Price Hike

When you make a reservation through AutoSlash, you will always see a confirmation number from the rental car company. It's an easy to miss nuance but is critical when renting a car -- the company you select always guarantees the reservation and rate as booked. Make no changes (inadvertent or intentional) and the reserved rate is known in advance. 

There are things that you might do that change the confirmed rate of a rental. At AutoSlash, we want to help you avoid surprises at the rental counter. Here are six mistakes to avoid before, during, and after pickup to get the rate as booked.

Before Pickup

Mistake 1: Calling the Rental Car Company

Where possible, a rental reservation should only be modified the same way the reservation was originally created. When renters decide to call the rental car company after making a reservation, multiple problems get introduced:

  • The rental car company won't tell the travel agency about changes made, so the travel agency would have incorrect information on file. If you book through us and we're your travel agency, we would be looking for lower rates based on the outdated information, and 
  • The rental car company phone staff are not incentivized to search for the best, discounted rates. And once a change is made to a reservation, there's no way to restore a previous reservation. We recommend checking with us first before making any changes so we can help guide you to getting the best possible rates. 

Mistake 2: Adding Optional Products or Services to Your Loyalty Program Account

We encourage customers to use the loyalty programs provided by their preferred rental car companies (well, all of the programs except Payless Perks) to get expedited rentals and often credit toward award days. In many of these programs, renters can opt-in to certain services like satellite radio, GPS, and insurance. Many programs even allow renters to select a frequent flyer account to earn miles in lieu of points towards free rental days.

None of these services are included at the time you make a reservation through a travel agency. If a customer says "yes" for any of these options in their loyalty profile and then uses the frequent renter ID, the renter will see a drastic spike in price when the company follows their wishes and adds the requested service.

Given that these options are typically significantly overpriced (it's much cheaper to get your own subscription and use the SiriusXM app on your phone, buy and bring your own GPS, and use your existing coverage or buy from a reputable third party). Just say no to all of those options at the time of sign-up. If you need any products or services on a specific rental, add those at the counter but be wary of Mistake 3.

At the Counter

Mistake 3: Adding Products or Services at the Counter

This one might seem to be obvious -- adding items at the counter and signing rental agreements with optional services does come at an additional cost. Yet we frequently get sent receipts where renters dispute the rates charged for the rental. Why?

The renters forget about taxes on those products and services.

What caused the $18.18 difference in these two quotes? A request for a $13.99 car seat (plus taxes).

Yes, that optional product may be subjected to a further 40% in taxes once airports, cities, and states get their take. Taxes and recovery fees make most add-on options a losing proposition. Even frequent flyer miles come with a federal excise tax if a U.S.-based airline is selected.

Mistake 4: Showing Up at the Wrong Time

Rental car companies traditionally bill on 24-hour days. Book a car for a full 24-hour day? There's no grace period for picking up early (although there may be a grace period for returning late)!

Book a car for a noon pickup on Thursday -- when most companies begin charging weekend rates -- and a noon return on Monday? There's a fairly good chance of a nice promotion on that rental of precisely four days (96 hours). Decide to pick up before noon on Thursday? The rate is likely to reprice and spike to a weekly rate; your rate is only guaranteed when you pick up as scheduled. 

Mistake 5: Accepting a Paid Upgrade

This one sounds silly but there's an important nuance that makes it important to recheck the rental contract before signing. Rental car companies set pricing -- and issue promotions -- based upon vehicle types. If a renter is booked under a promotion that's valid for a compact through full-size car but accepts the agent's pitch of "upgrade to a premium car for only $X dollars per day", the daily rate will indeed only increase by that amount per day. However, that choice to deviate from the reservation at the counter would make the renter ineligible for the initial promotion that was only valid for compact through full-size cars! 

AutoSlash can't help when a renter willingly decides to change the confirmed reservation at the time of pickup. If paying for an upgrade, the final estimate for the rental agreement must be studied closely before signing the rental agreement or leaving the parking lot to be sure you understand the additional price.

Lastly, it almost goes without saying that if you're offered a different car than you reserved, you should study the rental paperwork carefully to ensure you have not inadvertently paid for the car. A favorite trick of commissioned rental sales agents is to ask you if you'd like to drive another car and then conveniently omit that they'll be adding an upgrade fee to the contract. If an agent asks if you'd like that convertible or SUV or Cadillac, be sure to ask, "for the same rate?" — and then be sure to review your paperwork before you leave to ensure it matches your reservation.

After Pickup

Mistake 6: Returning Late ... Or Returning Early!

It's easy to see why returning late would cause a customer to incur additional costs. However, returning early does also have the potential to increase rates.

  • Rental car companies have added contract modification and late/early return fees.
  • A shortened rental may become ineligible for a promotion. If a weekend promotion requires a three-day rental and the car is returned after less than two days, the promotion would no longer be valid.

Returning early is one of the more frustrating fees in the rental car industry; it usually means plans have changed drastically but AutoSlash can't help with the modification -- these fees only come into play after a renter has signed a contract with a rental car company. 

How to get the precise rate booked?

Hundreds of AutoSlash users get the rate as booked every single day -- remember, the rates are confirmed by the rental car companies. Picking up the vehicle when booked, as booked, and returning on time is the way to ensure the guaranteed rate on your rental. If the rental car company does make a mistake in computing the total of a rental (exceptionally rare but does happen at times, especially with franchised locations), we're always happy to help out to ensure the rental company makes the issue right!

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