Fee Detective

There is No Such Thing as a Free Day on an Airport Rental Car

car rental awarded free day


If you've been racking up award points in your favorite car rental loyalty program, you may be considering cashing in some points for a free day. Be forewarned: It matters where you choose to pick up your vehicle.

If you choose to pick up your car at an airport, your "free day" won't actually turn out to be free after all, thanks to an assortment of taxes and fees at can add up to $20 per day or more. On the other hand, if you redeem award points for a free day at a non-airport location, you could find that taxes and fees add up to mere pennies.

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The Fee Detective Revisits Los Angeles, Where LAX Cranks Up their Customer Facility Charge

LAX Airport

The AutoSlash Fee Detective series is one topic where we answer traveler questions and we got one from a traveler to Los Angeles International Airport. We've previously written about LAX, which has been collecting a $10 per car rental fee to construct a rental car facility since 2002. And of course, the facility doesn't yet exist -- the current plan is for the rental car center to open in 2023. However, one of our readers noted that renters who keep a car more than 24 hours now pay far more than $10 for the rental car facility that doesn't yet exist, for a reason noted in our previous article. In fact, LAWA (Los Angeles World Airports) is simply taking advantage of a provision written in California Civil Code. And remarkably, LAWA isn't (yet) at the current legal cap for user fees on the not-yet-constructed rental car facility.

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The Fee Detective Visits Alaska: The Largest State has Large Rental Car Taxes


Every so often, our blog points toward Alaska. The largest state in the nation, Alaska has been the home of multiple AutoSlash team members and a favorite vacation destination of others. While Alaska is well-known for having no personal income tax and no statewide sales tax plus a check to all year-round residents from the Alaska Permanent Fund, there are taxes on activities, products, and services (almost) sufficient to pay for various government services. Alaska -- bigger than Texas -- decided one option was to impose Texas-sized taxes on their rental cars, particularly in Anchorage.

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Supreme Court of Hawaii Holds Hearing on Rental Car Taxes

Hawaii Supreme Court

The Fee Detective recently wrote about the Hawai'i Legislature's seeming willingness to crank up taxes on rental cars -- specifically at airports -- in an attempt to make "rental car users at airports" (ostensibly, tourists) pay for their transportation infrastructure. Concurrently, the State of Hawai'i was suing various large online travel agencies (OTAs) for taxes related to rental cars in Hawai'i ranging from the year 2000 through 2013, claiming that the travel companies should have been collecting (and paying) all Hawai'i imposed taxes despite not having a physical presence in Hawai'i. The lawsuit about rental cars follows a lawsuit the state previously had pursued against the same online travel agencies (OTAs) about hotel stays but the seeds of the lawsuit were planted in a case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court all the way back in 1991 (Quill Corp. v. North Dakota).

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Will San Francisco Get Help From the State of California in a Lawsuit Against Turo?


In previous posts, we've mocked the City of San Francisco and their ostensible war on transportation. While the City has no desire to enforce laws that might curtail unmitigated vehicle break-ins and there's an active lawsuit against Hertz for a problem caused by the city, there's also the lawsuit filed against Turo for operations at the airport. In existing state law, individuals who list their cars on Turo are defined as participating in a "personal vehicle sharing program", not a rental car transaction. San Francisco wants Turo participants to be treated as rental car companies and they might have help from the California State Legislature, which has the ability to define "rental cars" and is likely to pass one of two new laws this legislative session. L.A. Law was clearly superior to the real-life S.F. Law we insult in our blog!

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