Rental Car Fees

Friday, November 12, 2010 - 10:04am

Rental car companies start charging new fees.

So, your rental car has a flat or dead battery and you didn't get the roadside assistance insurance.

Keep your wallet handy, because rental car companies are imitating the airline industry.

"They have found a lot of very creative ways to nickel and dime consumers,” said Bill McGee of consumer reports.

In fairness, most rentals are late model and low mileage, so breakdowns are unlikely.

But if you refuse the assistance coverage, you're now responsible for paying a locksmith or for running out of gas.

That's why consumer advocates advise you do other things that save money.

Like filling up before returning the car and being smart with accident insurance.

"These insurances probably are a duplication of coverages. So, if you own a car and you have insurance, that will cover you when you rent a car,” said Philip reed of

And when the agent offers you an upgrade for, say, only 10-bucks more per day, it may be because they don't have the car you reserved.

"It’s important to understand why they're offering it to you and that you can decline and often get it for free,” said reed.

It's reached the point that even the travel industry is cracking jokes.

"I just heard an analyst the other day...he wouldn't be surprised when rental car companies start charging for steering wheels," McGee said.

But it's hard to laugh when it's your money.

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