6 Reasons Why Prepaying for Gas is Never a Good Deal

Gas Tank Image

Summer vacation means it's road-trip time! These days, with gas prices again on the rise, saving money at the pump is on every road-tripper's mind.

"I can fill the car up for 10 cents cheaper than local pump price," the rental sales agent says as he points to a sign showing a nice, low per-gallon price. Sounds like a good deal, no? As with everything in the rental car industry, there's a catch. Here are six reasons to think twice about prepaying that tank:

1. You have to return the car completely empty.

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Avoiding Roadside Assistance, One of the Profit Centers for Rental Car Companies

Roadside Assistance

Roadside Assistance (under various names) gets offered at the rental counter as an additional/optional service, a daily fee that provides service from the rental car company if there’s a customer-induced issue with the rental car. The listed costs for the services might seem relatively small at $4-$7 per day (plus taxes, of course). However, the commission-based counter agent pushing these roadside protection services won’t tell you that the company’s offer is a really bad deal. Instead, that agent seeking a few extra dollars in the paycheck will cheerfully relay their “company line.” For instance, the statement at an Enterprise counter might go something like:

Roadside Assistance Protections (RAP) allows Enterprise customers to waive financial responsibility for chargeable roadside incidents such as lost keys, lockouts and fuel outages.

How bad of a deal can $4 a day be for a service that’s already sounding a little like AAA?

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Posessed Rental Cars

Car Rental Possession

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Car Review: Taking a Camaro Convertible for a Spin (Literally)

Fullsize Passenger Van

Most of the flashbacks I have to high school are positive ones. I went to an exceptional public high school, won letters in multiple sports, received multiple academic (and one athletic) scholarship offers, and was even offered a military commission. And I was the jock who was blasting Soul Asylym's Runaway Train in the parking lot before school in my Chevrolet Camaro. Yet the coolest part of my Camaro -- built in 1983 -- was the aftermarket sound system. You see, my high school Camaro was from the era when General Motors thought it was cool to produce some 4-cylinder models with under 100 HP. Not only did General Motors (deservedly) lose market share in the 1980s, my Camaro decades ago had fewer horsepower than a Nissan Versa today. My Camaro experience was thus a lot more "miss" than "hit". Twenty-three years later, I finally had a great Camaro experience.

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Remember When ... Avis Designed the First Airport Rental Car Concept

Willow Run Airport

Remember when … there was no such concept as a rental car company being based at an airport? We bet many individuals born in the 1930’s remember those days. While the rental car industry started before World War I, the first rental car operation designed for airports wasn’t until after World War II. 

Downtown rental cars were the default practice until 1946 when Warren Avis opened Avis Airlines Rent-A-Car. Originally, the idea of having rental cars at airports was panned.

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