We all know that airlines are notorious for coming up with creative ways to increase their revenues. Fuel surcharges, baggage feels, blanket rentals – the list goes on and on. But did you know that many major car rental companies are beginning to follow suit, tacking on unusual charges both before and after you’ve driven off the lot? From additional driver fees to underage premiums, Car Rental Express looks at some of the most absurd car rental practices you’re likely to encounter this travel season.
1. Problematic Pricing
Think it’s tough deciphering airline charges? Just wait until you try and figure out car rental fees. Never, ever believe the advertised rate. These ultra-low rates are just a tease designed to draw you in. Taxes, processing fees and creative charges will have that rate doubled in no time. Wacky pricing practices to watch out for include late fees, airport location administration fees (always reserve your rental off-site in order to avoid these increases), and, our absolutely favorite, early return fees.
Wildly fluctuating rates are ridiculous, but completely normal in the car rental industry. Avoid them by using the Car Rental Express comparison tool to find, review and reserve your next rental.
2. The Age Game
“Young” is just another word for reckless when dealing with a car rental company. If you’re under 25 and looking for an affordable rental car, watch out! Most car rental companies insist on charging underage drivers a minimum surcharge of $20 a day in order to protect themselves against potential damages. Funny, I thought that was why they try and convince you to purchase added insurance? Luckily, some independent car rental companies have more lenient policies for young drivers. Before finalizing your rental, remember to check the small print.
3. Additional Driver? Additional Cost
Divvying up driving duties with a travel mate is a great idea. Unfortunately, it’s also a costly one thanks to absurd additional driver charges. These chargers can run from $10 to $12 a day! The actual cost to permit a second or third driver on your rental? Probably nothing. This fee is pretty tough to avoid; it used to be that spouses and close relatives were exempt from this policy, but very few rental agencies recognize this practice today.
4. Safety is Extra
Currently, car rental companies don’t enforce a seatbelt fee. They do, however, charge ridiculous fees to rent a child’s safety seat. Which, in itself, is fine – the company is providing you with an additional service. Unfortunately, for the price they’re charging, you could buy three car seats at the local department store.
5. Guess the Car Rental Class
Car rental classifications have always been shrouded in mystery. What one company considers to be a “compact” car, another might classify as “midsize.” So, who’s right? Well, both are. There’s no way of enforcing or standardizing car rental classes, so anything goes. When reserving your rental, don’t just compare price, also look at the type of vehicle you’re getting for your money. A little due diligence could garner you some added legroom.
6. Refueling Charges – Not Just for Planes Anymore
It worked for airlines, so why not car rentals? Some companies now include a mandatory refueling charge for rentals that travel fewer than 75 miles. Why? Presumably car rental companies are worried that if a customer drives less than a few miles, the gas gauge will still register as full. The lesson? Keep fuel receipts in your glove box, just incase you need to prove you’ve filled up. Ridiculous? Yes. But it could save you another $15 in fees.
While some car rental fees are reasonable, some are simply ludicrous. What are some of the strangest car rental costs that you’ve encounter?