8 Common Mistakes Car Rental Customers Make

At any given time, tourists, business travelers and many others will drive rental cars across the globe. Surely, a car rental service is a convenient way of getting around. However, costs associated with renting an automobile can often be a complicated web of confusion.

There are insurance add-ons that you’ll likely don’t need but end up paying extra. There are airport surcharges or additional accessories that add up to the fees charged to you. Also, renting a car is similar to buying one: you have to deal with the hard sell agents are going to offer. Although car rental seems to be the practical solution to provide comfort and convenience, you don’t have to pay more to enjoy such benefits.

Steering wheel of a BMW sedan.
Steering wheel of a BMW sedan. Credit: Toby_Parsons/Pixabay

Hence, we’re listing the common mistakes car rental customers make so you don’t have to go the same route.

Signing up for unnecessary insurance coverage

If you have your own car insurance policy, it might also cover for personal liability on car rentals. Also, some credit cards offer some sort of coverage to attract you into using them. Therefore, you could end up paying for extra insurance coverage you already have. Check your car insurance policy wording, and if you plan to use your credit card, review the benefits as well. This could save you extra dollars you could spend on gas or parking.

Paying for extra convenience

Some car rental companies are notorious for padding up costs just like low fare airlines charge for seat selection, extra luggage and food. You’ll get pitched for prepaid gas which likely charges you for fuel you won’t exhaust during your lease. You could be charged for “no show” fee if you cancel your car lease less than the required notice period.

Other fees may include extra stuff like child seat, GPS navigation, toll transponder and satellite radio, all of which are charged daily. It’s a mistake if you end up paying without really needing them, so make sure you review the charges before you sign off.

Renting in the airport

One of the lesser known hidden fees involved in car rental is that when it’s done in the airport. This fee appears in different names: airport surcharge, premium location surcharge, parking fees, and so on. You get the idea. Choosing a car rental service away from the airport saves you this extra fee. Let’s understand that operating the business from an airport stall is more expensive than in other less prominent place. This also explains why airport restaurant branches often serve more expensive menu than their counterparts elsewhere.

Failure to compare rental car services

Car rental companies offer a variety of offers and selecting one that matters to your needs saves you not only from paying extra, but also from the hassles and inconveniences service providers impose once you resist their offers. Use comparison websites such as CarRentalSavers.com and AutoSlash.com to both compare various services and also shop for coupons. AutoSlash also features tracking of rental rates and rebook for you once rate drops.

Failure to review special clauses

We understand reading the fine print commonly observed in insurance policies and rental agreements can be an excruciating experience. But such reaction from customer allows companies to hide certain clauses that often catch an unsuspecting client. For example, while many rental companies offer unlimited miles during the rental period, others set a specific cap in daily mileage. Those who exceed this limit are subject to flat-fee penalties or determined by how much you exceed the preset limit.

Failure to check the return of car

Timing of daily car rental lease is often on a 24-hour period but it’s best to check with your provider the cut off time. Failure to comply with this could mean late return fees or an extra day’s worth of rent. Other providers are more considerate and give you a half-hour grace period. Therefore, it’s best that you verify — checking both the terms of contract and a verbal confirmation from staff — before heading off.

Failure to make a thorough inspection

You need to inspect your rental car in a thorough manner before you drive away. Little dents and scratches outside or spills and stains inside that you did not cause might be charged to you. “If you see any wear, damage or defect during the inspection, make sure you immediately make the company aware – or you might end up paying for it,” says Angie Hicks, founder of AngiesList.com. Test the vehicle and if you find something that’s not right, voice it out.

Unable to take advantage of long-term offers

Some car rental services reward customers for long term commitment so check if the rate is uniform or savings are offered for longer leases. It could turn out that the price for your 3-day lease is almost the same as a weekly term. While this is not a mistake if you just need to use your car on a specified period. But longer keep could make your trip more worthwhile with more flexibility without spending extra on your car rental.


By renting a car instead of taking public transport, you are already conceding to spending more on travel costs. Committing these common mistakes on car leases further inflates your expenses. Avoid doing so by reviewing the list above. Have a safe rental car driving and a pleasant holiday!

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