When you book a plane ticket, airlines are now required to disclose all extra fees up front, so there are no surprises.
But that's not the case when it comes to your rental car, as one woman learned.
Great rates at first
This is the time of year many of us rent a car for vacation.
But when Marcia Anderson started searching for a one week rental, she couldn't believe what she found.
"I found rates from $9.95 to $14.95 a day," Anderson said, "but when you went to sign up for it, it had over $110 worth of fees added on."
One Kia Rio looked great at $14 a day, but another $8.60 in fees made it really $23.
Anderson said the great $149-deal she found ended up totaling more than $250, a result of a series of added-on fees she couldn't begin to comprehend.
"$17.30 for a concession recoup fee?" she asked. "Then there was '$41 for a facility fee' and $8.45 for a you-drive-it tax, whatever that is."
The Hidden Fees
The website SmarterTravel.com says you can expect to be hit with:
-An airport tax, if you are renting from an airport location.
-A concession fee, for the rental company's booth or counter inside the airport.
-A stadium or tourism tax in some cities.
-An under-25 penalty if you are a young driver.
-A vehicle license fee.
-A loss or collision damage waiver (LDW): $20 a day, if you want them to insure the car, instead of your own insurance company.
-An extra driver fee, if you plan to have a second driver who is not your spouse.
-And don't forget the fuel charge of $7 a gallon if you don't fill up at return time.
So the bottom line: Check fees carefully.
Anderson feels that websites should disclose the fees up front, like airlines do, saying "when you go to pay, some people might not notice the price, or even if you do you've already started the wheels rolling, and it's too late to back out and start over."
One way around fees
One way some savvy travelers save, if there's a free shuttle service from the airport: rent at a downtown or hotel location, rather than at the airport. Of course, this won't work if you have to pay a cab to get you to the rental desk.
But if you can rent at a hotel, you won't have to pay airport fees and taxes, which can be $20 a day in some areas.
That way you don't waste your money.
Don't Waste Your Money is a registered trademark of the EW Scripps Co.
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