19 Shady Things Car Rental Agencies Do (That You Should Be Aware Of)

Ever need to a rent a car (either because you are going on vacation or because your car is in the shop and you need a backup to get around until it's done) and the first thing you start to think is about all the high costs you are going to have to pay?

Well, you’re not the only one.

We all fear that the agent, or website, is going to hit us with all different kinds of fees and programs that we don’t even need. It can be truly a stressful situation.

Rental companies have a lot of tricks and methods to separate us from our money and line their pockets. That’s what we are here for though. To inform you of all these tricks. This way you are better prepared next time you must rent a car.

Here are 20 sketchy things that car rental agencies are known for.

19 They Try And Push Their Insurance On You (Even Though You Don't Have To Get It Through Them)

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When renting a car, rental agencies prefer if the renter buys collision/loss coverage through them.

According to Smartertravel though, renters have two other options where they can try to save some money. First, the renter should check and see if their own insurance offers it, and second, many credit cards offer no-charge secondary coverage.

18 They Like To Pile On Damage Costs


When renters use their credit cards to pay for their rentals and get “free” coverage, they are not happy.

According to Smartertravel, some rental companies will come up with new cost elements that they hope the renter's credit card won’t cover in order for the renter to buy their overpriced stuff anyhow.

17 They Are Constantly Overbooking

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It is a common practice for both airlines and rental car agencies to overbook to compensate for no shows.

According to Smartertravel though, airlines offer cash compensation and a big-dollar travel voucher to anyone willing to take a later flight, satisfying 90% of their overbooked passengers.

Car agencies, on the other hand, do not compensate at all and therefore get quite a lot of dissatisfied customers.

16 They Charge Insane Prices To Refill The Gas Themselves


Most rental car companies go by a “get it full, return it full,” policy. If a customer returns a car without filling it up, they just add to their bill.

According to Smartertravel, when they are forced to fill their vehicles back up, they go by a per-gallon charge that sometimes can be double, or triple, the going rate.

15 They Charge For Additional Drivers....

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One of the most annoying costs a renter must pay when renting a car is the extra cost for an additional driver.

Something that should honestly be free.

According to Smartertravel, in most parts of the United States, the going rate for an additional driver is $13 a day. Luckily, there are some that will dismiss the charge if it’s a spouse, domestic partner, or business associate.

14 They Play Games When It Comes To Discounts


Rental companies are notorious for posting extremely high prices and then offering “big” discounts to members of AAA, AARP, and other such organizations.

According to Smartertravel though, those “big” discounts usually only apply selectively to very high daily rates; discounts on weekly rates tend to be much lower.

The bottom line? Don’t obsess over getting the “best” rate. If the deal looks good, take it.

13 They Charge You More To Keep The Car For A Few Days (Than If You Were To Keep For A Week)


So, say a person is going away on business and needs to rent a car for a week. Their cost for that week will be around $289 after tax.

Well, according to Smartertravel, for someone who only needs a car for say four days, their cost will be around $333.

Renters need to keep their vehicles at least five days to get the weekly rate, otherwise, they will pay more.

12 They Like To Add On Phoney Fees


According to Smartertravel, this would be the estimated break down of a bill from a car rental agency at an airport: base rate $67, airport concession fee $8, customer facility charge $6, convention center surcharge and parking fine recovery $11, vehicle licensing cost recovery and excise tax reimbursement $4, energy surcharge $1, taxes $5.

Only the convention center fees and taxes are paid to the government, and the rest is all from doing business at an airport.

11 Their Included Liability Insurance Barely Covers Anything


Liability insurance is more important than collision damage protection because it helps protect the driver in case of an accident resulting in another person getting injured.

According to Smartertravel, when it comes to renting in the United States, base rates typically only cover the mandatory minimum for liability coverage in the state the renter is renting from, which is pretty low and barely covers anything.

10 They Make You Think There Are A Lot Of Different Car Rental Places To Choose From (But There Actually Isn't)


When it comes to finding the best rental car agency that will give the best discounts, renters think they have a lot of options to choose from.

According to Destinationtips though, this is not true. A lot of different rental brands are involved with one another. For example, Avis owns Budget and Zipcar, Hertz owns Dollar and Thirty, Enterprise owns Alamo and National, and Advantage owns E-Z Rent-A-Car.

9 They Will Charge You If They Find Damage After You Dropped The Car Off And Left

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One thing a renter always wants to make sure they do is to sign the vehicle inspection form before leaving the lot.

According to Destinationtips, if a renter doesn’t sign the agreement before leaving and damage is found on the car, even if they didn’t cause it, chances are that they will be the one stuck with the blame.

8 They Charge Way More For Anyone Under The Age Of 25


People under the age of twenty-five will be charged more to rent a car than someone over the age.


Well, according to Destinationtips, car rental agencies have qualms about renting cars out to younger drivers, mainly because of how irresponsible they can be.

Don’t be too upset though. At one point, people under the age of twenty-five couldn’t even rent a car.

7 Upgrade Costs Are Totally At Their Discretion

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This one can be a bit confusing, but in short, there is no such thing as an upgrade rate.

According to Destinationtips, car rental agencies love to pull a “wool over the eyes” trick. See, adding an upgrade cost is totally up to their discretion. It just all depends on what is in the lot at the time.

6 They Have Spies Inside The Car

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There are some agencies that have a limit as to how far a renter can go with their vehicle.

According to Destinationtip, venture even a few miles outside their imaginary barrier, and suffer the financial sucker punch. There is no outsmarting them either. Some cars are actually equipped with trackers inside the GPS units, while other companies will just convert the rental costs to a mileage rate to determine their fee.

5 Their Base Prices Are A Lie


When it comes to renting a car, the agencies should include all their hidden fees in the overall base price.

However, according to Destinationtips, they would rather sneakily claim they offer dirt-cheap prices, but then add all the extra costs later on.

It's enough to make anyone explode when it comes time to check out.

4 Time Is Of The Essence


One of the best times to travel is after a holiday weekend or a major event.

According to Destinationtips, the reason for this is because whatever cars that are still on the lot aren’t making the rental company any money, which is a problem for them. This is the time when they are way more willing to rent out cars at a reduced rate, just to ensure they are making some money.

3 Some Charge Early Return Fees

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Most of the time, being on time, or even early, is a good thing. When it comes to rental cars, this can turn out to be a bad thing.

According to Destinationtips, returning a car early means breaking a contract and can result in the renter losing their multiple-day booking discounts and even requiring an early-return fee.

2 You Get Charged Taxes To Fund Other Places

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When a person rents a car, the agency will usually add on taxes labeled “stadium tax” or “downtown arena.”

According to Destinationtips, they do this because some counties have a law that requires the agencies to pay taxes towards stadiums and arenas.

So, for a person renting a car, they can drive by a stadium and say their tax dollars went into building it.

1 They Charge A Daily Vehicle Licensing Fee


Here is another example of a renter paying for something they have nothing to do with: the Vehicle Licensing Fee.

According to Destinationtips, over in Europe, rental agencies require the renter to pay $5 each day on top of their bill. Meaning, the renter is basically paying for the vehicle taxes and permits that the company accrues.

Sources: Smartertravel, Destinationtips

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