4 Easy Steps To Avoid Car Rental Fuel Charges

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.

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Car Rental and Car Hire Fuel Policies Explained

The different fuel policies offered by car rental and car hire companies can be very confusing. In this article I will explain the various options.

The golden piece of advice here is to know exactly what your options are before you book. At the very least, know what your obligations are before you drive away to save yourself additional expense and aggravation later.

OPTION 1: Full to Full

This is by far the most common default policy used worldwide and in my opinion, it also the easiest to understand and fairest for the customer. It is very simple. When you pick up your car it is full of fuel and it is your responsibility to return it full at the end of the rental.

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Winter Driving Tips and Advice

Driving in winter’s messiest weather can be a stressful and potentially dangerous endeavor. Bearing this in mind, the best advice is to stay home. Just. Stay. Home. Unless there is a truly compelling reason to be out in the storm, put off travel until roads have been treated and cleared.

Here are tips if you do find yourself in an unavoidable winter driving situation.

Keep your headlights on and clear of snow and ice. Clean your windshield off completely. (Go fill your wiper fluid right now!)

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Child Seats and your Rental Car

When traveling with small children and renting a car, car seats are certainly a requirement. Deciding whether to schlep your own along or rent one at the car dealership will depend on availability, convenience, and personal preference.

Most big name car rental companies will have a limited number of car seats available to rent for an additional fee. These go on a first come, first-served basis, so be sure to reserve them far ahead of when you will need them. You will also need to specify the type of car seat you need. For example, you will need something that can be installed rear-facing for an infant while a simple convertible car seat or booster seat will be appropriate for different aged children.

Keep in mind that some rental companies will require you return the car seat to the location you rented it from. It is likely you will need to install the car seat yourself. There is a good chance you will need to put down a refundable deposit when renting a car seat.

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Airport Car Rental - What You Need to Know

If you’re planning to pick up or drop off your next car rental at the airport there are a few things you should know before you head on your way.

Some car rental offices are located inside the airport terminal while others are located off premise. The fleet of rental cars is generally located either in a lot attached to the airport or a shuttle-ride away in a satellite lot.

For large international airports with multiple terminals, it’s important to reserve your rental car in the terminal you will be traveling through, you don’t want to hike all over the airport if you can help it. Many terminals operate independently so if you reserved your car in terminal one that’s where you will need to go to sign documents and pick up your car. Car rental counters are typically located near the baggage claim area and posted signs will guide you to your destination.

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Renting a Manual Car Could Save You Money

If you’re looking to save money on your next trip, booking a manual transmission rental car could save you a bundle.

Rental cars in the U.S. and now in Australia are customarily automatic transmission, however in Europe standard (manual) transmission is more popular and often more affordable. So if you want to rent an automatic, be prepared to pay a premium. Renting a car with an automatic transmission can be significantly more expensive, higher still during peak travel periods.

When renting outside the U.S. you will need to specify manual or automatic transmission when reserving your car. If booking online, it is usually made very clear what type of transmission each option has. Manuals are less expensive to rent and more widely available with a far greater selection available. Automatic vehicles in Europe tend to be larger, family or luxury models or minivans.

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How to Avoid Being Charged for Pre-Existing Damage to Your Rental Car

Rental car companies will inspect cars carefully upon return; do yourself a favor and perform your own inspection before driving off the lot. A little extra time and effort at the beginning of your trip will save you undue charges later on.

Walk all the way around your rental car and inspect the exterior. Take note of even small dents and scratches. If possible, check the roof. Inside the car, look for rips or tears in the upholstery and fabric. Check the ceiling and back seats. Scratches, dents, and damages to glass or bumpers are the most common claims.

Document any damage in writing on an official form or rental agreement from the rental company. Be sure to get an employee to verify and sign the forms. Both the rental company and you should have a copy of any forms that indicate pre-existing damage. It is very important that you have something in writing signed by an employee. In a perfect world, an employee would accompany you to your rental car and assist you with the inspection. In reality, you may have to track someone down.

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International Driving Permits

An International Driving Permit (IDP) is an official document that provides a translation of important information from your driver’s license. The permit contains your name, photo and driver information translated into 11 languages, including English.

International driving permits are recognized in over 150 countries today. Many countries that do not recognize US, UK, Australian or other driver’s licenses do officially recognize an IDP. Additionally, some countries only honor valid US, UK or Australian driver’s licenses when accompanied by a local language translation, satisfied by the IDP.

Carrying an international driving permit along with a valid driver’s license from your home country, can help with language barriers when traveling in non-English speaking countries. The IDP also serves as an additional source of identification. So, buying an IDP prior to your trip can save a lot of potential time-consuming headaches. If you need to communicate with foreign authorities, an IDP can be a big help.

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Renting under the age of 25

The situation for young drivers isn't as restrictive as it was even a few years ago when most major car rental companies didn't allow anyone under 25 to rent. These days drivers age 21 to 24 are permitted to rent at most locations operated by Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Europcar, Hertz, National, Sixt and Thrifty subject to additional fees, requirements and restrictions.

In most cases these drivers are required to pay a daily surcharge that can vary by company and location. Additionally, restrictions generally apply to the categories of cars that young drivers are permitted to rent. Typically high passenger vehicles and luxury cars are off limits, however, some companies and locations will allow these vehicles to be rented for an additional fee.

Drivers ages 18 to 21 are generally unable to rent from most companies and locations. In the United States, New York and Michigan state laws require agencies to rent to drivers ages 18 and older. However, hefty fees and restrictions apply. There are other countries and companies that allow younger drivers but again there are usually additional costs and restrictions involved.

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