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Avoid Car Rental Upcharges

By Expert Author: Steve Robinson

If planning an affordable trip via a careful review of cheap travel options, such as cheap airplane tickets, discount hotel rooms, cheap auto rentals, cheap vacation packages, and discount travel deals is important, then you need to be aware how some car rental agencies try to gouge their rental customers.

Rental companies often post very low base prices then add a variety of fees and charges that can almost double the actual cost of renting a car. Such charges can include concession recovery fees, licensing fees, premise occupancy fees, and airport transportation fees.

Select car rental companies charge high prices for options that can be avoided. The following are suggestions on how to avoid being overcharged by your car rental agency, according to Smarter Travel:

• Overpriced insurance is a typical tactic. While rental companies sometimes refer to their policies as “insurance” in most case that is not an accurate description. Their policies usually are a waiver of the company’s right to collect damages from you if you damage the rental. Third party sources can provide car rental insurance for often as little as one third of what a rental agency would charge and many credit card companies offer free insurance so long as the car rental is charged on their credit cards.

• Fueling charges can be excessive. Typically car renters are offered three options for fuel: Buy a full tank when you rent the car, pay to have the rental company refuel it when you return the car, or return your car with a full tank of gas. The first two options are rip-offs. Not getting credit for returning a partially full tank makes no sense. When a rental company fills a car, often it charges two to three times the local price per gallon. You should look for gas stations near your car rental agency so that you will know where to get a refill immediately prior to returning the car. Make certain you get a receipt since some companies require proof (i.e., a receipt) that you filled the tank within a few miles of the drop-off location.

• Extra driver chargers can run up to $13 per day, per driver, sometimes with a minimum charge of over $90 per driver. Alamo, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz, and National waive the extra driver fee for a spouse/partner on rentals by members of their frequent renter programs.

• Geographic limit mileage charges are imposed by select rental companies, typically smaller, low priced renters. Violators can often be tracked by GPS units in cars and be charged steep additional fees. Most national companies no longer charge such fees.

• Companies located at airports or train stations often charge more for such locations. You can sometimes realize substantial savings by renting from a downtown or suburban location. Before doing so you need to weigh the convenience of renting from where you first arrive and the additional cost of getting to and from the rental location.

• Excessive one way charges are yet another way rental customers can be abused. If you can’t arrange your itinerary in such a way as to return the car to where you rented it, make certain you compare prices of major rental companies. Periodically select companies offer lower one way prices. Consider directly calling the rental agency’s local office in your pickup city.

Sometimes rental agencies will waive their one way fee if they have a car on the lot that they want to return to the rental office at your destination. Yet another option is to combine multiple local rentals with rail or air trips so that you do not have any one way car rentals.

• To avoid high local rates in Europe go online to a U.S. Travel Internet site and book a car often for substantially less.

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