Fee Detective

Thinking of Burning Rental Car Points for an Award Day? Awards are Never Free.

Burning Poiints

Recently, I was stuck at an airport for a few hours between returning a Jucy camper van and a flight to Portland, Oregon. I had originally thought about redeeming some points for a free award day and exploring the area. The result? A quote of about $20 for a full-size car on an ostensibly "free" day. I headed to the airline lounge instead and had a quiet lunch and changed to an earlier flight instead.

The potential financial cost of redeeming the "free" rental day to drive around Oakland for a few hours had changed my behavior. The rental cost also put a question into my mind -- how bad are the fees on a free rental day at major airport locations? 

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Airport Taxes when Not at an Airport? -- The Fee Detective makes a Stop (not a Stopover) In Denver

Denver Airport

Helping an AutoSlash user one day, we came across an abnormal scenario. A rate wasn’t coming back as expected – in fact, the rate charged by the location was about $27 more than expected. Looking at the breakdown carefully, we discovered that the renter was being charged airport taxes by a Budget neighborhood location despite a pickup (and contract signing) that was not at the Denver International Airport.

At least some renters who weren’t “airport customers” (more on that in a minute) were being charged airport fees.

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Chicago Airport Tax on Local Rentals (Finally) Ruled Unconstitutional

Allied Business Network

We all know the aphorism that the only certainties in life are death and taxes. Consumers deal with the constant burden of taxes on every vehicle rental, even on award days. Some governments are more creative than others when it comes to generating new taxes. The master class in creative taxation takes the Fee Detective to Chicago, Illinois!

One who suggests the City of Chicago adores taxes would be a specialist in profound understatement. AutoSlash struggles to help renters at Chicagoland airports find great rates; one tax alone is $8 per day for all rental cars. Chicago's just about the only city where AutoSlash can currently make a paid reservation where the burden from "Fees and Taxes" ($14.74) is more than twice the cost of the car itself ($7, after a $5 per-day coupon) for a weekend rental.

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The Fee Detective and the Grace of Rental Car Companies

Fee Detective

Ever pick up a rental car at 9 a.m. and need to return by 9 a.m. the next day? In the rental car industry, this is referred to as a daily rental - the car is booked for a timeframe that's evenly divisible by the 24-hour day. Leaving the hotel a few minutes late, a driver may be concerned about refueling the car and getting the car checked in on time.

Well, the renter who ends up returning the vehicle a few minutes late may partially be in luck. Rental car companies understand that there's sometimes a delay in getting vehicles returned - especially when the site first opens for the day - and thus offer grace periods for the time and mileage charges on daily rentals.

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When do I Pay to Replace a Rental Car?


When we rent cars, we assume some risk. If we cause an accident, we should expect to compensate the rental car company for the vehicle, per the contract that we initial here, here, here, here, and here while signing here. An accident while driving a rental car is a clear instance where we might directly pay to replace the vehicle.

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