Have you booked your car rental for your next vacation? Think you know what the cost will be? Beware of car rental hidden fees. You may be paying more than you’re expecting.
I took a trip not to long ago and picked up a car rental at the airport. After my trip, I returned the car and picked up my receipt. That should be it, right? Sadly, no. After I returned home, I found I had been charged not only for tolls but the convenience fee of using the toll transponder in the rental car.
Most car rental companies have a toll transponder in each of their vehicles. This is supposed to make it easier for you. You can just simply drive through the toll booths without having to stop and the transponder will calculate your tolls that you owe at the end of your trip. Great deal, huh? Not so much. Once you pay your first toll, a convenience fee goes into effect. This fee is charged each day until the end of your rental period or you hit their maximum.
Here are some of the car rental convenience fees:
- Alamo, AVIS, Budget, National, Enterprise: $3.95 per day, maximum $19.75 per month
- Dollar, Thrifty: Enroll in PlatePass or $15.00 admin fee per toll, maximum $105.00 per rental period
- Hertz: $4.95 per day, maximum $24.75 per rental period
My bill actually reflected a convenience fee for each day of the car rental even though the toll was incurred on the last day of the car rental. After a call to the car rental company, they reversed the convenience fee for all of the days except the last one. But, I still ended up paying triple what the actual toll would have been as the charge was the convenience fee plus the toll for that day.
Avoiding Hidden Fees
Trying to avoid paying these fees can be tricky. If possible, avoid the toll booth by driving an alternate route. If you must go through the toll, then elect to pay the toll rather than using the toll transponder. I was told by the rental car company that if you do this, you should ask for a receipt, in case the transponder bills you anyway. If you have the receipt, then you can dispute the charge. Some toll roads don’t have an option to pay, once you go through one of these, you’ll not only be charged the toll, but the convenience fee each day until you reach the maximum. One of the best ways to avoid these toll roads is to use a GPS. In the GPS, set the option to “avoid toll roads”. If you can avoid the tolls, then you’re on your way to avoiding car rental hidden fees!