Check out our simple explanations for the most common terminology and jargon used by car rental companies! To help you choose the cheapest and most suitable car rental deals we’ve also highlighted some of the hidden charges and extra fees that car rental companies may add.

One-way surcharge

If you are dropping the car off at a different location from where you picked it up you may be charged an extra fee. Check with the rental company for the exact amount. You will normally be asked to pay this fee when you pick up the car. Note that this fee can be very large if you are dropping the car off in a different country or state from where you picked it up.

Collision damage waiver

Also known as “Loss Damage Waiver,” “Vehicle Damage Cover,” “Damage Excess Waiver” or a number of other similar names, this is basic insurance to cover accidental damage to the rental car. There is normally a very large deductible associated with the policy that the renter must pay for any insurance claim he or she makes. Always check the exact details of the policy with the rental company.

Related Article: Valuable Things to Check & Consider Before Renting a Car

When you pick up the car you may be asked for a “holding deposit” on your card for the deductible. The money will not be charged to your card but the amount is reserved and if you have an accident the deductible may be automatically debited from your credit card. Check in advance if the rental company requires a deposit and how much it will be.

This insurance policy usually doesn’t include damage to tires, glass, undercarriage and roof. Rental companies often offer additional insurance to cover these things and reduce the deductible to a minimal sum. These additional policies come under numerous names including “Super Collision Damage Waiver,” “Damage Excess Insurance” or simply “coverage without the deductible.” The deductible may be reduced to a small charge or even no charge but you may have to pay the deductible and then claim a refund from the rental company afterwards. Check the details of any additional insurance policy to ensure you know exactly what you are covered for.

You may save money by getting separate insurance from an independent insurance company to cover any damage to the rental car.

Fair Fuel Policy

What is a Fair Fuel Policy?

Each car rental quote has its own fuel policy. A Fair Fuel Policy means that you return the car with the same amount of fuel you picked it up with, or you get a free tank of fuel included in the price.

These offer better value than pre-paid fuel policies where you pay for the fuel when you pick the car up and return the car with an empty tank. The price per gallon charged by the rental company is usually higher than the price at local fuel stations and it is hard to return the car with an empty fuel tank!

Fuel policy

Full tank of fuel: paid at the time of pick-up

The car will come with a full tank of or diesel that you must pay for when you pick up the car. You are expected to return it empty. You will not be refunded for any fuel you don’t use so make sure the tank is as empty as possible when you return the car. This is probably the most expensive fuel policy as the price per gallon charged by the rental company is usually higher than the price at the local fuel stations and it is hard to return the car with an empty fuel tank!

Full tank of fuel: free

The car will come with a full tank of diesel and you are expected to return it empty. The cost of this tank of fuel is included in the rental price. You will not be refunded for any fuel you don’t use so make sure the tank is as empty as possible when you return the car.

Full tank of fuel: return as received

The car will come with a full tank of diesel and you are expected to return it with a full tank. If you do not return the car with a full tank you may be charged for refueling the car. Make sure you know where the gas station nearest to your drop-off location is and check that it will be open when you want to return the car. This is the easiest fuel policy and often works out as the cheapest (if you return the car with a completely full tank!).

Quarter-tank of fuel: return as received

The car will come with a quarter-full tank of diesel and you are expected to return it with quarter of a tank. If you return the car with less than a quarter of a tank you may be charged for refueling the car.

Quarter-tank of fuel: paid at the time of pick-up

The car will come with a quarter-full tank of diesel that you must pay for when you pick up the car. You are expected to return it empty. You will not be refunded for any fuel you don’t use so make sure the tank is as empty as possible when you return the car. Note that the price per gallon charged by the rental company is usually higher than the price at the local gas stations and it is hard to return the car with an empty fuel tank!

Half-tank of fuel: paid at the time of pick-up

The car will come with a half-full tank of or diesel that you must pay for when you pick up the car. You are expected to return it empty. You will not be refunded for any fuel you don’t use so make sure the tank is as empty as possible when you return the car. Note that the price per gallon charged by the rental company is usually higher than the price at the local fuel stations and it is hard to return the car with an empty fuel tank!

Theft protection

Also known as “vehicle theft coverage,” this provides coverage for the theft of the rental car. This is usually included in the rental price but may be subject to a large deductible. Check with the rental company for the exact details of the theft protection policy.

Third-party insurance

Third-party coverage is basic insurance for claims made against the renter. The limit for the amount you can claim may be very low and there may be a high deductible. It is also known as “liability insurance.” Check with the rental company for the exact details of the third-party insurance policy. The rental company may offer extended protection to raise the limit for the amount you can claim but this is unlikely to be included in the rental fee.

Cancellation policy

If free cancellation is included the rental company will let cancel your reservation for free. Sometimes there is a time restriction (for example: free cancellation within 7 days of reserving the car). Check with the rental company for the exact details of the cancellation policy.

Optional extras

If you would like a car seat, booster seat, GPS, snow chains, roof rack or ski rack you may need to inform the rental company at the time of reservation. These optional items are usually charged on a daily basis and are normally payable at the time of reservation or when the vehicle is returned.

Source: Skyscanner