It is easy to avoid excessive fuel charges when you hire a car for your holiday. Our simple tips will help you avoid paying any more than necessary.
Firstly, be aware of whether or not fuel is included in the cost of your rental. When the initial tank of fuel is included you can safely return with an empty fuel tank.
When the initial tank of fuel is not included, then the following will apply. The car must be returned full or you must pay for fuel when you collect. If you pay when you collect, then you can return empty. If you prefer to return empty, then ask to pay for the tank on arrival. It is important to note not all companies will permit this. Some companies make additional revenue by charging a ‘fuelling fee’. It is essential to know what you are required to do before you leave the desk or car park.
If you fill the tank before you return to the depot – obtain a receipt! This simple act will protect you from any excessive charges. At the end of a holiday, whether a cheeky weekend in Europe or a wonderful holiday in the USA, it can seem sensible use up some of that foreign cash to pay for the fuel as you return. It is really very common practice, and absolutely fine as long as you get your receipt from the gas station.
When you return the rental car, the fuel level will be checked by the attendant. However, sometimes something seems to happen between the car being logged in as full and the rental agreement being officially closed off on the system. and the fuel shows up as only half-full (or worse) and a refuelling charge is billed to your credit card within 24 hours of you being told that you have no charges.
Even worse, if you were expected to return the tank full and don’t, then the refuelling charge is astronomic – nearly $10 per gallon! When you check your rental agreement you will find that you have agreed to this charge (usually it is written very small!).
3 steps to avoid excessive fuel charges in a hire car:
√ Be absolutely clear about whether you need to refuel or not
√ Obtain a fuel receipt
√ Keep your fuel receipt for at least 28 days
If you have a receipt – whether you paid by cash or card – the receipt will note the time and location of the transaction. The car hire companies will accept that as evidence of refuelling and remove or refund their charge. Without a receipt, you have a more difficult job to get a refund. Crucially, if you paid with cash and have no receipt it is impossible to prove that you did. It will be your word against theirs and with no evidence to the contrary, you will have paid twice for the fuel.