Why isn’t anyone mad about car rental fee disclosure?

When it comes to airline fees, there’s no shortage of outrage. The simple mention of the word “ancillary” or “surcharge” in a story is enough to draw hundreds of comments.

But turn your attention to another part of the travel industry, like car rental companies, and you hear the sound of crickets.

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Valanie Bradley would like to know why that’s happening. She recently tried to book a car through Thrifty in Orlando for a day, because it offered a reasonable rate of $52.

And then she was shown this screen:

Rental Time Charge – $52.00
Customer Facility Charge – ($2.50 per day) $2.50
CONCESSION FEE REC – (10%) $7.46
Energy Recovery Fee – ($0.45 per day) $0.45
FLORIDA SURCHARGE – ($2.02 per day) $2.02
STATE TAX – (6.5%) $5.63
VEHICLE LICENSE FEE – ($0.59 per day) $0.59
Drop off fee – $21.60
Total Estimated Mandatory Charges – (USD) $92.25
Estimated Grand Total – (USD) $92.25

“Needless to say, I walked away from this one before hitting the final ‘book it’ button,” she says. “I think car rental fees may be even more devious than airline fees.”

I’m not going to rehash what I’ve already written about car rental fees, but suffice it to say that some of them are unavoidable (taxes) some are avoidable (the drop-off fee) and the rest are ridiculous (energy recovery fee – might as well call that a money grab fee!).

Where’s the outrage?

To find out, I tried to recreate her booking on Thrifty. On the home page, I requested a rental in Orlando, and it took me to a second page where I selected the vehicle type. It quoted a low “base” rate, minus fees.

On page two, Thrifty tried to persuade me to upgrade to a navigation system, add a car seat for my child, or to buy optional insurance. The rate remained the same.

It wasn’t until the next page that Thrifty disclosed the real price of the rental. Instead of $78 per day for a Chevrolet Aveo (which, by the way, is a terrible rate) I would have to shell out $97.

That seems like a little bit of a bait and switch to me. Why not disclose all mandatory fees up front? For the record, this isn’t just a Thrifty practice. Practically all the car rental companies do it this way.

The answer lies in the definition of “mandatory” — and in the level of disclosure.

Airlines offer roughly the same level of disclosure as car rental companies, when it comes to mandatory fees. By the way, that’s expected to change in January, when new federal laws take effect that would force carriers to quote a fare that includes taxes and mandatory fees.

But there’s that word again: “mandatory.” Many air travelers don’t consider the first checked bag or a seat reservation to be an optional purchase. Many airlines do. So when they price an airline ticket, passengers need a calculator and crack search skills to figure out the true cost of their trip.

The resulting confusion is immensely profitable to airlines. So much so that if you removed baggage fees, you would plunge the entire industry – with the possible exception of JetBlue and Southwest – into the red.

It is this alleged profit by deception that has air travelers worked up in a frenzy, and why car rental companies have had an easy ride.

It’s selective indignation, to be sure. But it’s understandable.

There’s no reason why airlines, hotels, car rental companies and cruise lines shouldn’t quote an “all-in” price for their products. If there are any optional fees, customers should be able to add those before they check out, in an ideal world.

“Base” rates are just theoretical numbers that no one ever pays, and therefore, no one should ever see.

67 thoughts on “Why isn’t anyone mad about car rental fee disclosure?

  1. Why is it, though, that we do not require the same thing from all retailers? All stores in the US can quote the price “plus tax,” and we are ok with that. I guess the main difference is that we usually know what the sales tax is in the places we live or visit, and we have no idea of what the fees and taxes are on rental cars, hotel rooms, and airline tickets.
    So it is all about information! We need to know how much to expect for fees and taxes before, so we can make an educated purchase.
    And, by the way, what I want to know ahead, is not just what is “mandatory” or not, but what fraction of my money will go to the company (and that should be the “fare” with all the fees they want to add on top) and what goes to the government (which should be the “taxes” regardless of whatever spin politicians want to put on it…)

    1. In many places I’ve visited, the sales tax (or more likely, the VAT) is included in the shelf price. Especially since I’m from Chicago, which has about the highest sales tax in the country at 10.25%, it’s quite nice to feel like I’m getting a 10% discount any time I shop in such places.

      Then again, many of those same places do not require stores to show a per-unit price for goods in order to make a like-for-like comparison. (As in, is the 2L Coke for $1.50 a better deal than the 6-pack for $2.00? No way to tell unless the per-oz is listed or you have a calculator and a metric-to-imperial conversion chart handy.)

      1. Unit pricing is not mandatory as set by the Federal Government in the US-it is set on a State by State basis. As of 2006 (the latest info I could find) 31 states did not have laws on the books requiring unit pricing. Washington State is one of those but I know in grocery store chains, I do see the shelf tags with unit pricing.

        I think it is something that every shopper-whether you are shopping for groceries, a new car, a trip or vacation or a new suit should learn to do. Do your homework, comparison shop and read the fine print. Caveat Emptor.

    2. Because when I buy a shirt at the store, I don’t pay a “retailer storage fee”, a “planogram removal slot fee”, a special state surcharge over and above the sales tax, a recovery fee, a shopping bag fee (yet), or any other type of weird extra charges.

  2. With all the emphasis in discounts that happens in marketing these days, I’m surprised there aren’t car rental companies who publish a full fare, but then GIVE HUGE DISCOUNTS to everyone who removes certain optional things. 

    Instead of, “I can add insurance for only $10/day,” or, “A GPS costs $10 extra,” the places could make everything opt out, and offer discounts for doing so. Since discounts feel better than adding extras, they could probably get away with lowering the amount, too. So it would be, “I can save $10/day$8/day by not getting insurance,” or, “I can save $10/day$8/day by not getting the GPS.” And I’m sure there would be plenty of people who leave things at the default, and pay for the privilege too…

    More transparent AND a way to increase ancillary revenue? Sounds like a win to me.

    1. But Americans have become obsessed with only the lowest-price.  Trust me, as an agent, I hear those folks who want it for what it was last week, last month, last year — what they saw advertised (without all port charges and taxes), or even on a short sale, WHILE SUPPLIES LAST.  Very few are interested in customer service anymore, and so the vendors don’t feel a need to provide it.  My long-term clients, however, have learned the value of an advocate for their needs, and won’t worry about the $5.00 less they may have seen online — they know they will get the best VALUE for the vacation they purchase from me, and know I will always look out for their needs.  Unfortunately, most people just want CHEAP – so that is what they get!  (Of course, it now actually costs MORE when you add all the ancillary fees up)   

  3. I got used to have many browser tabs opened in various rental companies, plus a handful of consolidators/OTA, to check for rental prices when I need one. I need to go all the way to the last screen, right before I need to enter CC number, to be sure about the real fares.

    What stuns be, sometimes, is that facility concession recovery fees are different for different companies operating in the same company. How could that be?

    A while ago, I read some executive in the industry writing about having to quote “non-inclusive” fares to avoid sales taxes and others to be charged on other surcharges. But I guess that is at best a semi-truth, as one would expect taxes and fees to be the same for all rental companies operating in the same place and do not include things like “energy fees” or “service fees”. If not, state taxmen should be all over this.

    On top of that I think we needed the Federal Government, under the commerce clause, to put an end on the practice of local authorities gouging visitors with all kinds of fees levied on rental cars, from stadium fees to tourist promotion fees. Car renters are an easy target because they don’t vote in the place taxes are paid, stay only for a while and are pretty much a captive market for rental cars in all but a few places with good subways like Chicago or New York. So I’d be keen to see some federal law restore fairness by not allowing rental cars be charged with vehicular-based fees that are not charged in other cars registered in the same area/state.

    1. Once I decided to stay overnight in San Jose, California because I had an early meeting – even though I live within reasonable driving distance.  I just didn’t want to be late for this meeting.

      I actually booked a room via Priceline.  The price was actually pretty good.  The location was excellent.  I was quite happy with the room considering what I paid.  The only thing was that the city had a special surcharge on something like the 30 largest hotels in the city, and only those hotels.  If I had booked a simple motel, I don’t think I would have been liable for that surcharge.


      Not only that, but most hotels actually agreed for a 14% hotel tax to help modernize their convention center.


      1. In all fairness to San Jose, the convention center (and airport) was a joke for the largest city in Silicon Valley.  They were simply utterly unable to handle the overflow from San Francisco convention facilities, nor were they able to provide a usable less-expensive alternative; they were Nowheresville Civic Center style facilities in a place where you can imagine there would be a pretty decent demand for high-dollar trade shows.

        If I was a hotel, I’d agree to the tax too, since hotels would be the biggest benefactor of a viable convention center.

        1. But, really, in the end, isn’t it the citizens of San Diego who benefit from this? Whereas I, as an infrequent user of the new convention center, get the “benefit” of the new amenities maybe once or twice; Mr. San Diego citizen reaps the benefit of more bookings at the facility, therefore, more revenue for the city, etc.

          It’s the same old scam; rake the tourist over the tax dollar coals since he has no say in the matter.

          1. Have you ever been to San Jose? (the subject of the comment, not San Diego)  It’s not a tourist destination.  The vast majority of visitors to San Jose are there on business.  Except for a couple museums and a mediocre hockey team, there is nothing to see there; it certainly isn’t a tourist town.

            It makes perfect sense for the largest hotels (the most likely lodging for convention-goers) to pay for the new convention center, while John Q. Citizen, who never attends such conventions nor derives any benefit, doesn’t pay.  (Convention center use fees virtually never cover the cost of construction; cities rely on additional tax revenue to cover construction costs, while use fees cover operations.)

          2. The 14% hotel tax is for every lodging establishment in the city, including small motels.  The 75 cents to $2 surcharge is only for large hotels.

            I frankly only recall being to the San Jose Convention Center once.  Almost all conventions and meetings I attended were at the larger and very modern Santa Clara Convention Center.

    2. The example Chris gave actually charges sales tax on all of the fees (6.5% on $86.62). So that executive was giving a load of bs. It’s a game to the airlines and car rental companies to see who can make their fare look the lowest while burying anything they can further away from the base fare.

  4. There are all sorts of different pricing models.  I think we’re already used to things being added on, such as sales tax, hotel taxes, bottle/can deposits, etc.  I can go and get that 12-pack of Coke on special for $3, but then I have to pay sales tax on that in California, plus CRV which totals 60 cents.  It’s almost a third of the “base price”.

    On the other hand, the one item everyone buys with a multi-level tax structure is fuel, but when we go to the pump, everything is already included in the price and there are no surprises.  I think my head would spin if I had to figure out in my head state gas taxes per gallon plus federal gas taxes per gallon plus state sales tax on the pre-tax selling price of the fuel.

    However, the last time my family went on a trip, we got a $14/day special rate at one airport rental location.  There were only 3 added taxes/fees that totaled $12 for 3 days.  I figure that $54 all-inclusive price for 3 days in Oahu wasn’t bad.  I certainly didn’t complain about the fees.

    1. In reference to going to the pump, why is the price always with a .9 at the end.  When you look at a gas price it is $325.9   That .9 adds up.  Why is it there???

      1. Psychological to make you think you are paying a little less than you actually are, same as a price in a retail store ending in .98 or .99 or whatever.

      2. Yes!  I’ve been annoyed by that fraud for years.  I still want to see if I can get my one mill change if I pump in exactly one gallon….

  5. While I don’t fly or rent cars often, those extra fees added on at the last minute has always bothered me, the rental cars especially.  But the one extra fee that I see a lot and really gets me upset is these mail order places that add a “handling” charge, i.e. shipping and handling.  The cost of that handling should be in the base price and they should only be allowed to charge the true shipping costs.  Now if your local grocery store tacked on a handling fee to cover costs of stocking the shelves with the product, you know everyone would be outraged over that.  What the mail order places do is no different.  They build their profit into the handling so if you return the product, you only get the cost of the product yet they get to keep their profit since you don’t get the handling charge back.

    1. “Handling” really means packaging costs.  They need to pay for a box, tape, and something to protect the contents (bubble wrap, air bags, foam peanuts, crumpled kraft paper, etc.).  I’ve tried pricing some of those things, and the retail price of a small corrugated cardboard box can be anywhere from 50 cents to $3 depending on where you buy it.  Of course the shipper buys everything in bulk at a good price.

      1. packing costs are part of doing business.  That would be like the store adding a surcharge on to your purchase to cover the cost of the shelving.  The packing is a known fixed cost so should be part of the price.

        1. It’s also an incentive to avoid having people order maybe a single inexpensive item rather than pooling several items in the same shipment.  That’s why a lot of sellers have free shipping/handling with a certain minimum purchase.  If they can assure themselves a reasonable profit to cover the shipping, it makes sense.  Otherwise, they’ll probably have to raise their prices to cover the cost of all that packaging.

          I do remember my free one-year Amazon Prime membership.  I was ordering single items for under $3 and getting them shipped 2 day for nothing on top of that.  I’m thinking they weren’t making that much off of me.  There’s a reason why they charge $79/year for the privilege.

  6. Thank you again for bringing this up. Airlines have to quote the fare inclusive of tax, but why not car rentals? I have a car reserved for next weekend where the taxes and fees are actually more than the base rate.

    Don’t forget about hotel resort fees. If they are mandatory…why are they not included in the hotels published rate? I’ve never been blindsided by a bag fee…but I have been by resort fees, once. It got me a packaged danish and a cup of coffee in the morning at an interstate motel.

    1. My rental for next weekend. (Contract ID hidden, the additional driver is included per the corporate contract) BTW…this is Phoenix.

      Base Rate – Economy (USD)(3) Day Rate ($10.70/day) $32.10
      Contract I.D. XXXXXXXGuaranteed Base Rate Included(1) Additional Driver IncludedUnlimited Miles Included
      DiscountsDiscount ($3.21)
      Taxes, Surcharges and FeesCustomer Facility Charge 6.00/day $18.00Concession Recovery Fee 11.11% $3.21Stadium Surcharge $2.50Vehicle License Surcharge 5 % $2.50Trans Priv Tax (11.30%) $5.66Fftxrsu (0.0%) $0.21
      Estimated Total…………………………………$60.97

  7. Local governments love to tax airport car rentals because most cars are rented by out of towners, not locals (voters). Orlando, like most of Florida, is geared towards taxing out of staters.

  8. I’ve been frustrated about car rental fees for years, I often get my final bill and 30% of the total bill is all extra fees.  I understand the rental fee, tax, and maybe an airport surcharge.  But then they add concession recovery fees, drop off fees, license fees, counter fees, I have even seen a tire wear fee at one.  It’s even worse when I use opaque sites as they don’t seem to disclose any fees, however, even when the car rental company site shows the fees, they always seem to throw on a few extra undisclosed ones after I return the car.  I hate comparing the $19.99 a day v. $22.99 a day rental rates, because the fees make that number pointless.  Not to mention the $500 dent fee they add 2 months later even though they examined the vehicle and said it was fine.
    Why does everyone complain about the airlines extra fees and no one mention the car rental fees?
    I can’t rent a car and decide I don’t want the drop off fee, or the counter fee, or the license fee.  I can still buy a plane ticket, pick a seat in the back of the plane, and use a smaller suitcase and not have to check my bag.  In my opinion the airline fees really are optional. Once in a while I may splurge for extra leg room or TV of a sandwich, but normally I never pay more than the ticket and tax.  With car rentals, I always get bamboozled with extra fees, and they are clearly not optional.
    I also recall people stating that the airlines did in fact lower their prices when the baggage fees started, though I didn’t really notice.

    1. My Latest Avis Receipt. I was quoted $176 for the rental initially, yet the bill came to $276.37.

      Time & Mileage                   176.00
      **11.11% FEE                    22.61
      LDW                                  0.00       
      $ 6.00 /DY CFC                   24.00    
      5.9% VEH LIC FEE               10.38    
      $ 0.79 /DY ERF                   3.16       
      SUBTOTAL                         250.14
      TAX 6.250%                      15.63
      $ 10.00 /RNTL CN               10.00
      $ 0.60 /RNTL PK                 .60
      Total Charges                     276.37

    2. Your claim of a $500 dent fee is outrageous!  I had the same type of thing happen to me.  I rented through Avis.  I returned the car on time and since I paid for the car at the time of the reservation, I expected and received a receipt for $00.00 owed at the time of my drop off.  On my next credit card statement I received a $212 extra charge from Avis.  When I called to find out what was up, they emailed me the result which consisted of;  A-the car was not returned on time. B-the tank was not all the way full. and C-there was, “damage” (not specified) to the passenger side door.  I appealed the charge with my credit card company and Avis. In my appeal were the photos I took of my rental car at the time of pick-up and drop off.  I had pictures of every side of the car, the gas tank gage when dropped off and next to that was the photo of the clock.  In between these photos was the one of the Avis employee as he was checking in my car.  The email I received back stating that, “after reviewing your claim, we found the charges applied to your account was the result of an accounting error. Please accept our apologies,” was a joke.  I emailed my complaint to various folks up the chain of command at Avis (a lot of info I found on this web site) and I received a lovely apology letter along with a credit for the entire cost of my rental…which was around $287.00!  My advice is..Always take pictures of your rental car…every single time!

        1. Actually the dent fee was with Hertz, not Avis.  And I disputed it and they never responded, so they reversed it.  But I still think it was ridiculous that they even tried.

  9. I am not happy about the fees by any means but they are disclosed. I have never rented a car and was not aware of all fees before I clicked the submit button. I do not think that consumers would accept an all-in price.

  10. Why isn’t there an option to be mad about all the extra fees and taxes on hotel/motel rooms?  I rarely see before I book all the “city lodging tax”, “state lodging tax”, “convention center surcharge” and other local fees designed to pay for local amenities such as concert arenas.  Then of course there’s the fee for the USA Today, the safe in the room, and on my last stay, the landline telephone in the room. 

    On the other hand, I do see the car rental fees listed before I book.  I just now checked the website of my preferred car rental agency, and they have Terms and Conditions listed on the front page of the rental, which do point to the existence of ancillary fees, which will be disclosed before booking in final.  At least those fees are disclosed *before* I book!

    1. Can you believe that I JUST stayed 3 nights in San Francisco and did not pay a resort fee, parking fee, newspaper fee or safe fee . . . I gotta stay with that hotel chain . . . 

  11. If you book very many rental cars, you should expect these fees.  I wish they could be included, but most are fees charged by the airports, local governments, etc., and the car companies really don’t have anything to say about them.  I don’t like that the charge is almost doubled, but it’s something you have to pay and are aware of before you book.  It’s just like that $25 for a bag

  12. I find airline fees more upsetting because the car rental numbers are much
    less and there are so many discounts available – with airlines you are more
    at their mercy.  But now that you mention it, almost doubling the base price
    really is outrageous, no matter the amount!

    1. WRONG — Rent a car in EU or AU and you will see.  They are  100% higher then airlines.   The fees can double or tripple your rates, here in the USA.  Try renting a car in Norway and see what you get.  MANDATORY INSURANCE ALSO

  13. The car rental companies allow Hotwire and Priceline, among others, to “destroy” their online prices…Unfortunately one must pay in advance, and the opaque companies only let you know what car rental company that you will be “assigned” to after receiving payment, but, the difference in price is most times, dramatic….The plus is that the price that you get is the final price, with no added fees…..unless you agree to such things as insurance….my recent rentals were $117 for a week in Jackson Wyoming (premium car) and $107 for a long weekend in Tampa (full size car)….every site I checked, from AAA to AARP to Costco was much more expensive….

  14. nothing they can do about the taxes and externally imposed fees — all rental companies face the same charges. The “energy recovery” fee is also a fact of life these days and a senior manager at Hertz told me this fee is only in effect when oil prices are above a certain level. As for the other add-ons, I agree — some of these companies (especially the 2nd teir ones) are just greedy. I have found that you can avoid some of the taxes and airport fees by finding a local (non-airport) location. Hertz and Avis have these all over major cities and sometimes the savings is significantly more than the cost of a cab to get there.

  15. I am not even sure that the issue is the disclosure of the fees on rental cars, but rather the fees themselves.  The fees are all disclosed before you hit the final purchase price, though I can see how some feel duped by the $25/day base rate that turns into a $50 total cost.  

    I have actually altered some of my personal travel plans to avoid airports with the worst rental car add-ons (i.e. Kansas City).  From what I have seen elsewhere, Orlando isn’t even THAT bad compared to other cities.  Orlando derives a TON of revenue from leisure travelers, as compared to a city like Kansas City or San Jose, which derive most of their out-of-town sales from business people.

  16. Then there’s the old joke:

    Buyer of a car: That sounds like a great buy…. I’ll take it.
    Salesman:  OK, let’s go over some extras.  I guess you’ll want a motor with that?  How about wheels?

    When the public gets angry enough, they will demand some rules and regulations about full disclosure of prices.  I hate to bring up the spector of class warfare, but I’ll bet the income and social IQ of flyers is higher than that of drivers. 

    This travel blog is the perfect beginning of a movement to get congress or the regulating agencies to demand full disclosure.

  17. Don’t know about the rest of the readers, but the reason I don’t get upset with car rental fees is that (a) they’ve been around long enough for me to guesstimate them, (b) sites like Travelocity and several of the car sites themselves give me an option to request the total cost, not just the daily cost, and (c) at least all of them are revealed at the end before purchase, unlike airlines with their checked baggage fee.

    1. It’s not just about optional fees like a checked bag fee…but an airline is required to quote a fare with ALL taxes and airport fees included. Why are car rental companies exempt from displaying a total cost up front with mandatory taxes and fees included?

      I agree with you about knowing enough about the car rental fees to guesstimate. I also know about bag fees and premium seat fees and factor that when choosing a flight based on price.

  18. Since there was no option for “neither”, I did not vote. Frankly, I do not get the “outrage” for either purchase, since in all cases you are told exactly what the charges will be before you actually make the purchase. I have different needs than other travelers, for example checked bags do not apply for me on certain airlines but do on others. To have one “all in” price would not work for me when comparing airlines. I do not have children so I do not need a child booster seat, and I have my own GPS system, so I do not need that option either. Those options may be necessities for others but not for me, so why make them part of the “all in” or one price fits all deal? 

  19. Renting a car is nuts and feels a little like rolling the dice in Vegas when gearing up to hit the “Next” button once you’ve made your vehicle choice.

    For fees to cost as much as the rental itself, something’s gotta be wrong with this system.  I’ve noticed the fees that seem to make the most difference are local taxes.

    Picking it up at an airport? There’s an airport tax (and, let’s just say it, the number of people picking up at an airport FAR surpasses those who don’t)

    Local tax?  This is a hospitality tax added on for using a RENTAL car.  This is tantamount to paying to check your bags on a plane but preference isn’t given to frequent user “club” members.

    Customer Facility charge – really?  We have to pay for you to be located where you might be needed most?  Really?

    Drop off fee – All I can say to this is, “WOW!”  So now we have to pay to both pick it up AND drop it off?  What would you have us do?  Leave it along the highway to be towed back to you?  Oh, wait, that’s still dropping it off.  This fee is pure greed, IMHO.

    I’m more than a little flabbergasted at this one.

  20. The outrage should be over car rental company admin and drop charge fees. I just returned from a UK trip, rented from Hertz for almost a month. A mystery fee of $151 showed up on my credit card over and above the rental fee. An email and two phone calls later, and turns out this is Hertz’s admin fee for forwarding a parking ticket! $151!! Not including the cost of the ticket, which I haven’t even received yet. Talk about gouging customers (I’ve been a Gold member since the mid-1980s)

  21. Mr. Elliott, I have been complaining (to the rental agencies) for a long time now. Is there a way we can start an “awareness” blitz in the media, so it could come before the public as often as the airline issues are aired? I have found it absolutely impossible to get a written acknowledgement (ahead of time) for the true cost of any vehicle I’ve rented in the past 3 years! And more often than not, it’s at least 1/3 more than the “base” rate (I never take any extras, like insurance, GPS, etc.). I actually think this is criminal, as it is definitely fraud.

    1. Print out the total quoted on the final screen — unless you add another driver, keep the car longer than booked (or return it sooner), take out insurance, or drop it off without a full tank, that final screen is the total.   And it clearly breaks down all the additional charges, as some examples above show.

  22. This problem most directly affects occasional travelers.  Those of us who travel frequently and often rent cars know that at some airports (IAH, for example) you double the quoted rate to estimate the actual cost.  It would be great if the rental companies were required to include the fees and taxes that are not optional.  Be strong at the rental desk, though, and be prepared to shout NO! NO! NO! to all of the add-ons that most of us do not need.

  23. Remember that there are two separate and distinct issues:

    1)  In many localities, the bulk of the “extra” charges are imposed by the community and/or airport authority — not the car rental company.  It’s not Hertz or Avis’s fault that a city is paying for their new convention center or fancy centralized car rental center by tacking a fee or tax on every car rental transaction. 

    2)  The lack of total cost // pricing transparency by many of the car rental companies very definitely IS their fault, though.

    As noted by several others, in some cases you can avoid surcharges by renting off-airport if you have the opportunity to do so.  A good example is Honolulu; where a couple of car rental companies provide shuttles from the airport to nearby (but off-airport) locations. 

    1. Joe if the extra charges are imposed byt the community/airport then INCLUDE THEM IN THE FEE.  It is not like they can avoid it.  But vehicle registration fees are a cost to the rental company that they pass on as added income tnat is not MANDATORY from the City?State etc.   Since the rental companies all of to pay the same MANDATORY items then include it in the total fee and then show the extra ‘REVENUE BOOSTERS” THAT just add to thier bottom line.  You can not rent off airport if the next rental if 10 miles from thei airport and you have no way to get there.


  24. The rental car companies have become worse than the airlines. Whenever I have to rent a car, I usually make a second reservation in case I have problems with unexpected fees or other surprises and have to walk away from the first. It’s come in handy. I know that sucks for their inventory control, but what choice have they left me?

    The ironic thing is that 15-20 years ago, when $26 per day meant $26 per day and no one was overcharging for scratches they had no intention of repairing, I used to rent cars much more often, such as for long trips. Now I avoid renting a car whenever possible. If they weren’t trying to fleece us, they’d probably make more money!

  25. Taxes are easy to work with, but user fees are up to the individual renting agency. My advise is always price + tax + 25%. That puts you close. Even though a car may be paid for in advance, thaere is a better than even chance that there will still be additional charges at pickup. The one thing for the airlines…..you won’t get a bill 6 weeks latter for you having damaged the wing.

  26. Speaking of rental cars and Orlando, have you ever seen the price for gas at the gas station across the street from Hertz?  Last time I was there, it was more than a buck more than a competitor a mile down the road!

  27. I chose the car rental place away from the Tampa airport because it was “cheaper,” but then I got socked with an “away from the airport” fee.  It didn’t call it that, but it was something about having to transport me on the “free” shuttles.  Bah!

  28. Sorry but what the rental agencey calls a “tax” and what i have learned after 25 years in tax practice what a tax is are two different things.   What they do is group their common operating expenses into what a tax item and call it a tax that they have to pass onto the renter.  So the property taxes that they pay on the vehicles are passed on as a “local city vehicle tax”, but if you go to Sears they do not add on a “local city vehicle tax” when you buy your dishwasher and have their truck deliver it.  Sears includes it into their “delivery fee” where as the car rental company wants to raise their rental fees so they add it on.   Next thing there will be a “vehicle utility service” for the lights that the car rental building is in when you fill out your car rental agreement, and a “water closet usage fee” for when you take a piss while waiting in line to rent the car.

  29. I haven’t rented a car in about 40 years so I can’t get mad about rental car add-ons. And I’m resigned to airline fees.

    My big beef is that the displayed price should include everything and be the final price one pays. Regardless of whether it’s a store window or on the Internet  or the sticker on a car at the dealer etc. So if someone has exactly what the price tag says in his pocket he can buy it.

  30. Orlando used to have the cheapest car rentals in the country . . . I remember renting a car there for a week in the early 2000’s for less than $125 for a week including all the fees and surcharges – sometime around 2005 it rapidly became one of the most expensive places to rent a car – does anyone know why?  

  31. We are going to a time share resort in Ft Lauderdale this month.  It would be more convenient to rent a car for the week. We are so turned off by car rental co. practices that we have decided to forego a rental  and use taxis & perhaps public transpo.  In the “old days”we would always book  a rental .
    Also we usually get to Europe once a year but to avoid the airlines  we are now cruising both ways. (until the cruise lines copy the airline & car rental tactics==then we will stay home)

  32. My two day rental from MIA including Airport Fee, Mandatory Charges , Unlimited Mileage was given in my confirmation email as $122.07.  My actual bill at the desk including no CDW, GPS or booster seat was $249.

    However the American system of add ons has created this culture.  Tax is non-negotiable so why not include it in the price.  It should not be up to the purchaser to work out how much it costs!.
    negotiable so why not include it in the price.  It should not be up to the purchaser to work out how much it costs!

  33. We just got one of these little beauties in the mail from Thrifty.  About $2 in tolls, and $25 for the Administrative Fee.  I just ordered my own SunPass for use when we travel to Florida.  I’d rather pay the $25 for the device once than $25 each time we rent a car.  There are way too many toll roads in Florida now that are pretty much unavoidable.  The rental car companies should install toll devices on all of their cars.  Would save them a lot of hassle, and their customers a lot of $.

  34. This is one of the reasons I avoid car rental to the greatest extent possible.  Unless absolutely necessary I use a car service.  Being met at the security exit and driven to your destination beats a crowded bus to some nasty parking garage where the wrong car has your name on it.  Carey’s bills have no hidden fees, time + tip + tolls and parking.  Overall, the cost averages about the same.  Tell the rental guys to keep their cars – AND their ludicrous fees!

  35. What about sales tax in NYC for parking, you see nice boards with $7.99/per half an hour + tax but you expect to pay regular 8.875% sales tax in NYC, but you wrong – it is going to be 13.875% because NYC charges 8.875+5% – renter tax?! Same applies to car rentals.

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