Rental car tipsEach Friday, we feature a reader-submitted tip as our Travel Tip of the Day. This week’s tip comes from reader José, who says:

“When dropping off a rental car, such at an airport, always get a receipt from the attendant that says your car came back with a full tank (if you selected the option to fill it yourself in the rental agreement). Also fill up the car using a credit card, and not cash. If you need to drop off a car during off hours when an attendant is not available, also make sure you take a picture of your car’s license plate and fuel gauge on the dashboard to prove you left the car with a full tank.

Five years ago when the price of gas was significantly higher, I dropped off a rental car from one of the major rental companies at 430am at Reagan National to catch a very early flight. There were no attendants there that early in the morning, so I just left the car with the keys in it and a window down. A few days after arriving home, to my horror I discovered a charge on my credit card statement by the rental company for $70 for returning the car empty when I had returned it full.

I was able to get the charge reversed after calling the rental company customer service and telling them that I could prove I filled the car up since I could produce a charge on my credit card statement for fuel bought early that morning at a nearby gas station. I don’t know what would have resulted if I had used cash instead of a credit card to fill up my rental car.

Finally, I would like to think that the $70 charge was caused by an honest mistake, but with the price of gas much more expensive then and the car rental center being completely empty early that morning, I can’t help but wonder if the gas in my car was siphoned out by some thief!”

Thanks, José! For more rental car tips:



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Johnny Jet

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6 Comments On "Tips for Avoiding Gas Charges With Your Rental Car"
  1. Don Edmands, Jr.|

    I dropped off an Avis Rental in Berlin (Bahnhof) on May 22nd. The agent (picked-up final rental agreement) was a couple of floors above where I returned the rental…like to have never found the place under the Bahnhof! Anyway, Agent told me I didn’t fill-up the car. I said I did. She said no you didn’t! I produced diesel receipt…end of conversation. Also, I have rented in Germany many times. I use a rental agency in the U.S. that I prepay ($USD) for the rental. At checkout I usually pay some addition tax or charge, but not much. The Avis Agent refused to acknowledge I had prepaid the rental and I had to pay again. After a couple of days and several emails/phone calls, the amount was credited back to my credit card. KEEP ALL PAPERWORK NO MATTER HOW INSIGNIFICANT!

    1. Johnny Jet
      Johnny Jet|

      Good tip!

  2. Gary Lawrence|

    May I also suggest you keep your boarding pass and itinerary for several months after the flight home. We left a car fully fuelled and parked in the MacKay Queensland Australia airport rental lot. Of course the rental was not open and we dropped the keys in the drop-off spot. About 2 months later we got a charge of about $75 on our credit card for late drop off. Sadly the rental company had no toll free number for their Australia office so I had to call on my dime (many dimes actually). We finally got a refund but it was not as easy as one might expect.

  3. Rich Y|

    I always print a receipt at the pump. Learned my lesson the hard way long ago.
    It shows the location and the amount of gas purchased. Have been accused of not filling even with an attendant present several times, more than once at a Hertz at a particular airport.

  4. Ray Chartrand|

    Since the average car easily gets 20 plus MPG you may want to fill up one or two exits before the airport where gas is significantly cheaper
    Once saw a $1.50 a gallon difference at Orlando between on airport gas station and one a few miles away

    1. Johnny Jet
      Johnny Jet|

      good tip!

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