Last Updated on March 19, 2024 by Michael


Flying into Denver? Whether you rent a car at the airport or at an off-airport location, you won’t be able to avoid paying the dreaded airport fees on Denver car rentals if you pick up the car within 20 miles of the airport. Anyone who has flown into Denver International Airport (DEN) within 24 hours of picking up a rental vehicle is subject to all airport fees, unless you pick up the car more than 20 miles away.

Denver officials define the term “airport customer” very broadly. You are an airport customer if you fly into the airport, and rent a car within 20 miles of the airport and within 24 hours of landing.

Denver airport

Airport Fees for Denver Car Rentals

The Customer Facility Charge

The airport authority requires this fee, so it is a more traditional tax. Fly into Denver International Airport and rent a car within a day of arrival, and you’ll pay $2.15 per day.

Denver airport

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The Concession Recovery Fee

Airport authorities don’t mandate this fee, but the rental car company gets a slice of revenue. It also puts the airport’s cut in its own bucket.

Denver International Airport is one of the few airports that is transparent in offering online access to its regulations. There’s no reference to an 11.1% Concession Recovery Fee but there is a requirement that the rental car company (whether on-airport or off-airport) provide 10 percent of its gross revenues to the City and County of Denver.

Here’s a quick lesson in rental car math: Let’s assume a rental car company wants to clear $100 for a rental. The rental car company adds a 11.1 percent Concession Recovery Fee. The total charge is $111.10, 10 percent of which goes to the airport. So the airport gets $11.10 and the rental car company clears $100.

But what if you did not fly into Denver International Airport? You might still get stuck paying for the airport-related taxes and fees with Avis, Budget, and Hertz. When we booked from the Avis-Budget location in Aurora, Colorado, the bill included the Customer Facility Charge and Airport Recovery Fee. Same story at Hertz’s nearby Stapleton location.

Denver airport

Even if you select the “not flying” option, you still get fees added to your bill. This is a money grab.

Denver airport

“Not flying” but stuck paying $23.45 in airport taxes and fees at a neighborhood location.

Denver airport

“Not arriving via airline or train” but still charged $19.10 for airport fees.

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There is no legitimate reason for rental car companies to impose these charges for passengers not flying. If you are not flying into Denver, be sure to check your invoice and insist on the removal of the fees.

Passenger Rail Service Fee

As of March 2024, Colorado legislators were planning to introduce a bill that would increase the state fee on rental cars by $2 to $3 per day to help pay for proposed passenger rail service along the Front Range, according to the Colorado Sun. That’s $10-15 extra for a five-day rental, maybe not egregious but still annoying.

The fee would generate as much as $50 million annually, which the state would use for matching funds for federal grant programs — specifically targeting the $60 billion for rail projects in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Essentially, car renters will foot the bill for the rail project.