What You Need to Know About Hidden Costs on Car Rentals

While you can almost always find great cheap prices on car rentals, you may be surprised at how high your bill ends up being when you arrive to pick up your car.

There are numerous hidden fees tacked on to your car rental and by the time you are done going through them all, you will find that your bill is double what you expected or more.  There isn’t much you can do about some of the fees you will encounter, but you may be able to have some of them removed if you read your rental agreement carefully.

Here are the most common hidden costs that you will encounter with your car rental:


Insurance is one of the most common fees that you will see on your car rental agreement, but don’t expect it to be listed as that.  Instead, you agreement will normally state Collision Damage or Loss Damage Waiver.  Other types of insurance that car rental companies will try to get you to purchase are liability coverage and personal effects coverage.  You may or may not need any of this coverage, depending on what your personal car insurance covers.  The credit card that you use to pay for your car rental may also offer insurance coverage for your rental for free.

Concession Recovery Fees

Airports charge car rental companies a fee to do business there and that price is then passed along to you with this fee.  Some airports charge more than others, but it all adds up in the end when you pay more for your rental.  The only way to avoid this fee is to rent your vehicle from an agency that is not located at the airport.

Vehicle License Recovery Fee

This fee may seem nominal to you, but in reality, it should be included in what you are paying for your car rental.  However, rental agencies tack on this fee to cover what they pay to license their vehicles.

Tire and Battery Recovery Fee

Rental vehicles travel a lot of miles and that means that they need new tires and batteries more often than a personal car does.  This fee is passed on to you to pay for the disposal of the old tires and batteries.

Energy Surcharge Fee

This is also a nominal fee that you will find on your bill and it is charged to keep the rental agency’s power on.

Fuel Fee

You may always fill your gas tank before you return your car rental, but if you do, you will want to make sure that this fee is not listed in your bill.  This fee covers the cost of filling the gas tank when the vehicle if returned.  The cost of the gas is always higher per gallon with this option, but it can be convenient if you do not want to make an additional stop before returning your vehicle.

Age Fee

An age fee can be added to your car rental bill if you are under the age of 25 and this fee has even been incurred for senior citizen drivers when they are traveling internationally.

Additional Driver Fee

It is common for fees to be added for more than one driver and the only way to avoid the fee is to have one person do the driving.  There is an exception to this and that is some rental agencies will not charge for a spouse or domestic partner.

Mileage Fees

While many rental agencies will allow you to drive as many miles as you wish when you have their vehicle, that is not always the case.  Some special price rates may have a limit on the miles that can be driven and anything over will cost an exorbitant fee.  You will want to make sure you know how far you can drive before you can get charged extra.

Over a One Day Fee

If you are only going to need a rental car for one day, you will want to make sure that you return it before the 24 hours are up.  If you do not, you can be charged an hourly rate or even a full day’s rate.  Make sure that you understand what is written in your rental agreement so that you do not get caught paying more than you planned.

Returning Early Fee

Every day that a rental vehicle is not out on the road is a day that that car is not making the rental agency money.  Therefore, you shouldn’t expect any breaks if you return your car rental earlier than planned.  You may find that you get charged an early return fee or the cost of your rental can increase.  That increase can happen if you don’t qualify for a weekly rate any longer.

While you won’t want to go without a rental car when you need it, you can avoid some of the above fees on occasion.  Carefully read your car rental agreement and get as many of these charges removed as possible.

Related content

Rate this post