Over the years, part of my weekly column of Your Smart Money Moves is to help you become better at finding small money traps that can hurt you when you travel. Recently, I had an experience with Hertz Rent A Car that I thought I would share with all of you for the next time you rent a car on a business trip or a vacation.
I am part of the Hertz Number One Gold Club which easily allows me to access getting to a car quickly and getting to my destination. One of the questions you’ll get asked whether you check out at the exit or the counter is whether or not you want to fill the tank up on your way back or you would rather that they fill the tank up for you when you return the vehicle. Even though the signs are pronounced at the counter and the exit gate, many consumers simply don’t read what it will cost them. This means you either pay now or pay dearly later.
Express Fuel- If you drive a total of 75 miles or less, there is a fueling convenience fee of $13.99.
Fuel and Service Charge (FSC)- If you return the car with less fuel than at the time of rent, and have not chosen to the Fuel Purchase Option (FPO) or Express Fuel, they will service and refuel the car at a rate of $9.99 per gallon. Yes, that is $9.99 PER GALLON!!!
The main point here is to really understand the gas options and whether or not you will refill the tank. This makes it very important to make sure you fill the tank before you return the car or you will be charged an obscene amount of money. In most of the contracts it will stipulate that the gas station needs to be within 10 miles of the airport, and you will need to have proof of receipt or the car rental company will charge you. This is true even if the tank is full. Yes, even if that needle is right on full where the car rental checkout person can see it. I know all of this to be true as I argued this point at 6 a.m. on the way back to Atlanta from a business trip many years ago.
Everyone is hearing on the news that oil is now down to an all time low, but if you aren’t careful at the rental car agency, you will pay almost ten times the cost of a gallon of gas. Fill it up!!
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Ted Jenkin is a frequent guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Headline News Weekend Express. He is the co-CEO of oXYGen Financial. You can follow him on LinkedIn @ www.linkedin.com/in/theceoadvisor or on Twitter @tedjenkin.