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Are the Extra Charges in Car Rental Fair or Legal?

By: Tracy Whitelaw - Updated: 28 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Are The Extra Charges In Car Rental Fair Or Legal?

When it comes to car rentals abroad, most people feel that they are paying for items they don’t need or are being conned by extra charges they are unaware of. There are often a number of ‘hidden’ surprises when it comes to car hire. In general, these are all avoidable, or at the very least, should come as no surprise if you’re educated about what they mean. They are all completely legal, so even if you may feel that you’re being mistreated or tricked, the ‘hidden’ extras are completely above the law and car rental agencies are able to sell these should they wish. Whether or not they’re entirely fair however is a completely different matter.

Fuel Surcharges

One of the most common extras when it comes to car hire is the fuel surcharge. Fuel is never normally part of the rental agreement unless you have a special deal, yet many people are surprised to hear that they need to pay extra for fuel. This may not seem fair, but it’s entirely legal. There are three ways you can arrange fuel for your car:
  • Pick up full and return full – Make sure it is completely full when you return to avoid ‘refuelling charges’
  • Pick up full and return empty – You’ll be charged more for a full tank here than you would if you bought it at a pump
  • Same level of petrol – Bring the car back as it left the lot, but be sure that you’re not paying for the amount of petrol you use as this can be expensive

Out of Hours Extra Charges and One Way Rental Fees

If you’re planning to take your rental car on a one way trip, be aware that you will normally be charged a one way rental fee. Again, this may not be fair, especially if you’re returning to an airport and using a large car hire company, but it is entirely legal. It is usually based on the distance between the rental place and the return place, so expect to pay a hefty amount if you are travelling cross country. Another charge that seems unfair to many renters is the out of hours charge. If you want to avoid out of hours charges, go to a large car rental company and avoid smaller local companies. Large companies are generally open 24 hours a day so they’ll be free of these charges.

Unfair Insurance Charges for Car Rentals

Car insurance for rental cars can be a logistical minefield for most renters. It’s one of the most common complaints from renters when they feel confused by the terminology and the extra charges that they seem to be persuaded into buying. There are a few main points to remember about extra insurance cover when it comes to car rental, but keep in mind, they’re all entirely legal.
  • Collision Damage Waiver – Also known as Loss Damage Waiver. This isn’t exactly insurance, but does mean that in a collision you will not be held responsible and liability will fall to the car rental agency. You’ll be covered for the cost of repairing the car, but will still need to pay an excess charge generally. In some cases, you can avoid this excess, but you may need to pay a larger deposit in this case.
  • It’s common to think that your car rental insurance is already going to completely cover you when you show up, but these extra insurance top ups are there to protect you and of course to make the rental company more money
  • A great way of avoiding these extra charges is to insure yourself with a specialist insurance company before you leave. You can find these online and they'll generally save you a large amount of money compared to buying from the rental company

As with most hidden extras from car rental companies, insurance extras are entirely legal. Most people don’t like them and do feel they’re being conned, but in some countries is extremely important to have the highest level of coverage you can get. In particular, the USA is a country where high levels of coverage are required due to the number of accident claims made there every year.

Extra Charges – Fair or Legal?

Ultimately when it comes to deciding whether extra charges for car hire are either fair or legal, it comes down to a few things. They certainly are always legal and all car companies are required by law to abide to certain standards. As to whether or not they’re fair, this is dependent on your own perceptions. If you want the best coverage you can get and are willing to pay for it along with any other extras or additions, then the charges are fair. If you’ve been told that there are no further charges then this isn’t being fair. Ultimately you should aim to always understand the terms and conditions of your rental agreement before signing, whether you buy online, over the phone or at the counter. Only then are you truly able to determine whether they’re fair or not.

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After considerable internet serching, I found your non Gobbledegook answer to my questions -Thank you
woodie - 24-Nov-11 @ 12:36 PM
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