Stupid Tip of the Day: Watch Out for the Rates of One-Way Car Rentals

L iving in the United States typically means that certain things can usually be taken for granted: complimentary refills of soft drinks in most restaurants; and unlimited miles with car rentals…

Stupid Tip of the Day: Watch Out for the Rates of One-Way Car Rentals

…but watch out for the rates of one-way car rentals, as they can initially be deceiving.

Using Avis as a random example, let us price a car in the Intermediate class to rent one way from Atlanta to Gulfport — a distance of approximately 4oo miles — for Wednesday, January 18, 2017 for a duration of 24 hours.

One-Way car rental rates

Source: Avis.

We know that taxes and fees will be added to the rate of $41.00, which is not a bad rate for the use of a rental car for one day.

One-Way car rental rates

Source: Avis.

Sure enough, the total rental for the day will be $57.44, including all taxes and fees — it is nice to see the total in bold red numerals — but is that really what you will pay when you return the car?

One-Way car rental rates

Source: Avis.

Look again: no miles are included with this rate. You will be expected to pay 0.4 United States dollars — 40 cents — per mile. Assuming you simply drive the distance from Atlanta to Biloxi with no side trips whatsoever, you will incur an additional cost of $160.00. Add the $57.44 to that; and your total bill when you drop off the rental car becomes $217.44 for 24 hours.

One-Way car rental rates

Source: Avis.

Depending on the “discount” rate code which you use, your rate might be presented another way. In the above example — all of the information is exactly the same except for the discount rate code used — the base rate is $189.89…

One-Way car rental rates

Source: Avis.

…but this rate includes unlimited miles; and when the fees and taxes are added, your total bill when you drop off the rental car becomes $240.15 for 24 hours — which is certainly no bargain.

The base rate increased substantially to $189.89 because included in that rate is a “drop-off” charge which can be included on one-way vehicle rentals.

Summary

Avis is certainly not the only rental car company which engages in this practice — most car rental companies in the United States do this — and it is legal. You just need to be diligent in reading all of the details pertaining to your potential contract prior to renting the vehicle — or at least before paying for the rental in advance.

By the way, it will soon be time for rates on car rentals from Florida one-way to certain destinations to be as low as $7.95 per day — and my experience suggests that those rates typically include unlimited miles with no drop-off charges. The only extra costs are taxes and fees, which are usually minimal.

Source: Avis.

3 thoughts on “Stupid Tip of the Day: Watch Out for the Rates of One-Way Car Rentals”

  1. Mike says:

    Thank you for this. I’m seeing this on Avis now. What would happen if you book it as “Round trip” then just drop it off at another location?

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Rental car companies often charge extra when you return a car to a different facility because then it is considered a one-way rental instead of a round trip, Mike — especially when it is not included in the contract.

      One exception may be if you are returning the rental car to a different facility within the same city — but don’t count on it.

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