The 5 rental car extra fees you should expect, and which ones you should think about if you’re traveling with a family.
Rental car fees
“No.” It’s my favorite word at the rental car counter. I don’t like paying extra for something I don’t need, and the car rental companies are eager to upgrade your service. If you have a child with you, expect to be sold even more services.
1. Pre-pay gas
The rental car companies offer lots of fuel options, and the refueling programs constantly change. Some companies offer to fill the tank for you, but their price is not a deal. Ask the salesman for the refueling gas rate, and compare that to nearby gas stations on GasBuddy. You’ll pay for the gas and likely a refueling service fee.
Pre-pay gas is another option. That’s where you pay for gas in the tank when you leave the car rental lot. Then you return the car with any level of gas. That’s taking a gamble if you don’t drive far. Why pre-pay for gas you don’t use?
Both gas options are not bargains, but they may be a time saver. For businessmen, saving an extra ten minutes can be crucial.
Some rental car companies are becoming sticklers on the gas. Be prepared to show your receipt proving you filled the car up with gas just before driving in the car rental lot.
2. PlatePass and other toll billing services
Don’t ignore the car rental toll booth gotchas. It’s easy to assume you’ll pay cash for any tolls. In Florida, that’s difficult. Cashless toll lanes are increasing. They catch drivers off guard. You have no choice but to drive through the toll lane. It’s a big deal if you’re in a rental car. You won’t get the bill. The rental car company gets the bill, and they’ll tack on fees for using their service. A $1 toll costs some drivers $20+. Some driers end up with $100 bills for driving on the toll road.
With some car rental companies, you pay every day you rent the car. The fees are not based on how often you drive a toll road. Also, some companies charge a $15 administration fee if you drive through a toll lane and don’t opt into the service at the car rental counter. Here’s all the details to rent a car and avoid high car rental fees.
3. Car Seat
The car seat is one fee you may want to pay. Families should plan ahead for this.
Airlines transport your car seat for free. You check it in at the gate. However, the car seat is cumbersome to carry around the airport and on vacation. If it’s an infant, there’s the added burden of the base. Some travellers just leave the base at home and use the belt strap buckle on the infant car carrier. It’s not as secure, but it works for a short time.
If you have a larger child, the permanent car seats are big and bulky. Plus, they are difficult to properly secure in new cars. Flying with a child is already difficult, and requires tips and tricks. It may be worth the money to pay a few dollars more each day to rent a car seat from the rental car company. You have to weigh the convenience versus the cost.
4. Car upgrade
I always book the cheapest car. That is no longer an option now that we have a family. until I had a family. Compact and economy cars are really small. If you don’t plan ahead, the car rental salesman will up sell the car. The cost of that larger car will probably cost more at the rental car counter. This is one up sell where the salesman isn’t ripping you off. You really need a midsize car if you’re travelling with a family in a rental car. Otherwise, your car seat may barely fit in the back seat. The larger cars are only a few dollars more per day, and it’s worth every penny.
If you purchase your car rental on a credit card, you probably don’t need car rental insurance. Most credit cards cover you in case of an accident or damage to the car. However, check with your specific credit card before leaving home to make sure.
A simple Google search for a credit card’s terms and conditions will give you the information you need on rental car coverage.
Also, don’t ignore the rental car inspection. Many customers and companies barely look at the inspection form. It’s important you look at it and indicate any damage. Mark dings, dents, or any other damage you see. It doesn’t matter if it’s minor damage. Mark it on the paperwork. Even take a picture. You don’t want to be charged for damage you didn’t cause. It happens all the time.