Car Rental Grace Periods Died Graceless Death

You may have missed it, but a number of national car-rental places amended or ended their car-rental grace periods this year. These were rules that said if you returned your car an hour or two late, they wouldn’t charge you for the overtime.

Dollar, Enterprise, and National have no grace periods. And at Hertz, if you return your car after closing time they’re allowed to keep charging you hourly until they open.

Upgrade: Travel Better has a list of each company and their revised policies. Check it before your next rental. — BEN POPKEN

(Photo: Cote)

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  1. MostNutsEver says:

    I don’t know if it is an official rule at Enterprise or not, but we would usually give a customer an hour grace period on returns when I was working there about a year ago.

  2. alhypo says:

    Did all these companies amend their policies at the same time?

    That seems suspicious.

  3. Carl says:

    In researching car rental rates for various trips, I’ve discovered that the weekly rate kicks in for a rental of several days, no matter that you don’t want the car for a week. That is, you’ll pay the same for a four-day rental as you would for a week. Solution – rent for a week and return the car “early,” generating no late fee.

  4. Buran says:

    I don’t know why this is surprising… you agree to return whatever you rent at a certain time, and if you don’t, you get charged. Seems simple to me …

  5. dragonflight says:

    @Buran: agreed, but the Hertz policy sounds brutal..hourly overnight is insane.

  6. XianZhuXuande says:

    @dragonflight: A good reason not to rent from Hertz.

  7. synergy says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever rented from anyone from Enterprise, so I wasn’t aware that they had a grace. Although I do have to say that the place I used to rent from near my college had the GREAT policy that you could bring in a car on Sunday and not be charge an extra day. They had cameras turned to the parking lot so they knew what time you dropped off the car and they had a chute where you could drop off keys. I’ve yet to find that again!

  8. MBM says:

    Avis lies — it doesn’t really have a grace period and hasn’t for years.

    The one and only time I’ve returned a rental car late, by about 20 minutes, I was charged for an extra hour. When I asked about the grace period, I was told that it applies only at the end of the first day of the rental. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, so I asked the employee to spell it out for me: “If I had brought the car back one-third of the way into my three-day reservation, I would have had a grace period, but it doesn’t apply because I kept it for the entire three days I had reserved it for?” “That is correct.”

    Customer service was no help. Upshot: It’s been YEARS since I rented from Avis, which lost a loyal customer over a $13 charge.

  9. ldnyc says:

    I rent from the National at E. 12th & University in Manhattan all the time and I’ve always had a 60-90 minute grace period there and never been charged extra.

  10. I have been late to Avis, and they always waive the extra charge. But then again, I do a lot of business with them, so maybe it’s because I am a big return customer.

  11. Carrnage says:

    Alamo/National absolutely has a grace period. It may not be advertised, but you have an hour grace period.

  12. SkaldGrimnir says:

    @dragonflight: I used to work as a Manager trainee for a Hertz RAC and HLE. What few people understand is that car rates only bill hourly for an hour or two before they are the equivalent of a full day charge.

    Take a look at a rental agreement. often times the hourly charge is 1/2 of the daily charge. So, hertz will often grant a 1 hour grace, then charge the hourly, then the daily.

    Also, at our location, we took peoples word for it on the dropbox. If they said the arrived at midnight, we charged them for that arrival time only. If they said they arrived at 2am, that’s the time we closed the rental agreement for. If we found that their return time on the slip would charge an hourly fee by just an hour, we’d often waive it.

    Those were my policies, and my boss’ policies.