Six Ways Car Rental Companies Can Get Tricky

It’s a mad, mad world out there when it comes to traveling (hello, baggage fees and pay as you go bathrooms) and these days it’s not just the airlines getting creative with their attempts to increase revenue. Car rental companies are joining in on the fun too!

CNN and Christopher Elliott check out six of the latest and greatest in tricky games car rental companies are playing.

1. Fast and loose pricing
Car rental companies might try to tack on an exorbitant late fee, as was the case of one woman who says a company warned her that returning the car after a certain day would amount to fees around $1,000 per day. Others cite fees for returning cars early. Try paying ahead of time through online travel booking sites.

2. Age limits often apply
Many agencies will add surcharges of $20 per day or more if you’re under 25, or outright ban you from renting if you’re under 21. Their reasoning for age limits? Younger drivers are said to be more likely to damage a car. Car insurance is useless, apparently.

3. More drivers = more money

Want to share those driving duties with another? It could cost ya. If there’s a second driver, car rental companies often ask for more money. So maybe just keep your mouth shut on that one.

“These charges currently run about $10 to $12 per day,” says Ron Prudhomme, a consultant from Sparks, Nevada. “A few years ago, spouses or close relatives were exempt, but car rental agencies are now not allowing any exemptions.”

4. Car seats come with a price

If parents need to rent a car but don’t have their own child safety seat with them, some companies will charge for a car seat… kind of like having to pay for using the seat belts.

5. Let’s redefine car sizes!
Getting creative with the definitions of car classes, like upgrading a smaller car to a bigger category, allows some companies to charge a little extra. Alamo changed its classifications last year after being acquired by Enterprise.

6. Driving under 75 miles will cost you
One consumer had this wording on her rental contract: “An automatic USD $13.99 refueling service charge will be applied to all rentals under 75 miles.”

Keep your receipt or you’ll have to buy another full tank of gas.

Car rental craziness: 6 odd rules [CNN]