So you thought $3.00 a gallon gas was bad? Make sure that you don’t rent a car and take it back with a partially empty tank. According to an article at usatoday.com, you can pay close to $7 a gallon at some rental car companies to have the tank filled.
When you rent a car, you usually have three options to chose from for filling up the car on return:
1. Pre-pay the rental car company set fixed rate per-gallon
2. Fill up the tank yourself before returning the car to the rental company
3. bring the car back with less than a full tank and pay a company set fixed rate per-gallon (often times double the pre-pay rate)
The pre-pay rate will usually be higher than what you could fill up your car yourself. In addition, you usually have to purchase a full tank of gas and any remaining in the tank when you turn the car in will not receive a refund. Thus many people decline that option.
The problem with filling up the car on your own is that finding a gas station in a city you’re not familiar with (especially when you’re in a hurry) often means that your best intentions to fill up the car don’t work out. The rental car companies know this and therefore jack-up their rates on cars returned with less than a full tank.
While Avis charges $2.93 a gallon for a pre-paid fill-up for a car rented at Chicago O’Hare airport, it charges $6.99 a gallon if the car is returned less than full. Budget at the same location isn’t much better charging $2.90 for pre-pay and $6.95 for cars returned without a full tank of gas.
A good plan of action is to look for an exit close to the car rental location as you leave where you can fill up. If you forget that, ask at your hotel reception desk before leaving where the best place to fill up the car would be.