Car rental is a large part of any vacation. It may also be convenient if your vehicle has to go into a garage for an extended amount of time. When you first check rental car company’s rates, you may feel that they offer a reasonable rate for the day. Yet, by the time they add on the “additional” charges, you can end up paying nearly double for that daily rental rate.

Here’s what you need to be aware of when it comes to those costly charges:


The rental car you reserved online for a great price may be the basic model. This means, no extras. At the rental counter, you may be offered a choice of upgrades to “have better-driving experience.” You should not feel pressured into accepting any of these upgrades especially if you have already fixed your budget. Your Smartphone can most likely provide you with all of the GPS directions and music required for your trip.

Insurance Cover

Insurance cover is a large additional cost. You absolutely must be insured but your own driver’s policy may already cover you. If you do not take the coverage, then the rental car company may put a certain amount on your credit card on “hold”. They are basically covering themselves in case of an accident. You should ask about this before agreeing to the rental. If it is only a few extra dollars, then it may be worth taking for the added peace of mind.

Late Fees

Car rental companies are very strict with their time. If you require a car at 3:00 pm, then it must be returned by 3:00 pm on the date you return it. If you turn up at 4:00, then you might be charged for an extra day’s rental. Things can happen such as traffic and other delays. That is why you need to check out any potential late fees. And if you know you are going to be late, then phone the company and let them know. They may waive any late fees as you have kept them informed and are a repeat customer.

Do Your Own Vehicle Inspection

Before you leave the pick-up point with the rental, you should do your own walk-around vehicle inspection. Check for any scratches, dents, or other damage. If possible, do the walk-around inspection with the representative from the rental car company. They have a form to complete that highlights the vehicle condition along with any damage. As soon as you leave the pick-up point you will be responsible for any damage whether you caused it or not. That can be very costly.

Road Toll Charges

You are the one responsible for any tolls on the road. Many rental cars can have a built-in toll pass. That means you can drive through the toll but will be charged when returning the vehicle. You could defer this by paying your own tolls as you go.

Administration Fees

Administration fees can be added on for anything from filling it up with gas to cleaning the car. Those costs are avoidable by returning the car with a full tank of gas and in a reasonably clean condition. In fact, you may be offered the opportunity to have the gas paid for in advance. Do not do that as it will be an additional charge and you will likely find cheaper gas elsewhere.

The more aware you are of these hidden charges, the better rental experience you will have.