So you are supposed to return your rental car by 9 a.m. the next day and you're running a little late. The good news is: You may be in luck. Rental car companies understand that there's sometimes a delay in getting vehicles returned and consequently, they almost all offer a half-hour grace period for the time and mileage charges on daily rentals. But don't cut it too close.
Rental Car Grace Period Policies
In the rental car industry, there's a nearly universal grace period of 29-30 minutes. Know that the clock is ticking, so don't cut it razor close. If the grace period is 29 minutes, you will be charged extra once the clock hits 30 minutes past your return time. Here are the grace periods at the big players.
Enterprise Holdings (Alamo, Enterprise, and National)
Hertz Global Holdings (Dollar, Hertz, and Hertz)
- Dollar - 30 minutes
- Hertz - 29 minutes. Note that If you reserve with a Platinum American Express card, you are eligible for a larger grace period of 4 hours but only when booking with a specific Hertz CDP code. If you think you might need these extra hours, let us know when you reserve your car.
- Thrifty - 30 minutes
AvisBudget Group (Avis, Budget, Payless)
Potential Rental Car Fees with Late Returns
Just be aware that generosity only goes so far if you miss your return deadline. While the rental car company might cut you a break on the extra hour/day charges, there are other fees that can be incurred.
Late billing is retroactive. Extra-hour billing is retroactive to the time the vehicle was originally due. A rental turned in 40 minutes late will be assessed an extra hour, while the vehicle returned 65 minutes late will be assessed an extra two hours (or a full day, depending upon the rental car contract terms).
The government will take its cut. Yes, taxes will reflect the extra-hour billing.
You will probably be billed for optional services, too. Optional add-ons such as an additional driver or GPS are charged per day and there will likely not be a grace period for these charges.