Every car rental agency has its own policy. However, they do have a common policy that allows customers to choose a prepaid option when renting one of their vehicles. This prepaid option permits the driver to pay an upfront fee, as stated in the rental agreement, eliminating the need for the drive to return the vehicle with a full tank of gas. No refund is given to the driver for any fuel that's left in the tank when the vehicle is returned.
If you decide not to choose the prepaid plan, and you return your vehicle with a gas tank that's less than full, you will most likely have to pay the rental company for having to refuel the vehicle. Their fuel charge will most likely be based on an estimate: the number of gallons needed to fill the tank times the cost per gallon as stated in the rental their rental agreement. Quite often, car rental agencies will charge a higher price per gallon than your local gas stations.
Rental Car Agencies May Charge $8.00 or More per Gallon
Here's the shocker! There are some rental companies that may charge $8.00 or more to fill up the gas tank after you return a vehicle. That's a huge dent in the wallet, especially for people who've opted for the prepaid plan. At some point, a person will need to add fuel. And if that person returns the vehicle with more fuel in the tank than starting with, he/she won't be credited for the additional fuel. So the rental company makes a profit on prepayment. That's extra gas the rental agency won't have to replace.
Business travelers can easily get the short end of the stick. Initially, they may have chosen not to go with the prepaid option. And in a hurry to return their car and catch a flight, they didn't fill up the tank. This last-minute chaos can cost them to pay dearly. Rental car agencies may charge $8.00 per gallon or more.
Think Before You Sign the Dotted Line
Is it possible to know exactly how far you'll end up driving and what the fuel costs will be? Probably not! So, in the rush to take advantage of what seems like a good bargain up front, people quite often go for the prepaid plan. And this attitude may be what many car rental companies are counting on. Business travelers may take the attitude that paying the extra fee is no big deal, since their companies are footing the bill. That may be the wrong attitude. Companies do examine their expenses.
Some Car Rental Companies are Flexible
A number of car rental companies may allow you to forego the prepaid option, and free you from the worry of having to fill up the tank before returning the vehicle. In this scenario, you're only required to replace the gas you've used. If your rental had a half tank of fuel to start, you're only required to return it with a half tank of fuel. Take the time to weigh the pros and cons of the fuel tank option.