How To Avoid Getting Ripped Off By Rental Car Companies

You know, I like a good upsell every now and then but the way the rental car industry does it borderlines on scam. As most of you know, I’m in Waikiki for a family vacation. To get around the island, I ordered a rental car from Advantage through Priceline.com.

The fun started when I went to pick up the car after landing at the airport. I ordered a full size car and got a Nissan Altima. I guess Advantage idea of full size and mine are two different things. Anyway, the upsell really begins when they asked what insurance coverage I wanted. The lady at the counter gave me two choices. I can get full unlimited coverage or their recommended coverage. She never said that insurance was option or that I can choose not to have it. She claimed that my Gold Visa does’t cover everything if I get into an accident. When I finally asked her, “What’s my third option?” Her reply was, “You assume full responsibility.” I told her that’s what I want.

Then she told me the car had a full tank of gas and that I can bring it back empty. I would be charged $3.58 per gallon for the tank of gas. This was a 20 cents savings from the gas station price. Aside from not telling you that insurance is optional, this is one of the biggest ripoffs rental car companies pull.

They charge you for a full tank but no one ever brings back an empty tank. As for the 20 cent savings, they quote the cost of premium gas, which cost 20 cents per gallon more. However, their cars run on regular so there really is no savings. I told Advantage I would not buy their gas and I’ll bring the car back with a full tank instead.

I find it highly disturbing that car rental companies no longer give customers all the choices that are available. I can only imagine how many people purchased insurance and full tanks of gas because they were never told that those things were optional.

The last upsell woud be to upgrade me to a GPS for $10.95 per day. But since I already had one, she didn’t try.


61 thoughts on “How To Avoid Getting Ripped Off By Rental Car Companies”

  1. Dino Vedo says:

    Great points on not getting ripped off! Happens to the best of us 😉

    1. PPC Ian says:

      It sure does! Rental cars can be way too expensive if you get talked into the extras!

    2. That’s the way it works, they’re always trying to get more money from you.

      1. They’ve been operating this way for decades. It’s interesting that it just keeps on and on and no FTC or the powers that be touch it.

        1. The FTC doesn’t want to bother with big companies, because they will have to spend too much money, they just want to mess with the little guy. This is what we get when we have an ever intrusive retarded government that is interested in nothing other than making itself bigger.

    3. definitely this is eye opening post.

      People like you who travel too often can understand these kind of scam quite well.

  2. I never have experience with rental car companies, but it’s still great suggestion here

    1. so do you use public transport and enjoy full vacation with the local people and their culture.

  3. Very common to get ripped when renting a car, there’s to many things involved in the “small” notes of the contracts. Good point you make here.

    1. small texts always mean to be for that … Lollllz

  4. Abhik says:

    lol!! That’s why I always take dry cars 🙂

    1. why, do you like to take dry cars, always?

  5. Paul B says:

    All sounds very minor compared to the online world and the array of fake plastic promises and profucts that fly around the interweb daily but you’re absolutely right…it always pays to way up ALL the options before paying for something.

    1. proper knowledge can save you always and John’s top floor is full of that.

  6. I really love the dry car. You have collected great points on saving from getting ripped off.

  7. Lea Sadler says:

    I’ve run up against the same problem with car rental companies not informing me that the insurance coverage is optional. Of course, in MD, it is required–UNLESS you have other coverage–which you often DO if you have full insurance on your own, personal vehicle.

    If you tell the car rental agency that you have full coverage on your personal vehicle and want to use this coverage for your rental, the rental agency checks with your car insurance company to make sure your coverage is sufficient . Then, you’re good to go.

    At least, that’s the way in works in Maryland.

    1. PPC Ian says:

      Thanks for sharing, this is good to know. When I recently visited Boston, they made it seem like the insurance was mandatory because of state regulations, etc.

      1. Insurance is their biggest trick.Even if you are covered through your credit card plan and your car insurance company they want to make you believe that you still need to pay them for it.

      2. Michael Kwan says:

        The laws are a little different in each jurisdiction. In BC, all vehicles are required to have 3rd party liability (which the rental company has to provide). The regular collision/comprehensive/theft isn’t required, but many rental companies have a policy of refusing to rent if there is no insurance on the vehicle. Even if a customer assumes full liability, there’s no saying that they have the cash to replace a car should something happen and the rental company doesn’t want to go through a lawsuit to get that money. Credit card insurance is tricky too, because the credit card company will typically charge the full amount of the repairs (should something happen) up front, reimbursing the customer months later when they clear things up. I used to work for a car rental place (and I hated it).

    2. so before going anywhere you should talk with those people who visited there.

      Perfect home work in every segment is quite important to save yourself.

  8. If you don’t rent a limo on a hourly basis, let’s say you need it for a pick up/drop off service, make sure that you are on time otherwise you’ll be charged waiting time after 10-15 minutes of the initial pick up time.

    1. this kind of option is more suitable when you are travelling alone or without family.

  9. fas says:

    All companies try to extract the most from the consumers.

    1. yeah when people are on vacation they are in mood of enjoy hence saving factor is quite less … But however this is not applicable on John.

  10. Mr Get Money says:

    Please dont let that ruin your vaca john. Looking forward to more posts from the trip.

    1. this is not going to ruin his vacation though this can save him good money.

  11. Danny says:

    Thanks for this John. I really never thought about it but have always thought they are trying to rip me off. I use to buy insurance but usually I fill my own gas when I return the rental.

    1. so john saved your good amount of money in future car hiring.

  12. I never have enjoyed renting a car. It’s always been the same old thing that you speak of. I would like to see someone like Zipcar develop a new model without the hassle.

    There is always the option of using the Ugly Duckling Rent A Car, but I am not sure if the car comes with wheels & doors those might be optional. 🙂

    1. PPC Ian says:

      That’s true, renting a car is always annoying. Whenever it’s possible to take a taxi, I prefer to go that route. However, it’s totally necessary to have a rental car in Hawaii.

      1. Preferably a Jeep if you want to access the remote beaches.

        1. yeah Jeep will be good option but John is looking for big one.

        2. Opal says:

          Aloha!

          On O’ahu, most (in fact, I would say ‘all’) beaches are accessible by standard non-AWD car or by foot. On the other islands, such as Maui where they have seacliffs or Hawai’i Island where they have lava fields, then, yes, AWD is necessary. But I would suggest leaving those beaches untouched.

          Mahalo!

      2. specially when you are travelling with family than renting a car is must.

        After all we are earning for them only.

      3. Opal says:

        Aloha!
        Actually, renting a car might be unnecessary on the main island of O’ahu where we have a very good public transportation system (thebus.org). But renting a car is a must on the outer-islands, such as the popular Kaua’i and Maui, where there is no public transport system. Hotels might offer airport transfers and there is a decent variety of private tour and chauffeur companies but renting a car is widely preferred/necessary.

  13. Internetsalsa says:

    Thats normal John in this kind of economy.
    Best thing is to research before you book it (if you are so concerned).
    I have rented many times before.
    It might not be the same in all the states (rules).
    And yes credit card (gold or platinum) doesn’t cover everything.
    But there is an alternative to rental cars and car ownership, i.e http://www.zipcar.com/
    Not avail in all cities though.
    http://www.zipcar.com/cities?&return_url=%2ffind-cars&signature=733+1298579265+E2BB0E974107746FA47D9EFFC2C05C11EDC54886

    Enjoy the vacation.

    1. nice share … And great information.

      Really appreciate it.

      Only frequent travel can provide such kind of useful information.

  14. It’s called the upsell, just like what us affiliate marketers do.

    1. Internetsalsa says:

      right on. I was also thinking about mentioning about the affiliate marketers.

      1. I don’t really think it’s a genuine upsell. It’s more a trick and dishonest manipulation and cheating. Pure deception really. If you’re not savvy like John they are going to rip you off.

        I wouldn’t compare it to anything internet marketers do. At least not the honest ones.

        1. yes they simply want to take advantage of those people who are less aware or have calculative mind.

      2. Paul B says:

        To be equivalent to the internet marketing space their upsells would have to be things like the ignition key and wheels for the car.

        Car rental has a long way to go before it reaches the dishonesty of the majority of people flogging promises of online riches.

  15. Have a drink at Dukes and it will all be ok.

    Donovan Moore
    Madison WI

    1. I don’t think that John needs to get a drink to be OK. He dealt with the problem wisely and is just sharing his experience here.

      1. yeah he is quite ok and comfortable in every kind of situation.

        You will always see a broad smile in his face.

  16. Allen Walker says:

    I’ve never rented a car before, but thanks for the tips. 🙂

    I’ll remember to be careful of those points if I ever rent a car…

    1. this totally vary from country to country.

      So be aware from the country rules in which you are going.

  17. That’s a nice benefit of being in Internet Marketing: you become good at spotting upsells and scams a mile away… 🙂

    1. Great thought … But I think knowledge in any field always pay.

      This is a perfect example of it.

  18. You don’t really need any of the insurance or extras. I never get any of that because my insurance covers me on any rental car in the United States..

  19. now that is the advantage of having full knowledge.

    Thanks for sharing this information. I am sure car rental company wont like this post.

    1. Hey John

      Show this post to that lady, this will be awesome and would love to see her face expression.

  20. Russ says:

    Great article John! It seems as if more and more companies are pulling these types of acts; perhaps it has a lot to do with the state our economy is in! I am not making excuses for their scam-like behavior….just saying it seems like it is beginning to get impossible to keep a business afloat; who would have ever thought stores like Borders would be going under?

  21. Opal says:

    When my friends come to visit Hawai’i and need a rental car, I always suggest Tradewinds U-Drive (http://www.bnm.com/trade.htm). I’ve always received great rentals and service from them without any hassles.

  22. Nobody likes to get ripped off!!!! Thanks for the post John

  23. Joy Smith says:

    Interesting. I never knew that about the gas. I’ll have to remember that if we ever decide to rent another car.

  24. anitha says:

    i am not interest in much to rent a car because somecases we have to pay them a lot

  25. christina says:

    for renting car we have to pay them and some tips to the driver too

  26. Fazal Mayar says:

    yeah ive heard stories like that. They are trying to get the most of every rental, well thats how they make money by giving you services. Some people should have a bit more ethics, ive heard worst stories though.

  27. Ahhh, once again the car industry shows their true colors. It seems like the good guys in the car business is becoming more and more scarce. I’ve had a total of 5 cars so far in my life and it seems everytime they tried to sucker me and it sounds like it’s no different with the car rental industry. This might be slightly off subject but I saw Priceline mentioned in the article as well. I absolutely HATE Priceline.com. They completely screwed me and some friends over one time and would not give an inch to satisfy some very disgruntled customers. I’ve never used them again.

  28. anitha says:

    but they will ask original proof for the verification

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