Last Updated on December 28, 2023 by Elizabeth

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If you’re renting a car with Hertz, be on the lookout for a brand new marketing pitch a day before you’re due to return the car. Renters now get a last-minute offer for its Hertz’s prepaid gas offer, which can be selected up to three hours before return time. Previously, you had to select the prepaid fuel option at the time of pickup.

Hertz’s Last-Ditch Prepaid Fuel Offer

A member of the AutoSlash team recently received an email pitch with the subject line: “Save time returning your vehicle to Ontario International Airport.” The limited-time offer let the driver “avoid refueling charges or a last-minute trip to the gas station.” In this case, the fuel price offered was “$3.94 x rental vehicle gas tank capacity.”

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This offer is for a full tank of gas, so if the vehicle’s tank holds 20 gallons, you’d pay $78.80. For a smaller car with a 15-gallon tank, you’d pay $59.10. If you return the car with a partially full tank, you will not receive credit for fuel left in the tank at the time of return.

The “Learn More” link led to a webpage with the actual offer, which expired three hours before the return time.

This is a smart marketing move on Hertz’s part, since the prepaid fuel add-on is a big money-maker for the company. Here, Hertz is simply taking another shot at upselling.

But is it a good deal for you, the customer? The cheapest option is always to refuel yourself and return the car with a full tank. But note that if for whatever reason you do not return the vehicle with a full tank, Hertz will fill the tank for you and charge you an exorbitant per-gallon rate (often $10 a gallon), which is more than twice the $3.94 offered here. In other words, this may be a crappy deal, but it’s not the worst case scenario.

If your day is spiraling off schedule and you know you’ll be rushing to return your car, then prepaying for gas can be a better deal than risking not being able to refill the tank before you return the car.

Why Prepaying for Gas is for Car Rental Chumps

  1. You have to return a completely empty tank. There’s no refund for the gas you left in the tank, so you’re paying for gas you may not use. Unless you return the car on fumes, you’re likely to overpay.
  2. You’ll also pay tax on the pricier gas. Here’s a dirty little secret about prepaid fuel pricing: The price you see at the pump includes all taxes, but the pricier prepaid fuel price offered by the car rental company usually does not.
  3. Prepaid prices don’t include credit card rewards. Some credit cards, like the Costco Anywhere Card by Citi, offer an extremely generous bonus on fuel fill-ups. If you buy the gas from the rental company, you won’t earn those cashback rewards.