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Which Car Rental Places Mark-up Fuel Prices the Least (and the Most)

I’ll admit it.  I’ve returned a car without refueling it.  Sometimes I’ve been shocked at my credit card bill.  Other times, pleasantly surprised.

It turns out that car rental places really, really vary in what they charge to refill your car.

(One car rental place waived my refueling fee when I returned the car completely clean during the winter–they were just relieved they didn’t have to wash it, and I was only a gallon or so low).

gas rental caar

But here are the rates that I could find by contacting different car rental places.  If there’s something you want on this list, just let me know in the comments, and I’ll investigate.  (As a note, this is an update on research I did last year)

For pricing for the fuel itself, I used DC pricing.  So if you are in Texas, they may run cheaper, and in California, it may be more expensive.  But it will give you the scale of differences between the car rental companies.

Alamo and National (the same parent company) ended up being the cheapest.  Enterprise would not disclose, but I seem to remember a fee with Enterprise.  Avis, Dollar, Budget, and Hertz had the most expensive refueling charges of the group.

For all of them, remember–if you buy the cheaper pre-paid gas but do not use it all, you do not get a refund.  They are hoping you overbuy.

Avis

If you do not bring it back the car with the gas tank full, you will be charged $9.00 per gallon.

National

They will charge you $3.69 per gallon.

Alamo

If you do not pre-buy the gas, they will charge you $3.69 per gallon.   This is the same as National

Enterprise

They said they change the price frequently based on the current gas market, but would not give out any actual numbers.  I do remember them being expensive in the past, but YMMV.

Budget

The refill rate is $9.89 per gallon. They also mentioned in the past that if you drive less than 75 miles they will charge $13.99 unless you show your fuel receipt.

Dollar Rent-a-Car

Dollar will charge you $9.99 per gallon.

Thrifty

<could not be reached>  Their prices last time, however, were on par with Hertz.

Hertz

$9.99/gallon

 

So there you have it.  The costs of most the companies I researched.  Please let me know if there’s anything you would like added to this list!

About Jeanne Marie Hoffman

Former bartender, still a geek. One equal part each cookies, liberty, football, music, travel, libations. Stir vigorously. +Jeanne Marie Hoffman Jeanne on Twitter

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5 comments

  1. In the LA area, at least, Avis has the same arrangement as Budget that you list: if you drive less than 75 miles and don’t show a gas receipt, they charge you the flat $13.99 fee. I rent out of the LAX location while a co-worker rents out of LGB, and we both have that option available. They don’t give you any leeway: the one time I inadvertently went over 75 miles for the week (and by < 4 miles) without refueling, I got hit with a big refueling charge. So if you want to take advantage of the flat fee option (it's definitely convenient and not a horrible deal given California gas prices), you really need to pay attention to your mileage over the course of the rental.

  2. You got Budget wrong – rather obviously so. The 13.99 charge is their EZFuel option. It’s a flat charge not a per gallon charge. Hertz, Avis, and others have exactly the same thing with different names.

    • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

      Thanks! That’s a typo and I have no idea why I made it. I guess I got too used to typing per gallon! Thanks for pointing out!

  3. Silver car is small but they don’t surcharge on fuel or tolls.
    Thrifty requires you to show receipt of when and where you filled up before drop off.

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