Business Travelers Beware: Phantom Fees Driving Up Car Rental Costs

If a few innocuous scratches are putting a dent in your car rental bill, you’re not alone. Many business travelers are reporting an increase in vigilance by car rental companies on things like paint nicks, gas mileage and minor damage – even when those things weren’t their fault. And some travelers are reporting an uptick in phantom charges for damages caused by previous drivers.

With all these fees adding up quick, it’s worth a look at your travel and expense policy to see what’s covered – and what isn’t.

Keep an eye out for odd charges

Match the level of vigilance from your rental agency with your own eagle eye at check out and check in. Check out the car thoroughly before you drive off. Not every rental company has an associate look over the vehicle with you from the get-go. Report damages straight away and take photos – it’s an extra step in your busy day, but it will pay off in the event that the company asks you to pay up.

Scanning the final bill for strange fees or unwarranted damage claims is also worth the few extra minutes – and it’ll save you days, weeks or even months of stress fighting possibly false charges. If you do end up with fees for damages you didn’t cause, contact your travel manager and start a dispute. You’ll have to get your credit card and insurance company in on the fight, but stand your ground and keep evidence. Pictures, documented damage assessments and the like should help make your case. So will patience.

Know the insurance policy

When renting on a business trip, be clear about how your company covers car rental insurance and what credit card works best. Your own personal insurance may or may not include rentals – it’s worth a check in with both your insurance agent and credit card company on what’s covered before heading out of town.

Your company likely has an insurance plan for car renters and chances are loss and damage will be covered – to a point – when you use your corporate credit card to pay for the rental.

Some policies recommend buying the auto rental company’s loss or damage waiver when you check in. Renters who choose this option usually won’t be billed for loss or damage to vehicles, according to major rental companies.

Loading next article