When you try to book a car rental reward, you quickly learn that a free rental day does not mean your rental is going to be free. You’ll need to pay all of the taxes and fees associated with the rental, which can add up quickly if you’re renting a car from an airport location. Here’s a list of all the different taxes and fees associated with a single rental from Austin Airport.
While some of these fees are a set amount per day, others are based off the cost of your rental. Since I try to use my points to save money on what would otherwise be an expensive car rental, I’d like to avoid paying a large amount in taxes and fees if I can help it.
I was recently searching for a car for one of our upcoming trips and prices for a three day rental were, in my opinion, extraordinarily high:
I’m not thrilled about renting from Advantage so they were out. I’ve rented from Thrifty before in a pinch but for the two dollars extra, I’ll go with Hertz. Since the cheapest prices I could find were still more than I’d like to pay for a three day rental, I started thinking of options. I could have rented from Silvercar for about the same price and received a much nicer car and car rental experience but that’s still expensive. Then I remembered the Hertz Gold Plus Rewards points I purchased during the Daily Getaways promotion. We don’t rent cars often so this would be a great time to use these points.
Here’s the reservation after I applied the points to cover the cost of the three day rental:
My “free rental” would cost $51.70. Now that’s better than $180 but it’s still not free. Since it was the best option available, I booked it. About a week later, I received an email from AutoSlash. I forgot to tell the website to stop following the price of my upcoming rental so they were letting me know that the prices had dropped.
Here were the new prices available for the rental:
First of all, this is why I love AutoSlash. The price of the rental dropped by half. I was tempted to cancel and rebook with National but I still would rather pay $50 and use the points with Hertz than pay $100 cash with National.
The next thing I did was look up the discount codes AutoSlash used to get the Hertz rental for $114.90. I went to the Hertz website and modified my existing reservation, adding in the new codes. The rental went down to $114.90 and since the price of the rental was now less, the resulting taxes and fees were also lower. Here’s the cost of my updated reservation:
The price of the taxes and fees went down by $9. Not a huge amount but I’d rather pay $42 than $51 any day. All it took was about five minutes, From what I’ve seen, all of the rental car companies charge the taxes and fees on award redemptions. While you’re going to want to use your awards for the most expensive rentals, these rentals will also have the highest fees and taxes resulting in you having to pay a decent amount for your free rental. Keeping up on the cash price of the rental (or having AutoSlash do it for you) can help you save money, even on a award redemption.
Addendum: A commenter to this post mentioned that the taxes and fees would drop off when returning the car. This is not true but the price did go down significantly. Here’s the final bill from Hertz.
RENTAL CHARGES DAYS 3 @ 26.99 80.97 ADJUSTMENT -80.97 CONCESSION FEE RECOVERY 0.82 VEHICLE LICENSE FEE 5.82 CUSTOMER FACILITY CHARGE 17.85 ENERGY SURCHARGE 1.49 TAX 15.00% 3.89 AMOUNT DUE 29.87 USD
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary