Rental Car Fees – How to Avoid Them

Lower Rental Car Fees are Possible

Before booking a rental car check out these money saving tips.

Death and Taxes

Taxes & Airport Surcharges – As you are already painfully aware one cannot avoid these fees however you might be able to avoid the Airport Surcharge fees rental car companies charge if you pick up and drop off your rental car at an off-airport location. Local governments can and do charge fees to fund projects such as sports facilities and convention centers.

Insurance – Rental Car Companies generate tons of revenue by charging up to $25 per day for Loss Damage Waiver Insurance. Most personal auto policies cover damage to rentals while on vacation. Some policies have limitations for long-term rentals and may not provide coverage if used for business. Be sure to ask your insurance agent for details relating to your own policy. In addition if you use a credit card you may have additional coverage in case of damage to the rented vehicle. Coverage provided by credit card companies is secondary to your primary coverage and claims must be made within 30-45 days. As always check with your credit card issuer for specifics.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners gives the following insurance coverage tips for auto renters.

• Before renting, ask your insurance agent whether your personal auto policy covers a rental car.
• Ask your credit card company what coverage it provides.
• If your personal auto policy doesn't provide rental car coverage, ask the cost of adding a rental insurance rider.
• If you don't own a car, consider buying a non-owner auto insurance policy that provides benefits in addition to rental car coverage.
• If you are unclear about car rental insurance options or are concerned that a rental company is giving bad information, check with your state insurance department.

Gas Charges

Most rental car companies now offer an option to prepay for a full tank of gas. Instead use to locate the cheapest gas location nearest to the airport you will return your rental car and fill up before you bring it back.

Drop Off Charges

Most rental car companies will charge a fee if you return your rental car to a different location however many companies do not charge fees if dropped off at in-state locations in California and Florida.


Unless you are doing a lot of driving in an unfamiliar location avoid this add on.

24 Hour Clock Charges

Be aware of when your rental is due back at the return location. Most companies have a 24 hour rental period so if you picked-up your rental at 9:00 AM on Tuesday it is due back at 9:00 AM on Wednesday. Most companies have a 1 hour grace period on returns. If you know you will be returning your rental at a specific time try to adjust your pickup time to coincide with when you plan on returning. Return your rental late on a weekend and you could see your rates adjusted to the more expensive weekly rates.

Frequent Flier Miles

Planning on getting credit for frequent flier miles on your rental car? Some rental car companies are now charging a few cents to $2 per day for this option.

International Fees

Many of the above fees apply to car rentals while overseas as well. Check with your Insurance Agent and credit card company for specifics on international travel. Theft insurance is mandatory in some countries such as Italy. Switzerland charges a highway usage fees so make sure you purchase a pass to avoid fines. You also may need to purchase an International Driving Permit so refer to that countries official tourism website.

How do you lower your rental car bill?

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