Booking a rental car can be relatively affordable, provided that you take the time to shop for the best rates and book ahead of time. However, even once you've picked up your rental car and secured your daily rate, your total costs paid can still fluctuate. That's because there are fees and penalties that rental car companies can add to your account if you make certain mistakes that would cost the company money or otherwise inconvenience them. Here are a few small but surprisingly expensive rental car mistakes to avoid on your next trip.
Returning the Car Late
Most car rental companies make it easy for you to avoid this mistake by giving you the option of selecting your own return date and time for the car. Always give yourself a little bit of a time buffer to avoid late charges; for example, if you have a flight home to catch at 5:00 p.m., you might as well schedule your return for no earlier than 5:00 p.m. This way, even if you're running a little behind schedule, you shouldn't have to worry about racking up late fees.
If you do return a rental car late, most companies charge by the hour rather than charging you for another full day. Be sure to read the fine print so you understand what kinds of fees you can expect in the event that you are a little late.
Bringing the Car Back to a Different Location
This little mistake can rack up quite a bit of money in additional charges—mostly because it causes a pretty big inconvenience for the rental company itself. Still, returning your rental car to a different location than you originally planned is more common than many would think. Plans change, and it may seem more convenient to drop the car off at a different location to reflect that change. However, since the rental car company will need to pay a driver to transport the car back to its proper location, you should expect to see some additional fees tacked on; if possible, notify the company of the change before you drop the car off. They might waive the fee, but they're not obligated to.
Forgetting to Top Off the Gas
Finally, in your rush to get your rental car back where it belongs, be careful not to forget to top off the gas tank. If you fail to return the car with a full tank, you could be charged a flat penalty or a certain dollar amount per gallon to have the tank refilled for the next driver. Since this rate is usually significantly higher than the current going rate-per-gallon, you can save a lot of your hard-earned money by remembering to top off just before you arrive at the drop-off location, such as Whitehorse Subaru.
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