There’s a love-hate relationship with rental cars. It’s nice for convenience if your own car is not available, to save wear and tear to your own car, the joy of driving something newer, or just the joy of driving something you don’t have to take care of.  But the hate comes in when you have to fend off additional car rental fees that turn your $8.95 a day car rental into a $69.95 a day car rental nightmare. Those additional fees add up like Vin Diesel, fast and furious. But how can you avoid them when they all seem soo necessary when you’re looking at the rental car and options before you?

Avoiding excessive fees when renting a car requires you to turn down all of the additional options presented to you when you go to the rental agency to obtain the car. Some renters do this by avoiding personal agents altogether and renting through apps then picking up at the kiosk. This helps to avoid the upsell the car rental agent is highly trained for. Rental car agency profits come from upsells and excessive damage fees. The most common sources of additional fees and ways to avoid them are listed below.

Additional insurance

Additional insurance is pricey and not always required. If you are comfortable using your own automobile insurance policy for coverage, this can be used. Credit cards often provide additional coverage just by charging the rental to that specific credit card. There are also one-off policies that can also be purchased if you happen to think ahead.

Toll transponders

Car rental companies often charge daily fees for the use of their toll road transponders. These fees are charged even for days that the transponder is not used. This can be quite pricey over the span of the car rental, but the price for using the toll road without the rental toll transponder may be exorbitant. The only real solution is to avoid toll roads or bring your own transponder. Using a reliable GPS or mapping system on your phone can help you to avoid toll roads.

GPS rental fees

Despite the prevalence of built-in navigation systems and complex cell phone mapping apps, GPS rentals are still quite popular. The vehicle you are renting may not have the luxury of a built-in navigation system, or you may be traveling somewhere to which the system does not have an updated map. While renting a GPS from the rental car company can often seem like the easiest and most time effective choice, the use of your phone or even outright purchasing a GPS system on the road can often be cheaper than renting the one from the rental car company.


Woe betide the person who returns their rental car without having refilled the gas to the level they received it at! If you think the price of gas on a long weekend after a series of bad weather and OPEC controversies is high, just wait until you get that credit card statement. If you have difficulty determining just how much gas is required to fill it up to the level at which you received it, there’s a nifty app for that. It’s called Gas Break. It shows you the real gas tank capacity, so no more unnecessary and pricey overfills. The app helps you save approximately 10%, which is especially helpful for those that rent cars frequently.

Parking tickets

The dreaded rental car parking ticket. You received it and tucked it into your wallet, meaning to pay it before the reminder was sent to the rental car agency. Unfortunately, you forgot, and the rental car agency has now billed you the cost of the parking ticket AND added a service fee higher than that of the actual ticket. The only way to avoid those dreaded parking ticket fees is to do something about the ticket before the reminder can be sent to the rental car agency. Some believe that rental cars and out of town license plates are unfairly ticketed at a more frequent rate than locals, so the feeling that you get an undeserved parking ticket every time you rent a car may be an accurate one. You can immediately dispute it, which conveniently also avoids you having to immediately pay the ticket. Just remember that the hearing date will be sent to the rental car agency, and they have little incentive to let you know. And once that default conviction is entered because you didn’t attend to the hearing date, there is now an additional court fee added onto the price of the parking ticket.

There is a website called DoNotPay, which provides information and services that may help you in successfully defeating the dreaded rental car parking ticket. It’s always worth a try before admitting defeat to the meter maids.

Avoid damaging the car

One of the biggest ways to avoid excessive rental car fees is to avoid damaging the car. Damaging a rental car can mean anything from spilling something in the interior that requires a little bit more than the average rental car cleanup job to scratching the paint in a parking lot or from a stone chip, to actually hitting something or otherwise damaging the car through negligence or error. The smallest scratch will set you back, so it’s best to treat the rental car better than you would treat your own.