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September 5, 2011

Car Rental Taxes and Fees Explode

Filed under: Autos — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:47 am

Wow, can you imagine renting a car in Boston for only $57 a week during the peak of summer? That is the price that one price checking site found.

Unfortunately, the actual price you pay is nowhere near $57 because of all the taxes and fees that get added to the base rental price of the car.


All the taxes, fees, and surcharges add up to $66.74 — an amount that is more than the price of the car rental itself.

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  1. Why aren’t car rental companies required to list which are real taxes and which are fees that just fatten their wallets. Florida car rental companies are also “extravagant” in their extra fees.

    Comment by Robert from NYC — September 5, 2011 @ 9:46 am
  2. They explain them to you verbally without telling you which are daily and which are weekly and have you initial them. Later, when you turn in the car and you’re surprised by the huge overall cost, they say, “Well, you initialed it.” There is a way to know; unfortunately, it’s called “experience.”

    Comment by spstanley — September 5, 2011 @ 10:26 am
  3. having to rent vehicles for work, I am very familiar with the taxes/surcharges. The only “tax” that pads the rental company is the vehicle license cost. The rest are for various governmental agencies (airport, convention center, etc).

    Blame the system, not the rental companies who have to charge these stupid fees.

    Comment by mark — September 5, 2011 @ 10:37 am
  4. I would expected a separate entry for the car payment. You are paying an extra fee for licensing. What is all this about? What is the $6 per day customer “facili” fee? Energy surcharge? You’re already renting a compact car, not a big SUV or truck. I’d like to see an explanation from the rental agency about each added cost, and the justification for it (local/state regulations). The airport concession fee is basically a convenience fee, meaning that the vehicle is available at the airport, but how did they come up with the amount of $11.20 from an 11.11% rate. Two days? A concession fee to rent the car and one to return the car?

    Comment by Bob — September 5, 2011 @ 11:42 am
  5. Bottom line is that travelers, be they tourists or business people, typically don’t vote in the local rental area and are easy targets for whatever the locals want to tack on. I live in the Orlando area and I suppose I’m in the minority, but I am against most increases in the various fees nailed on to hotel and rental car transactions. Yes, they keep my taxes lower than they might be otherwise, but other than the gas stations near the airport and the theme parks, the local governments are the biggest ripoff artists around and I don’t like it much.

    Trouble is, there seems to be no limit and “what the market will bear” therefore does not apply. The market will clearly bear ANYTHING as long as it’s in incremental steps. Tourism numbers have clearly shown that ticket, food, and gas prices, and locally assigned fees and taxes, can all rise continually and people will still come and pay them. I used to be embarrassed by it, but for a long time now I’ve figured come on down, or better yet, stay home and just send the money. I still object to the occasional (frequent?) increases in the fees. Funny, but the hospitality industry sees them as guests, but the local governments see them as pigeons. The “feel better” point, however, is that I know from my days of business travel that it goes on everywhere — some places have refined it to an art and Mouse country is a gallery of such works.

    Comment by Bob — September 5, 2011 @ 12:21 pm
  6. Rent from an off-airport location and you won’t be charged the Airport Concession Fee or the Customer Facility Charge.

    Comment by Justin Johnson (JJJJust) — September 5, 2011 @ 3:51 pm
  7. I have tried renting from an off-airport location but unfotunately it was more expensive and cheaper for me to drive 1 hour to the airport and rent a car.

    Comment by Peter — September 6, 2011 @ 11:06 am
  8. Anybody rented a car at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport? The fees there are among the worst in the country.

    Comment by Bill — September 6, 2011 @ 11:19 am
  9. Lowest fees I’ve had are in Puerto Rico. Most seem to be about double the rental price.

    Comment by rick — September 6, 2011 @ 11:48 am
  10. They’ve tried to gouge me but not on fees. My ex-employer’s contract with a major rental company was something like $25/day. A 3 and a 1/2 day rental would be rounded up to 4 days for 4*25=$100 and you’ve returned the car early. One time, instead of rounding up, they tried to charge me for the *hours* in the fractional day at $10/hour so this 3 and 1/2 day rental would have cost 3*25+12*10=$195. I’m sure they’ve gotten away with it on rental noobs.

    Comment by anonymous — September 6, 2011 @ 4:45 pm
  11. I asked Dollar what the fees represent on a booking I have in Houston.

    Shown below are descriptions of most of the fees and surcharges mentioned in your e-mail:

    Airport Concession Fee- A fee paid to the airport authority by car rental companies for the right to do business in or on the airport property. All customers pay this fee regardless of how they arrive at the car rental counter.

    Energy Recovery Fee (“ERF”)- to help recover energy costs related to our business operations to all customers at applicable locations. The fee will be reflected in your reservation total on December 1st and will not exceed $0.70 per day for a maximum of 10 days.

    Rental Tax- is a fee charged by car rental companies to recoup a portion of the operating money involved with doing business in the state.

    Tag Recovery Fee- A fee charged by car rental companies to recoup a portion of the money paid to the state to register their vehicles.

    Facility Usage Fee- This fee is charged by the airport authority. It is used to recoup the money it cost to build and maintain the common car rental facilities that have been built or are in the process of being built on the airport. ALL customers must pay this fee regardless of how they arrive at the rental counter.

    County Rental Tax- City, State and municipal government agencies impose extra fees, taxes and surcharges for various reasons. These include the building of stadiums and convention centers. Local customers must check at the rental counter to see if they are exempted from paying the fee.

    Bus Cost Recovery Fee- A fee that is charged for operating buses at the airport.

    Comment by rick — September 6, 2011 @ 5:24 pm
  12. All car rentals are exorbitant. My latest was with Hertz, my personal car broke down so I needed a rental for 1 day. They advised me that if they had to refuel it would be 7 bucks a gallon and I agreed to that.
    I put 12 miles on that car so I figured I’d let them refuel it.
    The lot guy called over the radio and claimed he put 10 gallons in the car, even though I pointed out that I only went 12 miles and by that calculation the Tercel was only getting 1.2 miles per gallon they insisted on charging me the 70 bucks for fuel….yes my mistake for not fueling myself but they’ve lost customers over their inane extortive tactics.

    Comment by Bob — September 8, 2011 @ 4:59 pm
  13. H.R. 4175: End Discriminatory State Taxes for Automobile Renters Act of 2009

    We need to get this bill reintroduced and passed!

    Comment by Sharon Novack — September 9, 2011 @ 1:42 pm
  14. Very timely article! I’m renting a car on a trip back home to see family and usually depend on others to get me around. Now that I know about the fees, I won’t have sticker shock when I look at the bill on my credit card. And thanks for all the comments, they were helpful as well.

    Comment by Sko Hayes — September 10, 2011 @ 7:31 am
  15. Talk about pulling the wool over your eyes. Companies will do anything to get you in the door, but once you’re their they squeeze every penny they can get out of you.

    Comment by WeBuyCarsOnline — September 20, 2011 @ 12:52 am
  16. A few years ago, I rented from Thrifty in Seattle (off-airport). They charged the following fees on top of the required taxes: vehicle licensing fee, concession recovery fee (11.1%), facility use fee, frequent flyer fee. Whether companies are on or off airport, they all seem to charge “concession recovery” and “facility use” fees. The “energy recovery fee” is becoming more and more common, too.

    This fee craziness has spilled over into other businesses. A local, upscale cinema charges an extra fee to cover the cost of having cash registers to collect the cost of the admission ticket and fee!

    Comment by Andrew — September 21, 2011 @ 12:57 am
  17. Book your car rental online at a site that breaks down the extra fees and adds them to the total when searching for the best deal. Priceline and Hotwire do this nicely. So “Total Amount Due” is what you’ll actually pay.

    Comment by alba — September 27, 2011 @ 2:22 pm

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