Last Updated on June 2, 2021 by Michael

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Kansas City car rentals are famous for one reason. They leave you feeling nickel and dimed. One of the more egregious sets of fees assessed on rental cars takes place in KCMO.

For many business visitors to Kansas City, a rental car is almost a necessity. The airport lacks a decent mass-transit option to a downtown that’s 20 miles away. At one time, the city charged a tax to fund a light rail system that was never built. The closest thing to mass transit is the 18 bus shuttles each day from the airport to downtown.

Fees Imposed on Kansas City Car Rentals

The city imposes a $4-per-day Downtown Arena Fee designed to pay for the city’s new sports venue. Rent a car at the airport or a downtown location, and you make a donation for the arena. Lots of municipalities have introduced rental car fees to pay for various infrastructure projects, but typically airports are subject to this type of fee, not downtown locations.

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Kansas City imposes a rental car fee for every day of your car rental. That’s unusual, as most of these fees have limited durations.

  • Boston’s fee to fund its Convention Center Fee of $10 is charged once per month. So whether you rent a car for a day or a month, the fee is the same.
  • New Jersey’s Domestic Security Fee of $5 per day is collected only once for the first 28 days of a rental.

Worse yet, Kansas City International Airport imposes additional fees on rentals. Here’s the macro view:

  • $3 Customer Facility Charge for every day of the rental (and then taxed).
  • $2.36 Transportation Facility Charge for every day of the rental (and then taxed).
  • $4 Downtown Arena Fee for every day of the rental (and then taxed).

Why You Can’t Get a Cheap Car Rental in Kansas City

You might assume that no local government is stupid enough to assess more than $15 per day in rental car taxes. Well, Kansas City, Missouri has never found a tax it doesn’t like.

The elephant in the room with Kansas City rental car taxes is the Downtown Arena Fee. Fifteen years ago, downtown had an arena called the Kemper Arena. Then, someone suggested that rental car taxes could fund the arena. The awesome new arena was certain to bring an NBA or NHL team to Kansas City, they said.

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So Kansas City built the Sprint Center, but no professional sports team came. A professional team at the facility would have helped cover the day-to-day operating costs, but rental car customers are doing it instead.

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