of PCO drivers building a brighter future together.

What is the cost of Rent to Buy in London? 

Once again, this will depend on your choice of PCO car and if it’s new or used. To give you an idea, Otto Car’s most affordable new Rent 2 Buy deal is £249/week over 4.5 years with a £299 downpayment.

Summary: Rent 2 Buy 

Key benefits: Route to ownership; Locked-in prices; Hassle-free motoring; Holiday payment breaks

Points to consider: 12-weeks minimum; Downpayment is not refundable

Happy driver holding a car key in his PCO car

Conclusion: Should Uber drivers take PCO Car Hire or Rent 2 Buy?  

It’s impossible to say which route is best. Most PCO drivers love the opportunity to work towards car ownership on a Rent 2 Buy plan. Others stick with a long term car rental deal because it suits their lifestyle. 

Just remember that all new drivers must begin their journey with PCO Car Hire for at least 12 weeks, even though you can transfer up to £7k of rental payments onto an ownership plan with Career Boost.  

Next step…

The Otto team is happy to discuss which options work for you and help drivers make smart choices. Feel free to pop into any of our five central London hubs to talk about how to get your career moving. 

*This scheme only applies to specific cars. See here for details.

Not sure which PCO car to choose? Try our car selection tool to find out the car that best suits your needs.

Want to learn more?

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