Detour around rental-car woes |

Detour around rental-car woes

Shelley Polansky
Better Business Bureau

Getting the best deal on a rental car or truck is more complicated than finding the lowest daily rates. Unexpected costs such as mileage caps, insurance and drop-off fees can change the price dramatically. Putting in a little extra time for comparison shopping before renting can save you money and future hassles.

The Better Business Bureau processed more than 6,700 complaints about rental-car companies nationwide over the past year. Consumers complained about vehicle safety, deposits that weren’t refunded, overcharges for insurance coverage and disputes about damages to vehicles. Many complaints stemmed from not understanding the rental-car contracts and limitations on the use of rented vehicles.

The Better Business Bureau offers the following tips to avoid common rental-car pitfalls:

If the advertised price is higher than you want to pay, ask whether discounts apply if you’re a senior citizen or a member of an automobile club. Discounts also may be available for certain dates, weekends or longer trips.

Renting from an airport-based rental facility often is more expensive than an off-airport location, usually because of taxes and surcharges the airport charges the rental company.

Some airlines or other travel companies may offer discounted rates if you purchase more than one service, such as a flight, rental car or hotel stay.

Renting a GPS device, a child car seat or a roof rack can add to your total bill. Consider using a cellphone GPS or bringing your own car seat.

Some companies offer to sell you a full tank of gas so you don’t have to fill up the tank before you return the car. Compare the full-tank charge to the prevailing cost of gasoline in the area where you’re renting. In some cases, the convenience of not having to refill the tank can be worth the extra money. In others, it makes sense to top off the tank yourself.

Check your car-insurance policy before you leave home. In many cases, your policy will cover damage to a rental vehicle and you can skip insurance through the rental contract.

Some renters have been surprised at being charged a fee for returning a car early or late. Sometimes, the penalty may be deducted from your deposit. If you’re traveling over a holiday or have to return the car outside of regular working hours, ask whether the office will be open or if you need to drop keys in a lockbox.

Check the company out at to see if it has complaints and, if so, how they were resolved.

For more consumer tips and information, visit

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.