It turns out paying for a rental car is just the start. A child safety seat costs extra. So does satellite radio, emergency roadside assistance, and even the convenience of using E-ZPass to pay tolls.
Car-rental companies don't make it easy to find the charges on their websites. But they certainly do a great job of loading on the fees when you return the car.
For instance, add a driver and that could be another $13 to $30 a day. If the second driver is under 25, the fee can jump to more than $100 a day! Lose the key, and that can cost you $375.
And be especially careful about picking up the car in one place and dropping it off in another. The lowest drop-off charge Consumer Reports ShopSmart found was $50. But believe it or not, in some cases Avis charges as much as $1,000 to drop off the car at another location.
And at Avis if you return a car even 30 minutes late, you'll be charged for almost a full day.
With any car rental, be sure to fill up before you drop off to avoid paying extra-high prices for gas. Then you'll avoid another possible fee for refueling. At Budget it's $14.
Consumer Reports ShopSmart says before you leave home, be sure to check your auto-insurance policy and credit-card protection, so you'll know whether you need to sign up for car-rental insurance. And it's always a good idea to pay with a credit card. That way you can dispute inaccurate charges.
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