It's never a good idea to return a rental car with less than a full tank of gas. The reason? The rental car companies usually charge a fee if you don't fill up before dropping off. And according to a report in USA Today, that fee has, in some cases, gotten a lot steeper.

The national newspaper polled 102 rental companies at 13 major airports to gauge how much is being charged per gallon for renters who don't fill up before returning their loaner. Surprisingly, 54 of those airports were charging less than the average fuel price at local stations, likely because many companies haven't adjusted their per-gallon charge to reflect rising gas prices. Another 43 rental stores were charging more than the average gas station.

Meanwhile, the Hertz rental company is in a league of its own. The USA Today poll shows that the rental giant was charging $9.29 per gallon of petrol at 13 locations. Dollar and Thrifty weren't far behind at a pair of locations, with a price of $8.99/gal. For perspective, at $9/gal, it would take around $275 to fill up the typical full-size pickup, and about $110 to top off a Ford Focus.

While those are some ridiculous pump prices, this is one instance when the punishment is nearly 100 percent avoidable. After all, if you don't want to get slapped with a $9.29/gal bill, all you need to do is fill up before dropping off the vehicle. Unfortunately, you're still going to pay well over $4/gal in most areas.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 29 Comments
      Kevin W
      • 3 Years Ago
      Ouch. That hertz.
        Kepe
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Kevin W
        Here in Finland our regular (95E10) gas costs 1,6 euros per litre, which translates to 8,9 US$ per gallon. I'd love to see the what people in the US would do if gas cost that much.
          rgee01
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Kepe
          Our economy would pretty much quite literally grind to a halt... taking most of the rest of the world with it.
          SloopJohnB
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Kepe
          I doubt the economy would grind to a halt although people would certainly drive a lot less. Call it inflation or whatever; I've said for years the feds ought to put a gas tax of $4/gallon, put it in over 4 years and watch American stupid driving habits change plus put the money into roads (NOT railroads...see China's latest exercise in futility with high speed rail) rather than steal from the highway trust fund.
          Jacob
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Kepe
          The problem with your little plan there JohnB is that the country is huge, and outside of major metropolitan centers, it's very spread out with little to no public transportation which is why people rely on their personal vehicles so much. (Yes, I could have kept that run-on going longer)
      hokieflea
      • 3 Years Ago
      yea Hertz blows....Enterprise is the way to go, never had a problem with them
      kdilkington
      • 3 Years Ago
      The thing about buying a "full tank" of gas before you rent the car is that you pay for the whole tank regardless of whether or not you use it. It's always best to just allot an extra 15 minutes before returning to the airport to find a nearby gas station and fill-up before returning the car.
      smtgeoff732
      • 3 Years Ago
      $9/gallon is about what we pay here in the UK at the pumps. You think twice before using the car, here. And definitely fill up any rental car before returning it...
        • 3 Years Ago
        @smtgeoff732
        [blocked]
          • 3 Years Ago
          [blocked]
          Tom Taylor
          • 3 Years Ago
          And if you used your even tinier brain to sit down and think about why you shouldn't call other people's maths without checking your own (which is so far off it's hilarious). I'll run you through in case you haven't realised your mistake yet: Ok here we go.. 9 dollars a US gallon/3.78 = $2.38 per litre $2.38 per litre x 4.54 for an imperial gallon equals $10.80 UK average £1.42 per litre x 4.54 = £6.45 £6.45 x 1.65 (current exchange rate) = $10.64 So you see he was actually right and you are entirely, hysterically, wrong.
          Tom Taylor
          • 3 Years Ago
          No no no. If I was there in person I would be shaking my head. a. I have a degree in economics, please please don't question my understanding of exchange rates. b. That petrol in the UK is in fact more expensive than the 9 dollars quoted REINFORCES my argument not the opposite - I am more right!! c. We never said we weren't including taxes, we are talking about what we pay at the pump, not raw petrol prices. d. I understand that the pound carries more weight as a currency and that is in fact why I used the conversion rate to put the figures in Dollars!! e. If what you are getting at is Purchasing Power Parity i.e. does the pound carry more weight in it's own country then the answer is NO. I'll give you an example the GDP of the USA is about $46000 whereas in the UK it is about $35000. Whichever way you look at it a dollar is a greater proportion of average incomes in the UK than in the US. So your 10 dollar gallon of gas is around 0.03% of GDP in the UK versus 0.02% in the US. Sounds like a small difference but it means 10 dollars in the UK is about the same value as 15 in the US. Making gas over here waaaaay more expensive, are you now getting this?
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      Pat
      • 3 Years Ago
      I rented a car from Entreprise last week in Montreal. While fuel on the street was 1,47C$/litre, they were offering 1,10$ in prepurcahse and 1,50$ per litre if you brought it back empty! What a bargain!
      Judy Z
      • 3 Years Ago
      With gas closing in on $6 a gallon in Canada we don't have to rent a car or climb into the back seat to get screwed.
      Muttons
      • 3 Years Ago
      My last rental was a Hertz in Salt Lake City and the rate they gave me was below the current average for the area.
      Stinkyboy
      • 3 Years Ago
      I ate a can of beans, cost me 89 cents. I had gas all day long.
        ICantDrive88
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Stinkyboy
        In Soviet Russia - You don't get cars gas... They give YOU gas!
      Accelerus
      • 3 Years Ago
      As a man who literally 5 minutes ago just rented a car from Hertz for a week I'm getting a kick. Side story - bad rains, driving home, hydroplaned, spun twice doing 60mph bounced off center concrete wall. In my S10. Off to repair for a few days for a new radiator, no other damage outside of cosmetic. Rental places charging huge gas fees is 100% acceptable in my opinion. If you dont want to pay 10 dollars a gallon, take *5 minutes* before you drop it off to top the tank off. paying 100 dollars vs spending 5 minutes of your life seems like a no brainer. Anyone who would complain about this is an automatic failure at economics and cost savings. I don't know of the whole business between Hertz and Enterprise. All i know is for 2 minutes of goodling I found a promo code for 20 dollars off a week rental. Total price after all taxes and fees for 7 days? 189 dollars. Can't beat 27 dollars a day after all fees. And they are picking me up at my house. Enterprise had no coupons and wanted 230 pre-tax for a week long rental. I'm happy as a clam right now.
        Noz
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Accelerus
        So if it takes 5 minutes and they charge you $50 extra dollars to fill up a 10 gallon tank let's say, YOU say it's OK for them charge you $600/per hour to fill up your car? Because that's how much they are roughly charging. Don't be stupid...this is humanity at its lowest...just because you can take advantage of people that doesn't mean you should. Wonder why this world is so screwed? Precisely due to thinking like that.
          Danaon
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Noz
          I used to work at a rental car place (not Hertz) and the reason they charge those fees is because they DO NOT WANT YOU TO RETURN A CAR WITH LESS GAS IN IT! It costs a lot more than a gallon of gas to buy the gas, get it trucked over, store it in our tank, and pay a guy to fill the car back up. They'd much rather you just fill the car up before you bring it back. IE, the fee is a "disincentive" to cut down on a behavior that costs the rental company a lot of money.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Accelerus
        [blocked]
      Beddu
      • 3 Years Ago
      I paid a smidge under $150 for 15 Gallons this past weekend. Not that its indicative of anything as I am in the UK and that was Shell Premium grade, but, yeah. Just saying.
      tritonstrategies
      • 3 Years Ago
      Sometimes it doesn't feel like we're so far away from $9 at every gas station. Can you say economic collapse?
        Pat
        • 3 Years Ago
        @tritonstrategies
        I call it abuse or gouging!
    • Load More Comments