« When it comes to risk, things aren't always as bad as they seem | Main | Why is Canada's consumer confidence so low? »

December 21, 2021

The car rental fees you didn't know about

Heading south sometime this winter? Maybe you should bring your own car this time.

AdIf not, remember that the advertised price for a rental car bears no relationship to the price you will actually pay, especially at big city airports, reports Consumer Traveller. And those costs are likely to go up.

In the U.S, Arizona, Texas and Florida seem to add some of the highest mandatory extra fees but the additional charges are pretty significant everwhere you go.

While these extra charges usually show up in the estimated total shown on the screen, you won't find them in the base rate, largely to drive profits, CT explains. Here's what to watch for, warns Independent Traveler. 

Discount rates are available, of course. Many travelers, for example, have corporate rates through their companies or can plug in CAA/AAA, AARP or consortium rates to see which rate comes out lower.

All of these discounts, ranging from five percent to flat rates that can almost cut a rental price in half, have one thing in common though — they don’t apply on many surcharges. This means, that the customer facility fee, vehicle licensing fee and so on aren't discounted in the same way, CT says.

Expect fees and surcharges to continue and for new ones to be added as quickly as municipalities, states and the companies themselves look for ways to boost prices. In Phoenix, for example, rental car drivers are dinged to help pay for the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.

While they didn't create them, car rental companies don’t lobby hard enough to have such fees removed, says consumer advocate Christopher Elliott.

Maybe you should help them a bit.

Should car rentals companies disclose all mandatory fees up front? Have you been stung by the ever-increasing bill?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



Post a comment


Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...