What to Do When the Rental Car Company Tries to Overcharge You

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car rental overcharge
Photo by Atomic Taco.

Being Overcharged for a Rental Car & How to Get it Fixed

Last weekend I was in Salt Lake City hiking up mountains and riding roller coasters with my friends. It was a great weekend and one I helped to make cheaper for everyone by using some of my points. One of the areas, I didn’t use points was for our car rental.

I was however able to score us a decent deal by using Costco Travel to book a two day rental through Budget. Since I didn’t want to be the only one driving, I love that Costco includes an extra driver for free with Budget rentals.  $64 all-in for an airport rental is definitely not the best deal ever, but it was good enough.

Renting the Car

car rental overcharge
The contract has the full rates, but doesn’t show coupons or corporate discounts.

We arrived at the airport around midnight, so the desk agent looked bored. I was able to confirm that the extra driver was free and he added my friend’s information and tried to send us on our way. For some reason the numbers on the Budget contract didn’t show the final price, so I confirmed it with him. His final words to me as we left the desk were $64. He had even upgraded us to a Cadillac XTS. Perfect!

Unfortunately, when we went to return the car, I was handed a receipt for $109.14. The agent had charged us $17.99 per day plus taxes and fees for an extra driver. This was far from a mistake in my opinion, since I confirmed the final price with him. My best guess is that he received some sort of commission for upping the contract price and was hoping that I wouldn’t notice the price at the end.

How to Get This Resolved

car rental overcharge
We did have a fantastic car!

Yes I was upset, but I have learned that it can do far more anger to let things like this eat me up inside. Instead, I decided to follow through and let things be resolved. Here is the process to follow when trying to get a car rental overcharge corrected:

Step 1 – Talk to the Manager

After receiving the increased receipt, I went inside to speak to the manager, but he was gone for the night. The desk agent was nice and confirmed my rate should have been $64. She said she would have the manager take care of it the next day and email me the new receipt.

Step 2 – Reach out to Corporate

Two days passed and I still hadn’t heard from Budget, so I decided to Tweet their social media team. I have found that tweeting is often much more effective than filling out a complaint form. Within an hour, the social media team had escalated this and it took about a day for me to receive my revised receipt. If it hadn’t been resolved by this point, there were more steps I could have taken.

Step 3 – Contact Booking Agent

I wouldn’t always do this if I booked through a company with poor customer service, but in this case I booked through Costco who would have taken care of it. I had a confirmed price from my email, so I had no doubt that they would have fixed it.

Step 4 – Dispute the Credit Card Charge

If nothing else would have worked, then I would have not hesitated to dispute the charge. In my situation, I had a confirmed price which also stated that an extra driver was free. Had I submitted a claim, Budget would not have been able to show that I authorized the additional charge. I believe it would have been overturned.

Avoid a Surprise

One other common issue at car rental agencies is people being rightfully charged fees they didn’t learn or know about. Make sure to understand the company’s policies so you don’t end up paying more than you expected. If you don’t  have something in writing saying that a fee is waived, then don’t expect it to be. Most of the complaints I see about car rental companies relate back to people not understanding fees & policies.


I am glad I was able to resolve my situation without any stress at all. Don’t get me wrong, I was upset that this guy felt the need to do this, but it was fixed easy enough and this really is the first overcharge I have had in many many years so I can’t complain. In the end, following these steps should ensure you get your money back if you have been overcharged for a car rental.

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  1. I reserved a full-size suv online from Avis
    To move from one residence to another. After they charged me and reserved this vehicle type. I went in the following morning to pick up the truck. To only be told that they didn’t have this vehicle to provide. The manager Hoover said I can give you a Chevy impala in its place. At this point I was told I wouldn’t have the option for a refund so it was accept it or go without a vehicle. He never credited me back the additional money and fees that I was being charged for having a larger vehicle. They charged me 160.00 for 2 days and a 250 hold that I have not gotten back and it’s been 8 days. So I paid about $410 for a car I didn’t need. And no one seems to be able to help. I think I’m going to try the social media route to see if that will make them want to make things right

  2. I understand that some people misunderstand rental contracts and or additional charges. This story sounds very typical, although a trivial amount of money. I’ve been ripped off blatantly by car rental companies for large sums of money on many occasions, usually overseas. Europcar, returned the car in perfect condition. One of the employees used a sharp object to make a 3 inch long scratch near the bottom of the passenger side door while I was in the office. When I came out to inspect the car with the other Europcar employee, wow here is a fresh (rough to the touch) scratch that is conveniently just about an inch longer than the little plastic circle they use to determine if damage is big enough for them to charge you for. I had only the insurance from my credit card which ended up being useless after wasting many hours and filling out lots of paperwork for nothing.
    Another Europcar scam… Gave me the invoice for the entire rental 1,435 Euros, returned the car days early. Get charged $760 dollars extra with no explanation.
    Another Europcar scam… I’m a non-smoker, return the car, everything seems fine. Get back to your home country, surprise your credit card has been charged a fee for “smoking” in the rental car.
    It’s a sad day when corporations systematically rip off their customers and the credit card companies side with the car rental companies. What can I do about this outrageous scam? Any ideas, please share?

  3. I made arrangements through Hotwire on a Thrifty car rental in New Orleans, 5 days for $317. Went to the counter, handed the agent my online confirmation and he said is there anything else? I told him I needed to add two additional drivers to the rental. The agent said that’s an additional $13 per day and a $200 deposit. Saw the total cost was $645 minus a $200 return deposit would make the rental $445, that seemed correct. I later found out the agent added all the insurance coverage, roadside assistance, blah, blah, blah blah…my bad for not looking the agreement over but when you’re just off a flight and the rental counter is busy you tend to get in a hurry and that’s what I did. The actual total was $645 after the $200 return on the deposit. Called Thrifty after returning the car and they said sorry bruh, you signed the agreement, not our problem.

    Later did some research and found a lot of the same complaints from others who were slammed after they made online rental arrangements. Seems this issue is pretty common when renting from an airport car rental because customers are generally anxious to get their car and the rental counters are quite busy, perfect time for the slam, $200 lesson learned.

  4. Yeah thrifty gave a final charge amount when returning my boyfriend’s rental in Seattle. To his surprise an additional 300.00 was deducted from his bank later on. Reason… smoking. He stated he only smoked outside the vehicle and nothing was mentioned about any smoke smell when the agent got inside the car upon return. What a scam!!!!

  5. I buy the full coverage insurance so I don’t have to worry what happens to the car and I save my contract. Always check my credit card stamens and I leave the tank the way they gave it to me . When I call to complain (which is every time ,because they always do try to overcharge) I’m polite but firm. They have no emo so they adjust it . But it is annoying . They’re ALL dishonest.

  6. Same situation with Budget in Las Vegas with me ..I have rented car and next day car did not started in the middle of road. After almost all day waiting in the cold car (was 26 F that day)Budget brought replacement car
    When we return replacement car we got charged $3897(Budget told us ” for towing” (instead $387 for small Kia renta a week)
    Don’t know what to do? Help!

  7. I was upgraded to a bigger vehicle because that was all that was available when I rented. I prepaid online with budget and paid $597 for the month. That was the monthly price for a economy vehicle. I returned the car 3 weeks ago and was charged $2002.55 yesterday. I called Budget customer service to tell them about the mistake and that it was upgraded by the manager. Not only did they tell me that I had late fees, but that I owed $1667 for a monthly rate which is why I was charged. Outrageous!!! All they would offer me was $118 refund which was 25% of the fees that they stated I owed. They also said it included my prepayment, so I dont get thay back either. I have no idea what to do at this point. Of course I’m going to dispute it, but it may take up to 180 days to get it credited back to my card. I needed that money on my credit card for a trip that I’m taking in 2 weeks. How could they get away with this?

    • Evedenwell when you get a answer fill me in .My wife rented a car she called and exstended the renta1 2 days laterdays later came and stole the car in middle of the night and charged her $ 3300 and said she couldnt exstend on phone phoneto

  8. Thrifty (owned by Hertz) at DFW used same signature pad & piled on all charges verbally refused. A $163 rental becomes over $500! Credit card disputed & resolved in our favor. Hertz takes issue to collections… a collection agency that only works for rental car companies! In midst of taking to Attorney General & possibly consumer advocate(s). Beware!

  9. Lady at Dollar Rent A Car at McCarran airport asks if we want insurance. We say no we already have. She asks what is your car insurance information. We give it to her. We think she’s typing all this into the system and we think we are signing that we declined insurance when asked to sign the small rectangular signing pad (not the ones that show you what you purchased and the amounts…this pad is to only collect your signature). She prints docs, highlights, puts docs in envelope and send us on our way. She didn’t show us her screen, didn’t tell us she added insurance, nor tell us the total amount. Low and behold she charged the insurance! Manager, customer service all said the same thing…you already signed, nothing can be done. One even hung up on us. At least before with the paper contract, we could verify the insurance was declined before we signed and then they charge our card. This is no different than stealing my credit card information and charging insurance on it. I’m sure we’re not the only nor hers and other agents last victim. It’s one thing to pressure or lie to consumers to agree to buy your insurance but to still charge even when they decline is stealing. How can that not be an offense.

  10. Don’t rent from Payless in Las Vegas, they will add all sorts of extra charges. If you have to, always double check the final price.

  11. Unfortunately rental cars companies have become one of the biggest scams in this country. Problem is that the receipt they print out and give to you by the time you return the car means nothing. I had several times where the guy checked the gas tank and confirmed it was full printed out the receipt with the correct amount and later I would see a different charge on my credit credit card. When calling them they would say the tank was not full. Thus, the receipt means nothing and it is your word against theirs. They know many people don’t have time to do everything you did above so in many cases they will keep the money. Same goes for damages they claim they only saw after you returned the car. We need to change the rules somehow when by giving you the receipt they agree that the car was accepted and those are the final charges.

    • Something I learned while renting motorbikes in SE Asia: take pictures of them before you rent. Same goes with rental cars in the USA. Take pics of everything: car – inside and out, the gas level indicator – before and after, the receipt etc. It ALL comes in handy if they try to take you for a ride.


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