It’s pretty common knowledge now that it’s usually a good idea to fill up your rental car with gas on your own rather than take the pre-paid fuel option. And if you only drive your car a short distance and the tank still reads “full” when you return it, then you don’t need to worry about buying gas at all, right? Well, that answer is sometimes, and here’s why.
Perhaps inspired by the long list of added fees invented by the airlines, many rental car companies have added a new fee of their own – for not refilling the tank even when it is basically full. Here’s the deal…if you drive less than 50 or 75 miles, the tank is probably still going to be on “F” when you return it. But to the rental car company, it’s not really full anymore since you’ve probably burned a gallon or two. If you read the fine print with your contract, you’ll probably find something called the “EZ-Fuel” fee or something like that, which says if you drive less than 75 miles then the rental car company has the right to charge you a fee (usually about $14.99) for the convenience of not filling the tank.
If you figure a gallon of gas is about $3, then that’s a pretty steep mark-up to pay that fee. The good news is that this rental car fee is easy to avoid. The fine print also says that if you present the rental car company with a receipt showing you bought gas, then they won’t charge you the fee. In truth, the rental car companies often won’t charge this fee anyway, and you can probably talk your way out of it if they try to charge you (tell them you paid for the gas with cash). But if you want to avoid a potential headache and an extra fee, make a quick stop for gas. Remember it doesn’t say how much you have to put in, only that you need to have a receipt. That’s just another helpful tip for saving money on rental cars from RentACarNow.com.