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Travel Tip: Watch Out for Hidden Car Rental Penalties

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bigstock_Car_Park_at_Airport_16217993We are all aware the advertised rate for a car rental is rarely the final price. But there are other sneaky costs you need to watch out for: penalties.

Car rental companies can penalize drivers for any number of violations, which may show up on your bill long after you return the car. Peter investigated a case in which a woman was charged $200 for smoking in the car. Except…she wasn’t a smoker. Inspectors found ash in the car, which turned out to be from a potted plant. They took off the charge once Peter cleared it up for them.

Obviously, you’ll be charged for a late return…but an early return? If you got a special rate—say for a weekly rental—an early return can void the negotiated fee.

Just like airfares, car rental rates often rise during busy periods. Even major events like a big game can increase prices locally

Just remember: everything is negotiable. Call the direct number, get them to disclose all the fees upfront, and then see where they can find wiggle room to make sure they get your business.

For more information, check the Car Travel archive.

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