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Is Fuel Included in your Car Rental?

By: Tracy Whitelaw - Updated: 26 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Is Fuel Included In Your Car Rental?

When you've just stepped off a long flight and are picking up your car rental, it's reassuring to know that the car has a full tank of petrol and is sitting there waiting on you. For many people, it doesn't even cross their mind whether their rental car will come with petrol or not. Focusing on the larger issues such as whether it's fully insured, big enough for you and your passengers, automatic or manual and other necessities take precedence over the type of fuel agreement you have. There are a number of different ways that you can check whether fuel is included in your car rental however and you should be aware of it before you sign any papers.

Drive Away on a Full Tank and Return on a Full Tank

Most car companies will give you the option of driving your car rental way on a full tank of petrol. This sounds like the easiest solution and often is, however there are a few important points you must look out for when you choose this option.
  • Make sure the car is full to the brim when you drive it off the lot. Don't leave with a half tank if you've agreed to this option
  • When you return the car, you must return it in the same condition as it left the rental agency. This means you need to ensure it's full to the brim
  • Try and stop to refuel before returning the car as close as you can to the rental agency. Squeeze in as many litres of petrol as you can
  • If you return the car without refilling the petrol tank up to the top, you may be charged a 'refuelling charge'. These are expensive and can often be around 45GBP simply so the attendant can squeeze in a few more litres of petrol

Buy a Full Tank and Return it Empty

Another option that you may have at the car rental agency when it comes to fuel is to decide to get the car with a full tank and return it empty. Many people choose this option as they think they're getting a good deal, but in actual fact, it's often costing you more to buy the petrol in the first place from the car hire place. There are a number of important things to consider when it comes to this option.
  • You will usually end up paying up to 40% more for your full tank of petrol that it would have cost you to take the car empty and refuel yourself. The rental agency charges more for the petrol than regular service stations
  • You will need to judge perfectly when you're going to run out of fuel so that you make it back to the car hire agency just as you get to empty
  • There are no refunds for any petrol that you have left in your tank. If you are unlucky enough to still have around half a tank left, you're not going to see any credit back on your card

Pay Only for the Petrol You Use

Many people believe that paying for just the petrol they use means that they're getting a good deal. Sadly, this isn't the case. If you choose this option for your car rental, there are a few important points to consider.
  • Often with this option you'll be charged more than double the regular pump prices, so it's best to avoid this if you can
  • Terms and conditions about this option are often hidden deep in the small print, so never sign unless you're 100% clear on what you're paying for

General Tips About Car Rentals and Fuel

When it comes to hiring a car abroad, always make sure you're fully aware of the terms and conditions before committing yourself to a rental. If you purchase online, check to see if your fuel is included in the rental price and if so, which of the above mentioned categories it falls into. Many people are hit with extra charges on their credit card when they don't realise they're paying for extra fuel, so take your time and consider the best option for you before hiring.

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