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5 Common Car Rental Rip-Offs

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Rental car companies are experts at finding little ways to charge you more. So how can you avoid the most common car rental rip-offs?

On top of the daily rate, you’ve got taxes, fees and surcharges for any extra perk or slight infringement that may happen. Here are the top five ways rental cars are ripping you off and how to protect yourself.

Why Pre-Paid Gas is a Big Rip-off

Pre-paying for gas in your rental car is one of the biggest car rental rip-offs. Rental companies typically offer two options on gas.

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Why You Should Watch Out for Phantom Damages

Rental car companies keep careful track of any damages to their fleet, but sometimes hard-to-see damages don’t get reported immediately. If you sign an agreement upon pickup saying that that the car didn’t have damage, you can be held responsible if the damage is discovered later when you return the car. There are countless horror stories of renters who get saddled with huge damage bills and claims on their primary insurance with little recourse.

To avoid this, take the time to carefully inspect the vehicle before you sign the paperwork. Even if there isn’t paperwork to sign, it’s your responsibility to inspect the car and alert the agent to any damage. We suggest taking 360-degree photos of the car or using a free app like Record360 to document the condition of the car when you pick it up. Don’t forget to bend down and get anything that might not be at eye level, and pay attention to the tires. Repeat this process when you return the car so that you have a record that no damage occurred on your watch. Save your images or video for a few months after the rental to make sure you’re in the clear.

Why Car Rental Insurance is a Rip-off

Rental car companies make millions of dollars each year off their customers’ anxiety and uncertainty at the counter. If you purchase all the various insurance options from the rental car company, it can add up to a daily charge of up to $50 per day.

Know before you go:

Why You Should Avoid Unnecessary Add-Ons

Rental companies just love add-ons, but they are car rental rip-offs. These fees rake in extra revenue that is practically all margin. Two major add-on culprits? GPS devices and toll transponders.

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Remember GPS devices—those clunky contraptions that sat on the car dashboard until they skidded off into your lap during a speedy turn? Rental car companies still rent GPS systems to customers who still haven’t figured out that smartphone apps will let them navigate for free.

Car rental companies will offer toll transponders for electronic toll billing programs such as E-ZPass or FasTrak—at a healthy mark-up for themselves. The good news is that you can easily avoid paying rental car toll surcharges with a little bit of advance planning. If you’ve got a transponder that is valid where you’ll be driving, you can pack it and use it on your trip.

Why Frequent Car Rental Price Changes are a Rip-off

You’ve booked a car and you’ve locked in a $25-off coupon. You’re all set, right? Think again. Rental car companies typically use dynamic pricing, meaning that rates are constantly changing. It’s one of our most hated car rental rip-offs.

Ask AutoSlash for a quote and we’ll automatically search for and apply all publicly available coupon codes plus any other available discounts based on memberships you hold in programs such as Costco or AAA.

After you have a reservation, ask AutoSlash to track your rate and we will watch your rental until the day you pick it up. You’ll receive an email if we spot a better price so you can lock it in. Rest easy, because AutoSlash will always make sure you get the best rate.


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