The mysterious charge that appears on your credit card after you return the rental car for missing fuel is annoying and virtually impossible to dispute and have reversed. It’s your word against the car rental companies. We outline the issue with examples in this article - After Rental Fuel Charges - A Common Complaint.
Fear not though. There is a way to protect yourself.
Follow the 4 steps outlined below and rest easy in the knowledge that you have an iron clad paper trail that a car rental company can't argue with. At the bottom is a simple infographic outlining each of the steps. Save it to your phone or tablet to use as a reference next time you rent a car.
1. Take photos when you pick up the car
Before you even leave the car park after getting the keys to the car, take a photo with your phone or camera (which will record the date and time that the photo was taken) of the fuel gauge and the miles/km on the tachometer. This is evidence of your starting point.
2. Fill up immediately after collecting the car
This step is annoying but it is key and here’s why. Filling up when the car looks full sounds ridiculous but remember, the car rental company will check when you return that the car is full “to the brim” regardless of what the fuel gauge says so why shouldn’t you hold them to the same standard. Here is what you do.
At the nearest gas station, take another photo of the fuel gauge and the miles/km on the tachometer. This gives you evidence of how far you drove from when you picked up the car (remember the photo above) and when you filled up. Ideally it should be only a few miles/km. When you fill it up make sure you fill it “to the brim” – don’t just rely on the first click. Take an extra 30 seconds to slowly get it full right to the top. You might find that the car will take a few litres or a couple of gallons to fill – great evidence for you that the car wasn’t completely full when you picked it up. An extra dollar spent here could be invaluable to you later - consider it a cheap insurance policy. Make sure you keep the receipt as evidence of how much fuel you had to put in. This will also show the address of the gas station you used and the date and time that you filled up.
3. Fill up just before you return the car
As close to the location where you are dropping off the car as you can you need to fill up the car and make sure it’s to the brim, not just the first click. Take yet another photo of the fuel gauge after you fill up and the miles/km on the tachometer as this will provide evidence of how far you drove after the final fill up to the drop off location. Again, make sure you keep the receipt for the same reasons outlined above.
4. Just before you hand over the keys at the rental location
Take one last photo of the fuel gauge showing full and the miles/km on the tachometer. Also make sure that the receipt you are given by the return agent at the car rental location shows that the car was returned full and that the miles/km recorded when you returned the car is correct.
Follow these 4 steps and you have rock solid evidence that the car was completely full when you returned it. You might even have evidence from step 2 that the car wasn’t completely full when you picked it up. Now if you find one of these annoying charges on your credit card after your rental is over you have everything you need to dispute the charge and have it reversed. There is no way that a car rental company could dispute your claim with all of the evidence that you will be able to provide by following these 4 easy steps.