When you rent a car, I bet you don’t give much thought to the times you say you’ll pick up and drop off the vehicle. Most people enter in the time their flight is due to arrive and then maybe give themselves an hour or two (or nowadays, three) before their flight is scheduled to leave.
But what if you change your departure time at the last minute to get on an earlier plane, and get your rental car earlier, too? Or if your flight home is delayed and you know you’re going to be stuck at the airport, you might decide to just show up a bit later (Be careful. Flight can become undelayed). Those decisions could cost you an entire day’s worth of rental car charges if you’re not careful.
Unlike most of us who think of Monday as one day and Tuesday as the next day, car rental companies go by a 24-hour clock. If you check out your car at 1:00 PM, you better return that car by 1:00 PM or be ready to pay up. That’s one reason why it pays to plan your flights to save on car rental charges. Even if you plan your trip correctly, you may get stuck in traffic on the way to the airport.
Rental car companies offer a grace period on rental returns, but they’re nowhere as generous as they used to be. I was able to take advantage of one of these grace periods in Hawaii when I forgot to fill up my rental car with gas before returning it. I didn’t prepay for the gas, so I was prepared to pay through the nose. The rental agent told me I had 30 minutes grace period so I could drive out of the airport, across the street to the gas station that doesn’t overcharge tourists for gas and fill up, which I did. That saved me about $20 in fuel charges but that’s Hawaii for you!
Here are the grace period policies of the major rental car companies if you return the car past the 24-hour mark. You may get a more lenient policy with a particular group code but I decided to list the base rules that’ll apply to almost everyone.
There is generally a 29 minute grace period for daily rentals. If the vehicle is returned within 2 hours of the time it was rented on a subsequent day additional hourly charges will apply. If you return the vehicle 2 hours or more from the time it was rented on a subsequent day, you will be charged for an additional day of rental.
Vehicles are rented on a daily (24 hour) basis. If a rental car is returned beyond the 24-hour period, the renter will be charged an additional hourly rate. Depending on which Avis website you visit, there is mention of a 29-minute grace period for returns. After 30 minutes late, hourly charges may apply. After 90 minutes late, a full-day late charge may apply. I’d advise checking your contract.
Vehicles are rented on a daily (24-hour) basis. There is a 29-minute grace period for returns. After 30 minutes late, hourly car rate charges and taxes may apply. After 90 minutes late, full-day late charges and taxes may apply. After 7 hours late, if you didn’t call to extend your rental, an additional $20/day late fee applies. There is no grace period for rental fees, surcharges and optional equipment or protections charges. Full-day late charges will apply for these items.
Late returns beyond our 30-minute grace period may be subject to extra hour and/or extra day charges, in addition to any other rental charges. If the renter fails to comply with the conditions applicable to the rate, including any geographic driving restrictions, a mileage charge, surcharge or other rates may apply.
There is generally a 29 minute grace period for daily rentals. If the vehicle is returned within 2 ½ hours of the time it was rented on a subsequent day, additional hourly charges will apply. Hourly charges for your location and rental can be found on your rental contract. If you return the vehicle 2 ½ hours or more from the time it was rented on a subsequent day, you will be charged for an additional day of rental.
Fox Rent A Car
A rental day is each 24 hour time period commencing with the date/time indicated on the rental agreement (contract) at the time of rental. There is a 59 minute grace period for return. Hourly charges may apply after this grace period. After three hours, a full-day charge may apply.
Rentals have a grace period of 29 minutes. Optional coverages do not have hourly charges/grace period, but are charged as a full day. Extra hour charges will be incurred at the 30 minute mark if the vehicle is returned more than 29 minutes past the original rental time. Vehicles returned more than 12 hours late will be charged an additional $12 per day.
There is generally a 29 minute grace period for daily rentals. If the vehicle is returned within 2 ½ hours of the time it was rented on a subsequent day additional hourly charges will apply. If you return the vehicle 2 ½ hours or more from the time it was rented on a subsequent day, you will be charged for an additional day of rental.
Rental is based on a 24-hour period. The customer receives a 29-minute grace period. If he/she keeps the vehicle after this time, an hourly rate will apply from minute one.
We do allow a 30-minute grace period for your convenience at return. For example, if you picked up at noon on day one and returned at noon on day two you are within the 24-hour billing period and will be charged for one day. However, if you return your vehicle at 1:00 PM, you will be charged an additional day.
Late returns beyond 30 minute grace period may be subject to extra hour and/or extra day charges, in addition to any other rental charges. If the renter fails to comply with the conditions applicable to the rate, including any geographic driving restrictions, a mileage charge, surcharge or other rates may apply.
It’s important to know the grace period only applies to charges for car rental. Even if you return a car within a grace period, if it’s late by just one minute you’ll be charged for any additional fees such as insurance, airport fees, local fees, add-ons like car seats or GPS or radio, along with applicable taxes on those charges.
If you have a car rental where the check-out and return times are close, it may pay for you to leave for the airport early, when possible. There might be some great places in the airport to spend some time like a Centurion Lounge or a nice airport restaurant where you can spend the money you saved by returning the car a little bit earlier.
Want to comment on this post? Great! Read this first to help ensure it gets approved.
Want to sponsor a post, write something for Your Mileage May Vary or put ads on our site? Click here for more info.
Like this post? Please share it! We have plenty more just like it and would love it if you decided to hang around and sign up to get emailed notifications of when we post.
Whether you’ve read our articles before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!
This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary
Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
I use National Rent a Car and we have the Emerald pass which allows us to pick up the car without talking to anyone. When we drop off, we don’t always fill it up with gas. I don’t think I have ever seen a charge for it. We usually rent a car when visiting family so we don’t drive more than 1/3 of a tank. I wonder if they charge us back months later and we don’t notice it.
I have a 6am flight. I scheduled my drop off at 9pm the previous night since. When I picked up the car, the Alamo guy said I should just keep the car later since it’s already paid for and that would keep me from having to stay in airport all night. I assuming he meant I’m on a weekly rate. I picked up on a Saturday, and drop off is scheduled for the next Wednesday. I’m scared to drop off later since it was only his word I’d be going by.
The worst company by far with EXTRA CHARGES is SIXT. They make more money there than renting cars. And worse of they obnoxious about it. They think because they offer better cars they can get away with murder. Plus their pickup and dropoff locations are very inconvenient which makes this even worse. Try returning a car after hours in their only Manhattan NY Location. GOOD LUCK.
I just rented a car and I missed up with how much I plan to spend. Every thing went wrong. I am loving information about rental car
The other thing is your rental starts with the time you pick up, not the time you reserved. So if your flight is early and you pick up early, you will have to return earlier too. And if you stand in line for an hour waiting at the rental counter and your actual pickup time is later than what you reserved, you get some extra time to return it too