hire or rent?

The meaning is the same: to rent or hire something, you pay money in order to be allowed to use it for a limited amount of time. It is simply a matter of usage. With some nouns you can use one or the other, it doesn't matter which as both are freely used.

You can:
rent or hire cars, bikes, electronic equipment:

  • 'We rented a TV and video as we intended to stay in England for only six months.'
  • 'If you're planning to go to Cambridge for the day, hire a bike when you arrive. It's the best way to get round the town.'

With other nouns it is customary in British English to use one and not the other. We would: rent a flat, caravan, cottage, house:

  • 'I renteda cottage by the sea for the summer.'
  • 'He rented me his flat in London while he was on holiday in Greece.'

However, note the difference in use, depending on whether it is used as a verb or a noun:
· flats to rent, but
· bikes for hire