Last Updated on January 16, 2021 by Michael
Most car rentals come with unlimited mileage, but that’s not always the case. There are still many examples of geographic restrictions, and rental companies can get miffed if a renter drives too many miles in an “unlimited” rental, in extreme cases even putting drivers who rack up excessive miles on the Do Not Rent list.
While you may have come to take unlimited mileage for granted, the concept is a fairly recent innovation. Some car companies adopted the practice in the 1970s but it not become widespread until two decades later. Even today, you might come across rentals with a limited number of included miles, incurring per-mile surcharges for each mile driven over the allowance just like in a long-term vehicle lease.
Car Rentals Without Unlimited Mileage
A common example of a limited-mileage rental is a special offer such as Enterprise’s recurring weekend promotion, which limits you to 100 miles per day. Enterprise also offers rates with unlimited mileage, so you have the choice of booking a promotional rate where mileage is limited or a discounted rate with unlimited miles.
Special promotions aren’t the only time when mileage restrictions come into play. We see mileage restrictions abroad, in remote airfields, and on exotic or very expensive vehicles. These limits can be very strict, all the way down to zero included miles per day. A tiny percentage of rentals outside the U.S. require paying to rent the car, then paying a charge for every mile driven.
When AutoSlash sends you a quote, you’ll see the mileage limitations before you book. If the only available rates include zero miles, we’ll send you a heads-up about this restriction even before you receive quotes. And if we’re tracking your rate, we never send out quote for a lower rate that includes fewer allowed miles than the original reservation. We always compare apples to apples.
Car Rentals with Zero Included Miles
Fortunately, zero-mile rentals are exceptionally rare. but pop up internationally, such as the case below from Portugal. Other scenarios include exceptionally remote airports in Canada where there’s only one rental car company and maintaining vehicles is more of a chore than in other locations.
Varying Mileage Restrictions at Same Rental Car Company
Sometimes you see varying mileage restrictions within the same rental company, with the limited-miles restrictions placed on luxury and exotic vehicles. For instance, Avis at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport might offer unlimited mileage on a mid-size elite vehicle such as a Mercedes E350 or a premium elite crossover such as a BMW X5, but draw the line at 150 miles on rentals of Corvettes.
Airports Where Rental Cars Have Limited Miles
Rarer still are remote airports where all the rental car options come with mileage limits. An example is Glacier Park International Airport. Yet even then, you can compare rates and various mileage caps. In our price check, the cheapest Dollar rental has a 175-mile cap, the cheapest Budget vehicle has a 300-mile cap, and the cheapest rental at National has a 375-mile cap. Note that there is typically an inverse relationship between rates and mileage caps—the cheaper the rate, the stricter the cap.
Do Not Tamper with the Odometer in a Rental Car
Do not attempt to get around mileage limitations by tampering with the vehicle’s odometer. Renters who get caught with rollback fraud can expect:
- Charges and fees for the unauthorized modification of the vehicle
- A permanent ban from the rental company (the Do Not Rent list)
- Potentially an overage fee calculated at 500 or more miles.