Last Updated on August 28, 2022 by Michael


Its name promises low rates, but Payless Car Rental reviews reveal that the company has a dubious reputation for sticking it to consumers with hidden fees and high-pressure tactics at the rental counter.

Should you give Payless a try? Here’s our take on the good, the bad and the ugly.

Who Owns Payless Car Rental

Payless has been around since the early 1970s. In 2013, the Avis Budget Group acquired Payless. The company is part of what the industry calls the “deep-value segment,” which means it focuses extensively on cutting costs.

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Often Payless achieves this by renting older or higher-mileage vehicles, using off-airport locations that require a shuttle bus, and high-pressure sales tactics to push consumers to opt for add-on services, which they may not need or want. Payless has about 120 locations nationwide, and you’ll find them at the biggest U.S. airports.

The Good

We know renters are looking for the absolute lowest rate on rental cars. Indeed, Payless’s base rate is often substantially lower that the rates of other firms.

The Bad

Without a doubt, we receive more complaints about Payless than any other rental company. The objections are rather predictable and almost always related to hardball upsell customers receive, including for the “optional” Roadside Assistance. According to the Payless website, this service is optional:

Once you opt for the Roadside Assistance service, AutoSlash is unable to intervene if you are unhappy with the steep upcharge. Depending upon the Payless location, a week of Roadside Assistance coverage can approach the annual cost of a reputable service like AAA.

The Ugly

In January 2016, the New York Times reported that it was nearly impossible to file complaints . And even when consumers filed complaints, Payless tended to ignore them.

In July of the same year, the NYT reported that Payless charged customers for refueling vehicles, even when the vehicle was returned full and even when customers could prove that the car had been refueled based upon published policies.

In August 2016, the NYT reported that Payless played nasty during credit card disputes . When customers won credit card disputes against Payless, the company ostensibly followed up with letters of “Debit Advice” demanding that customers send the awarded amount to a dubious address: 32961 Collection Center Drive, Chicago, Illinois. Payless then cashed those checks to recoup the cost of their lost credit card disputes.

As David Segal (The Haggler of the NYT) noted at the time, “if Payless is still demanding that customers send money they don’t owe to a street called Collection Center Drive, it has problems that Avis Budget isn’t eager to solve.”

Lawsuits and More

“The pattern of unlawful and fraudulent conduct is almost unlimited in its creativity. The scams take every imaginable form.”

This is an excerpt from a 52-page class-action lawsuit submitted September 26, 2016, against Payless Car Rental and parent firm AvisBudget Group in the U.S. District Court of New Jersey.

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In 2017, The Better Business Bureau issued a rare nationwide warning about Payless Car Rental after receiving more than 800 complaints about Payless in the previous three years. Subsequently, the BBB gave the company an F rating and urged attorneys general in four states — California, Florida, New Jersey and Oklahoma — to investigate Payless.

Payless Car Rental Reviews Online

On, common complaints against Payless Car Rental range from getting overcharged and poor customer service to allegations of a bait and switch operation.

On Trust Pilot, Payless has a rating of 1.5 stars out of a possible 5 stars. In all, 86% of reviewers categorize Payless as “bad” compared to 8% who rate Payless as “good.”