industry terms and how fees are calculated. If you have a poor driving
record, renting a car may be next to impossible. The Federal Trade Commission
(FTC) prepared this brochure to outline some points to consider and questions to ask
when you reserve a rental car.
Choosing a Rental Car Company
Before you reserve a car, think about the size you want or need and how much
you’re willing to spend. This will help you avoid making a hasty or expensive
decision that you may regret later. At the same time, be aware that vehicle
classification systems vary. The terms “compact,” “mid-size,” and “luxury”
sometimes differ among companies.
Call several rental car companies for price estimates, or check rates through your
travel agent. Ask about specials geared to the length of time you need the vehicle.
Many companies offer weekly or weekend deals. If your plans are flexible, you
may be able to save money by renting a car when price breaks are available. But
be sure to ask about restrictions on special offers, including blackout dates when an
advertised price may not be available.
Facts for Consumers
Ask if the rental car company checks the driving records of potential customers. Many companies now check driving records when customers arrive at the counter. Some reject customers whose driving records don’t meet company standards. Even if you have a confirmed reservation, you may be disqualified from renting a car for moving violations within the last few years; seat belt law violations; accidents, regardless of fault; convictions for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), Driving Under the Influence (DUI), reckless driving, or leaving the scene of an accident; or driving with an invalid, suspended or revoked license. Ask your travel agent or the rental car company in advance whether your driving record will be checked.
Ask if there may be charges that could increase an advertised base rate, such as Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) fees (in states that allow them); a deposit or refundable charge; airport surcharges and drop-off fees; fuel charges; mileage fees; taxes; additional-driver fees; underage-driver fees; out-of-state charges; and equipment-rental fees (for items such as ski racks and car seats). These charges are defined below.