Can You Smoke in a Rental Car?

Have you ever wondered if you can smoke in a rental car?

It may be really tempting if you ever get a craving or just want to relax on a long drive during a trip.

But is it possible that you could be risking big fees and also exposing other travelers to harmful chemicals?

In this article, we will talk about the risks with smoking in a rental car and also break down the different policies for major rental car companies to see if any of them allow it.

Overview of rental car company smoking policies

Most if not all major US rental car companies outlaw smoking in rental cars.

Some local agents may not enforce the ban, but that’s probably very rare.

The penalties for smoking in a rental vehicle could be pretty steep as rental car companies could hit you with a fee for up to $500. It’s even possible to get a permanent ban with some companies!

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

Why is smoking in rental cars banned?

Car rental companies don’t permit smoking in rental cars because they want their cars to be odor free.

Customers are less likely to rent cars if the interiors smell like cigarettes. Also, smoking could damage cars with burn marks, littered cigarette buds, and ash discoloration. 

Smoking in rental cars is also unethical and perhaps even dangerous.

The effects of smoking in a car may remain long after you’ve returned it, and it’s unethical to expose other people to those dangers. 

You have probably heard of second-hand smoke before which is smoke that you come into contact with from other people smoking nearby.

But have you ever heard of a third-hand smoke?

Third-hand smoke refers to the tobacco residue left behind from smoking cigars and other tobacco products.

It includes nicotine as well as cancer-causing substances such as formaldehyde and naphthalene, not to mention heavy metals like arsenic, lead, and cyanide.

Third-hand smoke builds up on surfaces within cars and can even be re-emitted into the air. 

You may have experienced third-hand smoke if you’ve ever sat in a car with a stale smoke smell in the interior.

Third-hand smoke in vehicles is a huge health concern and difficult to prevent.

Studies have found that commonly used ventilation methods failed to decrease third-hand smoke. For example, rolling down the windows while smoking may not significantly decrease the contamination.

Related: Should You Pre-Pay the Gas for Your Rental Car?

How to avoid smoking fees after your next car rental

The only way to avoid smoking fees is to either not smoke or have the car cleaned before returning it if you’ve smoked in it. 

But if you’ve picked up a rental car that someone else already smoked in, that’s a different story. In that case, you can use the following tips to avoid paying the smoking fees. 

Don’t accept it if you smell cigarette smoke before picking up the car

If you suspect someone has already smoked in your rental car before you, inform the company. And get a different car. Otherwise, the car company might hold you responsible for the smell after you’ve returned it. 

Be on your toes, if the smell emerges

Inform the car company immediately if you smell cigarette smoke in the car after you’ve already picked it up. They will usually douse the car with strong cleaners to sanitize it, removing the smell.

When you inform them, ensure you explain that you didn’t smoke in the vehicle. The company should not charge you for the cleaning if you’re not responsible for it.

Get a waiver

Make sure the car company doesn’t charge you for smoke damage if they accept you didn’t smoke  

Ask the car rental company to give you a waiver when you return the car. Car rental employees are usually in a hurry, so you’ll have to ensure they provide you with a proper waiver.

Be mindful of late charges

Rental companies are notorious for adding late charges, potentially including smoking fees, even after you’ve paid your rental fees. So check your credit card statement at the end of the month you rent a car. 

Notify your credit card issuer immediately if you notice any suspicious charges in your statement. 

Should you still try to smoke in a rental car?

If you anticipate having strong cravings to smoke while in a rental car, you might still consider smoking during your travels.

But this is a bad idea.

As you will see below, rental car companies may impose huge fees for turning in a vehicle with evidence of smoking. And as you probably know, it’s pretty easy to detect if someone has been smoking inside of a vehicle.

It’s true, you could resort to certain tactics like smoking with the window down but those are not full proof. For example, you could still easily get ash inside the vehicle which could be difficult to get out of a seat.

But more importantly, as mentioned above, it’s really hard to get out the remnants from third hand smoke.

So chances are unless you are an expert cleaner, you will be leaving behind harmful chemicals and exposing other people to them. It’s just not a very considerate way to go.

Instead, if you really have to smoke when renting a vehicle, park in a designated smoking area and smoke outside.

Related: Dropping a Rental Car off After Hours: Essential Tips When A Location is Closed  

How Do Rental Car Companies Know if You Smoke?

Rental car companies have an agent inspect your vehicle after you return it. These inspectors are trained to spot physical evidence of smoking, like ash burns or the smell of tobacco. 

It’s relatively easy to find evidence of smoking in a car. Cigarette smoke leaves a strong smell that’s hard to miss. Non-tobacco products like marijuana and even some vapes also leave behind strong smells. 

The smoking policies of different car rental companies 

Pretty much all car rental companies ban smoking, but the policies vary. Some explicitly ban smoking non-tobacco products like marijuana, while others don’t. 

The penalties for smoking also vary. Some companies charge higher fees than others. A few will even permanently ban you from their service for smoking in their cars!


Alamo’s terms and conditions state that you accept that their vehicles are ‘non-smoking cars’ and agree to pay additional cleaning fees if the car has to be cleaned and deodorized because of smoking. 


Avis states that smoking is not permitted in any rental cars. They began a non-smoking policy in 2009. They also charge a cleaning fee of $450 if you violate this policy. 


Budget does not permit smoking in any rental cars. This ban includes non-tobacco forms of smoking like vaping and e-cigarettes. They charge a variable cleaning fee depending on the degree of damage. 


Enterprise forbids all smoking in rental vehicles. And they charge over $500 in penalties. 


All of National’s cars are also explicitly non-smoking vehicles. They also charge a variable cleaning fee if evidence of smoking is discovered. 

Silvercar/Audi on demand

Silvercar prohibits all smoking in rental vehicles, including smoking non-tobacco substances, legal for medicinal or recreational purposes. They charge a cleaning fee of a minimum of $300 if any smoking evidence is found. 


Sixit has a 100% smoke-free fleet, and they ban all types of smoking, including cigarettes and cigars. They add an extra cleaning fee to your rental cost if you return a vehicle with evidence of smoking. 


Thrifty implemented a fully smoke-free policy in 2013. They’re one of the few major car rental companies that used to allow smoking. Before 2013, they had a separate smoking and non-smoking fleet. 

But due to repeated hygiene-related complaints, they became smoke-free in 2013. Nowadays, they also charge a variable cleaning fine if you smoke in their cars. 


Turo bans all tobacco and non-tobacco smoking, including marijuana or marijuana substitutes. Violation of this ban results in a fee of $250 plus an additional 3% processing fee and a permanent ban.

Final word

Smoking in a rental vehicle is just not a good idea.

The fees for getting caught can be very high and it can be pretty difficult to remove all of the evidence of your smoking, especially because you can’t undo burn marks and ash can be difficult to remove.

Even if you are thorough with your cleaning, chances are you’re still leaving behind harmful chemicals in the vehicle and that will force others to be exposed to them which is not a very considerate thing to do. So my advice is to just not smoke in your rental vehicle.

Should You Pre-Pay the Gas for Your Rental Car?

There are several different ways that rental car companies can “get” travelers.

An entire roster of random fees, mileage limitations, cleaning fees, the list goes on….

But perhaps one of the most common ways that they make extra money from customers is when they offer them the option to pre-pay for gas.

But why would pre-paying for gas be such a bad thing for customers? And could it really be a rip off?

In this article, we will take an in-depth look at whether or not you should pre-pay for your gas when renting a car. We will talk about both the positives and negatives of doing so and give you some advice on how to go about the situation.

Should you pre-pay for the gas for your rental car?

Pre-paying for your gas when renting a vehicle can cost you a lot of extra money because you typically are paying for a full tank and you may not get reimbursed for any unused fuel. This means that if you return a vehicle with half a tank of gas and you have pre-paid, you are basically donating half a tank of gas to the rental car company!

Keep reading to find out more!

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

How gas refills usually work when you rent a vehicle

The standard rule of thumb is for you to return a rental vehicle with the same amount of gas that you picked it up with.

Usually you just have to fill it up “roughly” to where it was before.

So let’s say that you were given a rental car that was filled up to “F.” In that case, you could fill up your tank and probably still put close to 15 to 20 miles on the car before returning it and be just fine.

If you do not return the vehicle with the required level of gas, you will be charged a rate per gallon that is higher than the average local price. This could be 50 cents higher, one dollar higher, or in some cases, even more than that.

You will need to ask the rental car agency what this premium rate will be because the terms found on their websites are often a little bit vague. For example, Enterprise just mentions that the prices will be higher than local prices. They state:

This option allows the renter to pay Enterprise at the end of the rental for gas used but not replaced. Price per gallon will be higher than local fuel prices.

If you accidentally fill up the gas higher than the required level of gas you might be able to talk to the rental car company about getting a refund or credit but your mileage may vary.

Ideally, a rental car company will give you a vehicle with a full tank of gas but that does not always happen. So if you receive a vehicle with only half a tank in it then you should only be obligated to return it with half a tank left.

The amount of gas in your vehicle should be noted on your rental contract so this is something to pay attention to when you check out your vehicle. You definitely want to make sure that it matches the level on the fuel gauge. If it doesn’t, then you should talk to an agent about it immediately.

It may also be worth taking a photo of both the fuel gauge and the odometer so that you have evidence of how much gas you had when you picked up the car.

Related: Dropping a Rental Car off After Hours: Essential Tips When A Location is Closed

Why it’s not a good idea to pre-pay for your rental car gas

There are quite a few reasons why you may not want to pre-pay for your gas when renting a vehicle.

Let’s take a look.

You may get charged for a full tank regardless of how much fuel the car has when you turn it in

Whenever you agree to pre-paid gas, you are probably paying for a full tank of gas. The problem with this is that you don’t typically get reimbursed for any gas that you don’t use.

For example, let’s say that you return your vehicle with half a tank left. You would think that because you pre-paid for a full tank that you would get reimbursed for that half a tank left over. But that’s not how many rental car companies work.

Instead, you would get charged for the full tank that you pre-paid and the remaining half tank of petrol sitting in your vehicle is essentially a donation to the rental car company!

You can usually find this policy in the terms and conditions. For example, Enterprise states:

This [pre-pay] option allows the renter to pay for the tank of gas at the time of rental and return the tank empty. No refunds will be issued for unused gas.

The fuel rates you’re paying may be higher

Rental car companies should be able to disclose to you how much they will be charging you per gallon whenever you pre-pay for your gas. This rate may be much higher than what you could find somewhere else, although sometimes they advertise it as a little lower (but see below on taxes).

Something to keep in mind is that the gas stations near an airport often have higher prices so if you are looking for the best savings you probably want to compare prices with gas stations somewhere just on the outskirts of town but not too close to the airport.

Tip: use an app like GasBuddy to help you research gas prices.

Be sure to inquire if the relevant taxes are included in the fuel rate given by the rental car company because if taxes are excluded, the actual rate that you are paying could be even higher. This is definitely something to look out for when renting vehicles from airports because of the hefty airport taxes.

If something seems off about the prepaid price you could also look into the size of the fuel tank for that make and model. It’s possible that the rental car company could be basing the cost of a fill up on inaccurate data!

You’re okay with doing some math and planning

As mentioned above, if you fail to fill up the gas tank to the same level it was when you picked it up, you will be charged a premium rate for the gas needed to fill the tank to that level.

If you know what that rate is and you know roughly how far below the level you may be, you could do some simple math and realize that you could pay a lesser amount for the same convenience of avoiding the gas station.

Let’s look at an example to clarify.

Assume you were returning a vehicle that was 3/4 of the way full but you originally picked up the rental car with a full tank. Now let’s say that the rental car company is going to charge you $20 to fill up that last quarter tank.

Well, compared to the ~$60 you may have been paying for the prepaid fuel, that’s a savings of about $40.

Of course, this requires some advanced planning, accurate predictions, and maybe even a little bit of luck.

But the point is that you can get the same convenience of avoiding a last-minute gas station stop but at a fraction of the cost if you are willing to strategically deal with the “punitive” gas prices.

Lose out on fuel points

If you have a credit card that earns special bonus points on your gas station purchases then you are going to lose out on points because you can’t get that prepaid gas expense to code as gas.

Tip: Check out the free app WalletFlo so that you can optimize your credit card spend by seeing the best card to use! You can also track credits, annual fees, and get notifications when you’re eligible for the best cards!

Why it’s a good idea to pre-pay for your rental car gas

With all of those points above taken into consideration, sometimes it still might be worth it to you to pre-pay for your rental car gas. Here are some situations when that might apply.

You are in a time crunch

Sure, paying a premium for your gas is not ideal. But neither is missing your flight or stressing out at a gas station to fill up your vehicle at the last minute.

Some airports may not have a convenient gas station nearby and you never know if a gas station will have pumps that are functioning or not.

For some people, eliminating the stress of having to fill up a rental car is worth paying extra for.

You’re okay with doing some math and planning

This is similar to the point against doing prepaid gas but it is on the opposite side of the spectrum.

If you know that you will use up an entire tank of gas and you are pretty good at predicting your mileage on your travels then it could be worth it to pre-pay for your gas.

That’s because you might be able to time it so that you return the vehicle when you are very low on gas.

Some people say you should basically be stalling out when returning your vehicle in order to avoid unnecessary expenses but I think that’s taking the savings to an unnecessary extreme.

The way I see it is that if you return your vehicle with roughly an eighth of a tank left or under, your pre-paid fuel mission is accomplished.

Yes, you are still paying a little bit more for that small amount of gas but it’s also provided you with the luxury of not having to deal with the last minute gas station run.

Your company is footing the bill

Some people like to be very conscious about their spending even when their company is covering the bill.

But other times, you may have an understanding with your company that it’s worth spending extra for added conveniences.

Avoiding a last minute gas station stop that helps you travel more efficiently to the airport could definitely be a worthwhile expense for some employers. It also helps to simplify bookkeeping and reimbursements since you don’t have to deal with multiple receipts.

Final word

Most people will be paying extra for gas if they choose to go with the pre-pay option.

However, if you value the convenience of avoiding a last minute gas station stop, and especially if you think you can somewhat accurately predict your gas usage, then you may want to consider pre-paying for a fill-up or just paying for the premium gas rates.

If you predict you will be close to empty when returning a vehicle, prepaid can make a lot of sense. But if you predict you will be close to full (or the default level of fuel you picked up the car with) then just paying the premium fuel rates may be the way to go.

Of course, if the budget is not an issue and it’s purely about convenience for you then you can throw planning out the window and just hope that you don’t end up donating too much petrol to a rental car agency!

Dropping a Rental Car off After Hours: Essential Tips When A Location is Closed

A lot of times when you rent a vehicle, you are not always able to perfectly plan out your drop off time.

Maybe you have an early or late red-eye flight or some other obligation that forces you to drop off the car very late or very early.

In those situations, what exactly are you supposed to do with your rental car if the rental car agency is not open?

In this article, we will provide you with some advice on how to handle after-hour drop offs, so that you will know exactly what to expect and you can avoid some common pitfalls.

Do rental car companies allow you to drop off after hours?

Most major rental car companies allow you to drop off a rental vehicle even after the rental car center is closed. This policy may not be officially advertised on the website but if you contact the rental car location they will usually verify that this is possible.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

How do you drop off a rental car after hours?

Verify the rental car company’s policy

As mentioned, most major rental car companies offer after-hour drop offs at their locations. But it’s possible that not all of them will so if you know you will have to drop off a vehicle late, call that specific location and inquire about it.

Some locations may not offer after-hours drop offs but they still might be flexible if you book an advanced payment booking. For example, they may stay open 30 minutes later since you are already paying for your rental vehicle and they can plan ahead.

If an airport location is not open 24 hours it might stay open a little bit later if they see that your flight has been delayed, so be sure to always add accurate flight details to your booking!

Verify you are at the correct location

The next step is to make sure that you are dropping off your rental car at the correct location.

If you are dropping off your vehicle at a non-airport location, this should be pretty easy to verify. For example, a lot of rental car locations have clear signage and it would be hard to mistake them for another location.

But if you are dropping off after hours at an airport, sometimes it’s not so clear.

This is because at small or regional airports, the drop off lots are not always well marked. Furthermore, sometimes several rental car companies are sharing the same lot while others may have their own lot.

This is why it’s a good reason to verify where the drop off lot is whenever you pick-up your vehicle.

Turn in your key

The next thing you will need to do is to turn in your key. Do not leave the key inside of the vehicle.

Sometimes there is a box or some type of slot where you can insert your key.

Again, make sure you are putting it in the proper box.

Take a look at the image below and you can see the slot for Avis on the right hand side of the booth.

If you want extra proof that you returned the key you can always record yourself placing the key into the slot or box.

Take photos of everything

When you return your vehicle during business hours a lot of times there are multiple people around and you deal directly with a rental car agent who takes custody of the vehicle.

In these situations, it’s less likely that “foul play” will happen although it still can.

But when you return the vehicle after hours there’s a chance that your vehicle might be sitting by itself for several hours. Therefore, there is an opportunity for dishonest people to do things like run up your mileage, reduce the fuel amount, etc.

So it’s a good practice to take photos of the fuel gauge, mileage odometer, and also photos of the exterior of the vehicle.

And don’t make the rookie mistake of taking your photos too zoomed in!

Instead, be sure to include the surroundings when you take your photo. If it’s dark, use the flash or a flashlight to illuminate the nearby ground, signs, parking lot numbers. Video can work, too.

This way if anything happens you can have proof of the status of the vehicle at the time you returned it and someone cannot accuse you of taking those photos before you returned the vehicle.

It also helps to keep track of your credit card statements or receipts if you filled up the vehicle before dropping it off.

Related: Rental Car Company Pet Policies: How to Avoid Getting Charged Hundreds of Dollars!

Be aware of the risks

Whenever you return the vehicle after hours, you are still technically responsible for that vehicle until the rental agency opens back up and an agent officially takes possession of your vehicle. This is a common policy for major rental car companies such as Avis, National, and Enterprise.

For example, Enterprises states:

If returning after hours when a branch is closed, the customer is responsible for the vehicle until the satisfactory check in of the rental vehicle the next business day.

Therefore, if something happens to the vehicle after hours you will be responsible for it.

If you took photos of your vehicle, that might help your case that you personally did not do the damage but it’s still possible they could put it on you.

If you have collision damage waiver or some other form of insurance, you should be covered but it will still likely be a hassle to deal with for a while.

For those reasons, you may want to think twice about returning a vehicle after hours if the lot is located in a sketchy area.

And regardless of the local environment, make sure that you lock the door on the rental car! You don’t want to get sued for negligence in the event someone were to access the vehicle and do some damage.

Your liability for turning in a vehicle after hours should be clear in the terms and conditions whenever you book your rental vehicle so it’s always helpful to go through those.

How after hour drop-off hours affect your rental rate

Rental car companies do not “turn back the clock” whenever you return the vehicle very early or very late.

For example, if your rental car was to be turned in at 7 AM and you returned it at 3 AM, you most likely will not get a discount for turning it in four hours early.

Instead, the time will end whenever the agent officially picks up your vehicle.

This can be really important if you are turning in your vehicle late.

Most rental car companies have a grace period where they allow you to turn in your vehicle a little bit late without a penalty.

For example, you might be able to return the vehicle one hour past the timeframe and still not get charged extra. Each rental car company has its own policy and you can check out a breakdown of those here.

If a rental car company closes at 10 PM and you return the vehicle at 11 PM, it’s very possible that the rental car company will not consider your vehicle turned in until they reopen in the morning.

Therefore, the grace period will probably not apply and you may have to pay for an extra day or at least some extra hours. So that’s just something to keep in mind.

Final word

Dropping off a rental car after the rental car location is closed is usually possible.

However, you want to verify this before hand and also verify where the drop off location is.

Finally, take pictures of important details like the fuel gauge and mileage and be aware that you are probably responsible for that vehicle until the rental car location opens up in the morning.

Rental Car Company Pet Policies: How to Avoid Getting Charged Hundreds of Dollars!

Bringing a pet such as your dog in your rental car is very doable.

In fact, a lot of rental car companies don’t actually charge extra money for your furry friends to tagalong.

The catch is that they will charge you lots of extra money if you don’t clean up well enough when it’s time to turn your vehicle back in.

Below, I’ll break down all of the different pet policies for major rental car companies.

I’ll also provide you with some helpful tips for avoiding getting charged a lot of extra fees by the rental agencies!

Overview of rental car pet policies

As you take a look at the different rental car pet policies, here are some of the common rules and restrictions you will find.

Not all locations allow them

You’ll find that most rental car companies allow pets but some locations might not. So it’s always a good idea to confirm with the specific location you are renting from that they accept pets.

May need to be crated

Some rental car policies state that the dog or pet must be crated when inside the vehicle.

In reality, it’s not like they are going to know if your pet remains created the entire time you are driving with them but they could require you to initially show that your pet has a crate they can fit into at the beginning of the rental.

Be mindful of damage that the crate could cause to the interior of the vehicle. If it’s a large crate, it could scratch the ceiling of the car and the corners of some crates could scratch or cut the upholstery.

Note: Service animals should be exempted from this crate requirement.

Be mindful of the fur, accidents, and damage

Rental car companies are going to be looking at three things when you return your vehicle:

  • Fur (especially excessive amounts)
  • Evidence of accidents (stains and odors)
  • Damage (claw marks or sign of nibbling/biting), and

These are the three things that you need to be prepared to prevent or clean up when bringing your pet in a rental car.

Fur and remains of accidents can generally be removed with enough cleaning but when it comes to damage from scratching or chewing, you’ll need to take preventative measures for that.

Watch out for the cleaning fee

I think the biggest risk of bringing a pet in a rental car is that you could be hit with a cleaning fee or detailing fee. If you’re thinking you’ll just pay the $50 and be done with it, think again….

Cleaning fees for rental vehicles can be several hundred dollars!

For this reason, I would get photos of the interior of your rental car right before you turn it into the rental car company. Try to take photos in a well lit area or with bright lights so that you can see the detail.

This will help you defend your case if they try to charge you several hundred dollars for something minimal.

Related: Bringing a Dog to a Hotel: Essential Tips for a Good Stay

Tips for bringing your dog or other pets in your rental car

Bring cleaning supplies with you

It’s always good to have cleaning supplies with you to help you prevent stains and odors from pet accidents. A lot of people have success with vinegar and water along with other items like baking soda.

Make sure that you go above and beyond to get any odor out because if the rental car company gets even a light whiff of an odor, they could hit you with the cleaning fee.

Dealing with fur

If you have a dog that sheds like our corgi does then you know just how much fur can quickly collect in your vehicle. You can take some steps to prevent this from happening, though.

Seat covers are fantastic but not always practical when you are renting a car. But if you have a blanket, you can lay that over the entire seat which not only helps make it easier to clean up the fur, but it can also prevent damage to the seat.

Another pro tip is to groom or brush your pets ahead of time to reduce the fur.

Also, consider using a lint roller or dryer sheet to collect the pet hair every day of your travels so that you don’t allow the fur to build up to a ridiculous level by the end of your rental.

But if you find yourself still trying to get rid of dog fur, here are several techniques for doing that.

Don’t give them free reign

It can be really tempting on road trips to allow your pets to roam around the vehicle, from the backseat, to the front seat, and everywhere in between.

But it will be much easier to clean if you can limit the movement of your pet like a single seat or the cargo area.

Know your pet

Some rental companies are clear that your pet needs to be housetrained and if you have a pet that you think might be problematic and potentially could tear up seats, chew up a seatbelt, etc., then you should reconsider bringing them.

Or, if you do bring them, that is the type of pet that you want to make sure remains inside of a crate.

Do a final vacuum clean

Before you return your vehicle be sure to take the vehicle by a car wash so that you can vacuum the interior. Focus a lot on the cracks and crevices and underneath mats and seats.

Related: What Are the Rental Car Grace Periods?

Policies for different rental car companies

Below are some of the general pet policies published by the different rental car companies. Keep in mind that you always need to verify pets are allowed with the specific location you are renting from.


Alamo’s policy states that pets are allowed but that customers need to keep the pets crated. They also state that the car must be returned in clean condition and free of pet hair to avoid cleaning/detailing fees.


Avis’ policy allows for pets in your rental car but they recommend that you confirm that pets are allowed before you arrive. They reiterate that you need to return the rental car in good condition and free of pet hair and smells so that you can avoid cleaning fee which can be up to $450!


Budget’s policy states “housebroken” pets are allowed with no extra fee. However they make clear that you will be responsible for “any damage caused by animals, or any special cleaning required as a result of shedding or accidents.”


Enterprise’s policy states that they allow pets in rental vehicles. Like some other rental car companies, they state that pets need to remain crated. And in order to avoid cleaning or detail fees, the car needs to be returned in clean condition without any pet hair.


National’s policy states that they will allow pets and vehicles but that the pets should be crated. The vehicle also must be returned in clean condition and free of pet hair in order to avoid additional cleaning fees.


Silvercar’s policy makes clear that pets “must travel in an airline-approved pet carrier at all times.” They also make note that pet owners will incur charges for any damage caused by “animals/pet carriers/harnesses, or any special cleaning required as a result of shedding or accidents.”


Sixt’s policy permits pets in rental vehicles. They require customers to return the vehicle and clean condition, free of pet hair to avoid cleaning and detailing fees.

One interesting thing about their policy is that they waive the special cleaning fee for a service animal.


Thrifty’s policy states that pets are allowed but rental vehicles “must be returned without damage and in clean condition to avoid a cleaning fee.”

They remind customers that “Excessive pet hair, soiling or damage caused by animals will results in an extra cleaning charge.”

I like that Thrifty clarifies excessive pet hair is a problem because it makes it clear that if you have just a couple of strands of fur that you missed, that’s not going to incur you an extra fee.

Thrifty is also one of the few rental car companies that make it easy to find the cleaning fee which the state ranges from $50-$250 depending on the amount of time needed to clean the vehicle and whether or not that requires a vehicle to be removed from service temporarily.


Turo’s policy allows pets but you need to choose a vehicle that is pet friendly. You could be charged a cleaning violation fee if you transport a pet in a non-pet friendly vehicle or if you return the car with a significant amount of animal hair or other issues that “could have only been caused by irresponsible or abusive behavior.”

Final word

Unlike airlines, rental car companies don’t typically charge a pet fee for transporting your pet in the vehicle. However, they are rather strict when it comes to the condition of the vehicle when you return it from your travels.

To avoid getting charged potentially hundreds of dollars, you should go above and beyond to remove all of the fur possible, any odors or signs of accidents, and you should always do your best to prevent damage to the vehicle.

What Are the Rental Car Grace Periods? (Late Drop-Offs)

Sometimes whenever you’re renting a vehicle you have to cut things a little close.

But just how close can you cut it when returning a rental car? And what will the penalties be if you are a little bit late dropping off your vehicle?

Below, we will take a look at the rental car grace periods when returning your vehicle. You’ll see exactly what the cut-off times are and how you might be penalized if you exceed them.

What are the rental car grace periods?

Many rental car companies will allow you to return your vehicle up to 29 or 30 minutes late without any additional charge. Some rental companies even extend this to up to one hour late!

After that, you could be charged an hourly rate and if you are a few hours late you could be charged an entire additional day.

Keep reading below for an overview of how the grace periods work and the specific policies for some of the major rental car companies.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

How rental car grace period return policies usually work

The 24 hour clock for each day of your rental typically begins at your scheduled pick up time.

So if you scheduled your pick up time at 10 AM but you don’t arrive to the rental car station until 10:30 AM, the 24 hour clock will probably still start at 10 AM.

Tip: If something comes up and you will be really late, you can notify the rental car company and sometimes make a last-minute adjustment to your pick up time so that your 24 hour clock does not start until later.

The first grace threshold that many rental car companies have of 29 or 30 minutes allows you to return your vehicle late without any additional charges.

There’s usually a no questions asked policy for this. For example, you don’t have to explain that a bad traffic jam kept you late.

If you return the vehicle after that initial grace period, you will probably get charged by the hour until you meet a second threshold.

The hourly rate will depend on the rental car company but you could be looking at some thing like 1/5 of the rental rate. (Keep in mind that some rental car companies don’t charge by the hour and will simply add a full additional day to your charges if you exceed the grace period.)

This second threshold where hourly charges will no longer apply could be anywhere from 90 minutes to a few hours after your scheduled drop off time. If you exceed this threshold then you may be charged an entire day rate as if you rented the car for an additional day.

Keep in mind that sometimes the grace period may not apply to additional add-ons for your rental such as protections and extra equipment.

So the rental car company may charge you a full day charge for your add-ons even if you are able to take advantage of grace periods or hourly rates.

In addition to that, you could also get hit with a daily late fee such as $10 per day. (Taxes are usually added to all of these additional fees as well.)

And if you had mileage rates those rates could increase if you are dropping off late.

Related: Unlimited Miles For Rental Cars? Here’s Which Companies Offer No Limits 

If you decided to return your rental car “after hours” such as when the rental car station or building is closed then your rental will not be checked out until the next business day.

It’s worth noting that you are still responsible for the rental car until that business opens up and checks out your vehicle.

So for example if you were to leave the car overnight at a rental car building and something happened to the vehicle overnight, you would be responsible for it.

Be aware that the policies above are just how things are supposed to work on paper. In the real world, you might be able to talk to your way out of late fees based on your specific situation.

Related: Rental Car Off-Roading Guide (Policies Explained)

rental car shuttle bus

Rental car grace period policies

Below are the rental car grace periods for various major rental car companies.

These were all accurate at the date of publishing but if you see something that has changed let us know and we can update the article.

Also keep in mind that these are the general policies for the rental car companies. Always verify what your rental car agreement states because that will be the binding language in the event you arrive late.


Ace’s policy allows for a 59 minute grace period. After that, they don’t have a second hourly threshold and will charge you a full day.

So while the grace time is a little bit longer the penalty for exceeding that one hour timeframe is stricter than other rental car companies.


Alamo’s policy “generally” allows for a 29 minute grace period for daily rentals. 

Pay close attention to the word “generally” because some rental car agreements may not abide by this 29 minute grace period.

After that, hourly charges will apply up to a threshold of two hours after your return time. If you return the vehicle two hours or more from the time it was rented on the subsequent day, they will charge you for a full additional rental day.


Avis’ policy states that most of the rental car agreements are based on a 24 hour rate. If you return your car beyond that 24 hour timeframe you will be charged an additional hourly rate.

This makes it sound like Avis does not have a grace period, although you may want to check your rental agreements because I’m pretty sure that many of them will have a grace period. Remember, it comes down to the terms of your specific rental agreement!

Related: Guide to Rental Car Age Requirements

Avis rental car station


Budget’s policy states there is a 29 minute grace period for returns. After that, an hourly rate will apply until you meet the second threshold of being 90 minutes late.

After that, you could be charged a full day. Also, if you return the vehicle seven hours late or more, and you did not extend your rental car agreement, you could be charged with an additional $10 a day late fee.

They also state that “There is no grace period for rental fees, surcharges and optional equipment or protections charges. Full-day late charges will apply for these items.”


Enterprise’s policy states “there is generally a 29 minute grace period for daily rentals.” Once again, make sure you note the use of the word generally since that does not guarantee a grace period for all rentals.

After 29 minutes, Enterprise will charge you an hourly rate which can be found on your rental contract. If you return the vehicle 2 1/2 hours or more from the time it was rented on the subsequent day, they will charge you for a full day.


Fox’s policy states that a rental day is defined as a 24 hour time period beginning with the date/time indicated on the rental agreement (contract) at the time of rental.

Fox provides a 59 minute grace period for returns. If you exceed that timeframe then hourly charges may apply. And if you are three hours or more late, a full day charge could apply.


Hertz’s policy states that they allow a 59 minutes grace period.

After that, Hertz will hit you with an hourly fee which will be charged at 1/5 of the daily rate. But that will only trigger up to a maximum of five hours. After you are five hours late, you will have to pay a full day rate.


National’s policy states there is “generally” a 29 minute grace period for daily rentals.

After that, hourly charges will apply until you are 2 1/2 hours late. After 2 1/2 hours or more from the time it was rented on a subsequent day, they will charge you the additional full day rental.


Silvercar’s policy offers one of the better grace periods of 59 minutes. Beyond that timeframe, the amount you will be charged will depend on how late you are based on the following rates:

  • 60 – 119 minutes = 25% of the daily rate
  • 120 – 179 minutes = 50% of the daily rate
  • 180 – 239 minutes = 75% of the daily rate
  • 240 minutes or more = 100% of the daily rate.


Sixt’s policy states that they have a 30-minute grace period. However, they don’t publish different hourly rate thresholds. Instead, it looks like if you or over the grace period or perhaps over one hour late, you could be charged an additional full day.


Thrifty’s policy states that “late returns beyond 30 minute grace period may be subject to extra hour and/or extra day charges, in addition to any other rental charges.”

After that, you could be charged an hourly rate until the vehicle is returned. They also know that if mileage rates are applicable those could increase if you return the car more than 24 hours after the scheduled return time.


Turo’s policy allows for a grace period of up to 29 minutes where you will not be charged for a late drop off.

If you are between 30 minutes and one hour and 59 minutes late, you will be charged 1/2 the average daily trip price plus a $50 improper return fee at Turo’s discretion.

If you are two hours or more late, you may have to pay an average daily trip price for one day, a $20 late return fee, and the $50 improper return fee.

Related: Do Chase Sapphire Credit Cards Cover Turo Car Rentals?

Final word

Travel can be unpredictable and while I would always suggest trying to return your vehicle at least one hour prior to the rental cut off time, it’s good to know that you can have a grace period of up to 30 minutes or even one hour in some cases.

It’s also valuable to know that if you exceed these grace periods that you could be charged an hourly rate and eventually an additional full day.

Hertz President’s Circle (Benefits & Status Matches) [2022]

Hertz President’s Circle is an elite status offered by Hertz that offers a number of benefits for your travels with rental cars.

This article will walk you through the different benefits you can expect to receive from President’s Circle and I’ll also talk about how to do a status match to President’s Circle.

What is the Hertz President’s Circle?

The Hertz President’s Circle is the top-tier elite status offered by the Hertz Gold Plus Rewards program that offers special perks like confirmed one-car-class upgrade, designated parking stalls, and a 50% bonus on Gold Plus Rewards points on all qualified car rentals.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

How do you achieve Hertz President’s Circle?

In order to be granted Hertz President’s Circle, you need to meet one of the following within a specified 12-month period:

  • Complete 15 or more rentals
  • Spend $3,000 or more on rentals

These are the lowered requirements due to Covid.

The normal requirements are:

  • Complete 20 or more rentals
  • Spend $4,000 or more on rentals

Status challenges

It’s possible to earn Hertz President’s Circle with a status challenge.

In fact, at one point in the past, Hertz was allowing people to sign up and instantly earn Hertz President’s Circle.

But more likely, you’ll be trying to achieve President’s Circle with a match from one of the major car rental companies like National, Enterprise, or Avis.

In the past, people have been able to be matched to President’s Circle by having National Executive Elite or Enterprise Platinum. This is really nice for people who have the Amex Platinum and receive Executive status with National (along with other benefits).

In order to apply for a status match you’ll need to do the following:

Simply enroll in the Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Program then provide proof of your identity and proof of status with other car rental companies via email to [email protected].

Proof of Identity

  • First and last name as it appears on your Hertz account
  • Address as it appears on your Hertz account
  • Phone number
  • Email address

Proof of Status with other car rental companies (Please provide one)

  • Monthly statement indicating membership status
  • Copy of a credentials letter (membership kit)
  • Copy of a welcome letter

Airline status

You may also qualify for Hertz President’s Circle if you hold platinum or diamond elite status with Delta.

Hertz rental station

What are the benefits of Hertz President’s Circle?

  • Expedited Pick-up
  • Confirmed vehicle one-car-class upgrade
  • Hertz Ultimate Choice
  • 50% bonus on Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Points
  • Valet terminal drive-back service that you can get at participating locations up to four times a year as a President’s Circle member.

Expedited Pick-up

As a President’s Circle member you’ll get expedited pick-up at over 1,000 locations worldwide. Plus, at over 50 airports you won’t have to stop at the counter.

Confirmed vehicle availability with a minimum 48 hour advance reservation

This benefit should allow you to have a confirmed vehicle ready for you so long as you make your reservation at least 48 hours in advance. There are some reports of this benefit not always being honored so you might not always be guaranteed a vehicle.

2022 Update: this benefit no longer shows up on the website.

Confirmed vehicle one-car-class upgrade

With Hertz President’s Circle, you stand a good shot at being upgraded when making your reservation at all participating locations in the U.S., Canada and select European locations.

Just note that the maximum upgrade is to a full-size class vehicle when you’ve reserved a compact vehicle. If you’re not familiar with the different classes of vehicle you can check out this Flyertalk thread right here.

You’ll be able to see the cars which fall into which classes.

For your reference, I’ve copied over an unofficial Flyertalk list of vehicles between compact and full size — these are the vehicles that you might be get upgraded to when you book a compact car.

Compact 2 or 4 Door (B, CCAR)

Nissan Versa B, YB CCAR (36 mpg; includes sedans and Note hatchbacks)
Chevrolet Sonic YB CCAR
Fiat 500L YB CCAR (Spotted at SLC and SFO)
Ford Fiesta B, YB CCAR (38 mpg)
Ford Focus B, YB CCAR (Includes sedan and hatchback models; 38 mpg)
Honda Fit YB CCAR
Hyundai Accent B CCAR (Formerly ECAR)
Kia Rio B CCAR
Mazda2 B CCAR
Mini Cooper YB CCAR
Nissan Juke YB CCAR
Toyota Yaris B, YB CCAR (4-door and 5-door models)
Volkswagen Golf YB CCAR (Includes 2.5L gas and TDI diesel models)

Intermediate 2 or 4 Door (C, ICAR)

Chevrolet Cruze 5-Door Hatchback, C ICAR
Kia Soul C ICAR
Kia Forte C ICAR
Hyundai Elantra C ICAR
Mazda3 C ICAR
Honda Civic C, YC ICAR (2-door models tagged C; 4-door models tagged YC)
Nissan Sentra C, YC ICAR
Toyota Corolla C, YC ICAR (33 mpg)
Mazda5 YC ICAR
Subaru Impreza YC ICAR (Includes sedan and hatchback models)
Volkswagen Jetta YC ICAR (Includes gasoline and TDI diesel models)
Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen YC ICAR

Standard 2 Door (D4, SCAR)

Chevrolet Camaro Coupe D SCAR (I-4 Turbo)
Dodge Challenger D SCAR (V6 SXT)
Ford Mustang D SCAR (V6 Premium trim; hard-top)

Standard 4 Door Sedan (D, SCAR)

Volkswagen Jetta D SCAR(24 mpg; formerly ICAR, includes gasoline and TDI diesel models)
Chevrolet Cruze SCAR (2017 model year and newer; older years are C ICAR)

Full Size 4 Door (F, FCAR/FDAR/FXAR)

Chevrolet Malibu F, YF FCAR, FDAR (LS through LTZ trims available; 29 mpg)
Chrysler 200 F, YF FCAR, FDAR(30 mpg)
Ford Fusion F, F6,YF FCAR
Buick Verano YF FCAR
Dodge Charger F,F6, YF FCAR
Honda Accord YF FCAR
Hyundai Sonata F (Base Trim), YF FCAR
Kia Optima F FCAR
Mazda6 F FCAR
Nissan Altima F, F6 FCAR
Subaru Legacy Limited F, F6 FCAR
Toyota Camry F, F6 FCAR
Volkswagen Passat F, F6 FCAR

Hertz Ultimate Choice

Ultimate Choice is a benefit open to any member of the Hertz Gold Plus Rewards program.

It’s a special lot at select locations where you can select cars from based on your status (President’s Circle, Five Star, or Gold).

To be eligible for this you need to book anything other than an Economy (A), Compact (B), or Manager’s Special (EXAR) vehicle.

50% bonus on Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Points

You will automatically receive a 50% bonus on your earnings which means you will be earning 1.5 points per dollar spent on Hertz rentals.

A standard reward starts at 950 points for one day, so that means that you would have to spend $633 to qualify for the cheapest free rental.

Hertz Award Chart

Valet terminal drive-back service

This is an interesting perk because there are conflicting data points on who gets to use it and whether or not the rental car agents are even aware of this perk at times.

Some report that you can use this up to four times per year but that there are requirements for getting the service. For example, you may be offered it after your 15th, 20th and 40th rentals. This also might be restricted to certain airports.

So I would just be on the lookout after I make my 15th car rental to see if I receive any emails from Hertz about this benefit. It also would not hurt to inquire with the agents when you are picking up your rental car to see if you are eligible.

Tip: Use WalletFlo for all your credit card needs. It’s free and will help you optimize your rewards and savings!

Other Hertz status tiers

Hertz President’s Circle is the top-tier elite status and right below that is Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Five Star.

Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Five Star

Meet one of the following within the specified 12-month period: Complete 10 rentals
or spend $2,000 on rentals.

Benefits include:

  • One-car-class upgrades (subject to availability)
  • 10% bonus on Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Points (earn 1.25 points for every $1)
  • Plus, all Gold member benefits

Hertz Gold

There is no criteria for this status and anybody can enroll for free at

Benefits include:

  • Designated Gold Plus Rewards parking stalls.
  • Free additional driver (only spouse or domestic partner)
  • Earn Gold Plus Rewards points on all qualified car rentals

Hertz cancellation policy

If you need a refresher on how the cancellation policy works for both Pay Now and Pay Later bookings, you can read more about that here.

Final word

Hertz President’s Circle can provide you with some worthwhile benefits like upgrades and confirmed reservations when you need them. I don’t think this is an elite status I would go out of my way to obtain, but I would definitely consider jumping on a status match when the time was right.

Do Chase Sapphire Credit Cards Cover Turo Car Rentals? [2022]

Turo is turning out to be one of the most convenient and (sometimes) cost efficient ways to go about renting a car when traveling.

For those of us who often rely on rental coverage from a Chase Sapphire credit card, a big question looms of whether or not you can get coverage with a Turo rental.

In this article, I’ll take a look at whether or not you can get rental car coverage with a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve. I’ll also present you with some alternative options including pricing options that you might have to go with when booking with Turo.

Do Chase Sapphire Credit Cards cover Turo rentals?

No, you most likely will NOT get rental car coverage with Chase Sapphire credit cards because Turo is not considered (by Chase) to be a rental agency and instead is viewed as a peer to peer car service.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

Chase Sapphire Preferred

First, let’s take a look at the Chase Sapphire Preferred benefits.

The Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver benefit provides reimbursement for damages caused by theft or collision up to the Actual Cash Value of most rented cars.

It’s one of the most significant credit card benefits because it offers primary coverage which can allow you to bypass involving your car insurance and save you money when renting cars.

The Sapphire Preferred has quite a few exclusions where you can’t get coverage. It includes instances like damage caused by going off road and renting high-end luxury vehicles (Bentley, Corvette, Ferrari, Jaguar, Lamborghini, etc.).

(Some people use Turo to rent these fancy cars so it’s something to be aware of.)

But one of the exclusions explicitly mentioned is “Vehicles that are not rented from a Rental Agency.”

The terms go on to define a rental agency as:

a commercial rental company licensed under the laws of the applicable jurisdiction and whose primary business is renting automobiles.

Turo is usually/always not considered a rental agency so this means that your coverage would not apply when using the Chase Sapphire Preferred to book with Turo. (This was also confirmed by a representative that I later spoke with.) So things are pretty clear cut with the Chase Sapphire Preferred but what about the Reserve?

Related: Using Turo in Hawaii (Prices & Tips)

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Now, let’s take a look at the Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits.

A lot of people don’t know this but the terms for primary rental car coverage for the Chase Sapphire Reserve are a little bit different from the Sapphire Preferred. And this makes sense because it’s a more premium card.

Unlike the Sapphire Preferred which refers to the actual cash value of vehicles and excludes high-end vehicles, the Reserve states that it will reimburse you for up to $75,000 for most vehicles but does have exclusions for vehicles like:

  • antique automobiles; cargo vans; vehicles that have an open cargo bed; trucks; motorcycles, mopeds, and motorbikes; limousines; and recreational vehicles.

Although the terms did not always have this language, they now show exclusions for “Vehicles that are not rented from a Rental Agency.”

The terms also exclude “Leases and mini leases” and so it makes me wonder if a Turo agreement could be considered a “mini lease” although that does not seem likely.

And just to make sure, I called the benefit services administrator to get clarification and they made it very clear to me that Turo rentals would not be covered by the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Preferred.

They stated that in order to get coverage you would have to rent from a commercially licensed rental car agency. They also mentioned that any peer-to-peer rentals (which is exactly what Turo reportedly is) would not allow for coverage.

While all of that makes sense, I find it really curious that the Sapphire Reserve terms do not make more of an effort to specifically talk about peer to peer rentals but oh well.

It’s worth noting that some courts have found that Turo is a rental car company:

In finding that Turo is a rental car company, the court noted the similarities with Turo’s model compared to incumbent car rental companies: Turo’s internet-based platform allows customers to rent specific passenger vehicles; Turo receives a percentage of the proceeds from each rental transaction; Turo sells insurance

Such findings could have consequences for rental car coverage in the future but for now it doesn’t seem to be enough to get you coverage with your Sapphire cards.


Just because you can’t get coverage with a Chase card, that does not mean that you cannot get coverage for your Turo rental.

First, you should consider contacting your car insurance provider and inquire with him about your policy and how it applies to peer to peer rentals.

In our case, we had USAA and they verified with us that we would have coverage in the event of some sort of incident.

You can also look into buying coverage via Turo which can increase your rental cost anywhere from $20+ a day to $70. 

They offer three different plans (Minimum, Standard or Premier) and you can see the pricing details below. (note that these are subject to change).

You can also choose to decline the insurance all together.

Premier plan 

  • Cost is 65% to 100% of the trip price; minimum charge of $14/day.

Standard plan

  • Cost is 40% of the trip price; minimum charge of $12/day.

Minimum plan

  • Cost is 18% of the trip price when the trip price is more than $250; minimum charge of $10/day.
  • Cost is 25% of the trip price when the trip price is less than $250; minimum charge of $10/day.

Final word

While the Sapphire Reserve and the Sapphire Preferred provide great rental car coverage; unfortunately, you cannot get coverage for a rental with Turo.

That is because Turo would not be considered a commercially licensed rental car agency and instead it would be classified under a peer to peer car service.

It’s possible that something might change down the line but for now you’ll need to consider the alternative options for coverage.

Rental Car Off-Roading Guide (Policies Explained) [2022]

Sometimes it can be very tempting to push the limits in your rental vehicle especially when you’re renting some type of 4X4 SUV such as a Jeep or a Toyota Forerunner.

Yet, trying to push the limits by off-roading can get you into some serious trouble when it comes to what you are liable for.

In this article, I will give you some insight and tips on how to handle rental cars if you want to go off-roading. You’ll know exactly what to expect and some of the challenges that may arise.

Damage to the vehicle

When you rent a vehicle there are different types of damage that you could cause.

Generally, you could cause damage to the rental vehicle, to someone else (their person or property), to yourself, or some terrible combination of all of those.

Liability coverage is what deals with damage or injuries to others and yourself. It’s usually handled through your car insurance company although you can also sign up for that when you rent a car.

Collision damage waiver is the protection that gets you off the hook for damage to your rental vehicle and when off-roading that is typically your concern.

So in this article we are primarily focused on the potential liability you might have for the damage to the rental vehicle.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

Off roading in Sedona, AZ

What actually counts as “off-roading?”

In the simplest sense, someone might say that off-roading is taking your vehicle off the main paved roads.

But that’s not really that helpful.

If you have ever traveled to rural areas you know that there are plenty of unpaved roads that are still decent quality roads that might even require you to drive on them to get to a “non off-roading” destination.

So a more detailed definition may be needed.

Wikipedia states “Off-roading is the activity of driving or riding a vehicle on unsurfaced roads or tracks, made of materials such as sand, gravel, riverbeds, mud, snow, rocks, and other natural terrain.”

The definition is a little bit more helpful because it hits on the road being unsurfaced.  

But an unsurfaced road is any road that does not have surface treatment, which again could include relatively easy to navigate dirt or gravel roads.

The Wiki definition does offer some specifics about roads made of gravel, river beds, mud, and rocks and that gets closer to what most people would consider to be off-roading: uneven or tough terrain.

If you’re dealing with lots of uneven terrain, rocks, dips, mounds, puddles, and big potholes, that’s usually the hallmark of off-roading.

While these definitions on paper do provide some guidance ultimately I think it is up to the “eye test.”

It’s one of those things that you just “know it when you see it.”

You can ask yourself before driving into a certain area, “If I got stuck on this road, would this pass the eye test for a rental car company?”

If you’re unsure, chances are it does not pass that test.

Off roading in Jeep

How does the rental car company know you’ve been off-roading?

The context of when something goes wrong may also dictate if your vehicle is considered to be in the act of off-roading.

For example, if you have to call a rental car tow company to come get your rental car and it is covered in mud then that is probably going to be a strong indicator that you were off-roading when you caused damage to your vehicle.

That’s not to say that you can’t turn in the rental car without some mud on it but if it is damaged and covered in mud, that is where you run into the issue.

Now that you have a little bit more insight into what might be considered off-roading, let’s take a look at the protection that you might be able to get when going off road.

Credit card collision damage waiver

A good travel credit cards to provide you with collision damage waiver protection. This is why I have turned down collision damage protection from rental cars companies over the past few years.

I book pretty much every rental with the Chase Sapphire Reserve which comes with primary rental car coverage up to a high limit.

However, if you take a look at the terms and conditions you will see that off-roading becomes an issue.

First, a lot of times the coverage from the credit card will be invalidated if you violate the terms of your rental agreement.

For example, the Sapphire Reserve states you lose coverage with “Any violation of the auto rental agreement.”

As you’ll see below, several rental agreements state off-roading is a violation.

The Sapphire Reserve terms also specifically mention off-roading and says excluded is “Loss due to off-road operation of the rental vehicle.”

So while I am a big proponent of obtaining rental car coverage with a credit card, damage from off-roading will still likely be excluded.

Crossing water in Jeep

Rental agreements

Below, we’ve rounded up the policies from the major rental car companies in the US. You can see what these rental car say about off-roading verbatim. Hint: it’s not very favorable.

Just note that these policies can change and you should always refer to your specific rental car agreement for the exact policy that applies in your scenario.


Alamo states:

“a. Renter agrees to the following limits on use:

(10) Vehicle shall not be driven on an unpaved road or off-road.”


“The following shall invalidate Damage Waiver: if Vehicle is damaged when used or driven: […] to tow or push anything; outside the states authorized; […] in a wanton or reckless manner or if Vehicle is deliberately damaged; on an unpaved road or off road…”

Notice how Enterprise mentions “unpaved roads.”


Here are some terms from Hertz

“You may not use the vehicle:

Off road or on roads unsuitable for the vehicle (including racetracks).

If you do not comply with these Rental Restrictions:

– You will be responsible for any damage, losses and expenses we suffer as a result.

– You may lose the benefit of any insurance or waivers of liability you have taken.

– We may terminate the Rental Agreement and take the vehicle back at any time at your expense.”

The Hertz definition is interesting because it mentions unsuitable roads for the vehicle. So if you rented a 4X4 Jeep, a bumpy, unpaved road would not be unsuitable for a vehicle like that but it might be unsuitable for a smaller vehicle.


Here are some terms from Turo:

“Guests who engage in any Prohibited Uses with a vehicle booked through Turo, may face a penalty fee, suspension, and/or removal from the platform. If you’re the primary guest, it’ll lower your liability coverage to state minimum limits or nullify coverage where allowable by applicable state law. If the host has encouraged you to engage in a Prohibited Use, we may similarly reduce their coverage. If you engage in any Prohibited Uses, it will also eliminate any coverage for any claims related to physical damage.

  • other than on paved roads (whether “off-roading,” driving on unimproved roads or parking areas,” or otherwise).”

The Turo definition mentions unimproved roads which is another way of describing roads with lots of potholes and bumpy areas.


Here are some terms from Avis:


4) to be operated in a test, race or contest or on unpaved roads.”

Once again we see unpaved roads in the definition.


Here are some terms from Budget:


4) to be operated in a test, race or contest or on unpaved roads

This is the same definition used for Avis.


Here are some terms from Dollar:


In this definition, there’s a focus on off paved roads and roads which are not regularly maintained.


Here are some terms from Thrifty:

“The vehicle is driven in restricted areas, including airport service roads and associated areas, or on a road notified to you as prohibited by Thrifty or off-road (eg. on fire trails, tracks, fields or paddocks) (unless specified in writing by Thrifty).”


Here are some terms from National:

“When deciding whether or not to purchase LDW, Renter may wish to check with Renter’s insurance representative or credit card company to determine whether, in the event of damage to, or theft of, Vehicle, Renter has coverage or protection for such damage or theft and the amount of Renter’s deductible or out-of-pocket risk.

(10) on an unpaved road or off road;

a. if Vehicle is damaged when used or driven:

(10) on an unpaved road or off road;

The following shall invalidate LDW:

(9) towing or pushing anything or if operation of the vehicle is off road;

e. the damage or loss arises out of the use of the vehicle to carry persons
or property for hire, to push or tow anything, while engaged in a speed contest,
operating off road, or for driver’s training.”


Here are some terms from Sixt

“(e) arises out of the use of the Vehicle to carry persons or property
for hire, to push or tow anything, while engaged in a speed contest, operating
off road

(g) is caused by driving on unpaved roads

(iv) operation of the vehicle on an unpaved road if the damage or loss is
a direct result of the road or driving conditions

(7) is caused by driving on unpaved roads

(iii) use of the Vehicle to push or tow anything, or on an unpaved road if the damage or loss is a direct result of the road or driving conditions.”

Something to be aware of is that a lot of these companies include “towing” in the terms.


As you can tell, the rental agreements from all of the major car rental companies explicitly exclude off-roading or activities that would be considered off-roading.

It’s very clear that if you cause damage while off-roading you pretty much void your liability coverage and could be held personally responsible for the damage to the vehicle.

But there are some alternatives that you might want to think about.

In areas known for off-roading such as Moab, Utah or areas around Death Valley National Park, some places will rent to you knowing that you have the intention to go off-roading.

Some of these places may offer packages that cover you for punctured tires or chipped windshield but you still will likely be responsible for major damage to the vehicle.

For example, CliffHanger Jeep rental states:

While the Jeep is rented to you, it is basically your vehicle.  You will be responsible to pay for any damage that is done to the vehicle while in your possession.  We do offer a tire and glass coverage for $25.00 per day that will cover the repair/replacement of 1 tire, and any glass damage. If you take it slow and are careful there shouldn’t be any problems.

So while you might be responsible for the damage, at least you are not in violation of the rental agreement which might just make your life a little bit easier if things did go wrong.

Tips for avoiding damage

Go slow

The biggest tip I have is to just drive very slow when off-roading. It’s usually much safer to crawl along a rocky road than it is to try to gun it.

It might test your patience if you have to put in several miles but it is definitely going to be the safer route, especially when it comes to rental cars.

Reverse and plan

One of the biggest tips for off-roading is to use reverse as often as you need.

If you are not confident in the line you are taking then simply reverse a few feet, re-plan your move, and then proceed slowly.

Stay away from other cars

If you’re driving on a gravel path with a lot of tiny rocks, one of the worst things you can do is ride someone’s tail.

That’s because their vehicle will be spitting up rocks and you are just begging for your windshield to get cracked or something else to get dinged.

Try to keep as much distance between your vehicle and other vehicles as possible.

Test out water depth

If you’re dealing with spillways, water crossings, creeks, etc., you don’t always know how deep they are. This is especially true if the water is not clear and you just have to guesstimate.

When it comes to a rental car, that is not a good idea because if you did get into water too deep you would have to call the tow company out to that spot which would be a dead giveaway as to what you were up to.

Instead, get out of the vehicle and walk through the water crossing.

I carry a trekking pole with me so that I can poke around for hidden potholes beneath the water as well. It might slow you down a little bit but it will give you some confidence when driving through water.

Final word

Taking your rental vehicle off road is doable but you have to be aware of the consequences. Virtually every company is going to make you personally responsible if you’re caught damaging the vehicle while off-roading.

In some cases, there will be room for interpretation as to what counts as “off-roading” but it is probably best to play it safe when it comes to these rental car companies. They can be extremely difficult to deal with sometimes.

Unlimited Miles For Rental Cars? Here’s Which Companies Offer No Limits [2022]

Are you thinking about renting a car for an epic road trip but worried about limits on your mileage? You might be surprised to find out that rental car companies are a lot more flexible than you imagined when it comes to unlimited miles.

Our research team reviewed data points in various locations around the country for the major rental car companies to find out what the mileage limit policies were like. Keep reading below to find out what the results show and to see some real-life data points of mileage limits.

Do rental car companies offer unlimited miles?

Yes, many rental car companies will offer you unlimited miles for your rental but there are some exceptions for certain types of vehicles. Generally speaking, a standard rental will have unlimited miles but if you are trying to rent exotic vehicles or certain types of premium automobiles, you might be subject to mileage limits.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

What are the mileage limits like?

The mileage limits are going to vary based on the location and vehicle but often for exotic vehicles it will be limited to something like 200 or 300 miles.

If you go beyond the mileage limits then you will be subject to a charge that is based on your mileage. For example, you could be charged $.50 per mile for every mile that you went joyriding over the limit.

Sometimes these charges can be even higher and you might find yourself paying around one dollar per mile that you go above the limit, so things can get pretty pricey.

So exactly what type of vehicles qualify as exotic or premium?

Exotic vehicles, also referred to as “dream cars,” may include any of the following:

  • Jaguar F-TYPE R
  • Maserati GranTurismo
  • Mercedes-Benz S-Class
  • Porsche Boxster
  • Tesla Model S
  • Aston Martin Vantage
  • Audi A5 Coupe
  • Chevrolet Corvette

Basically if the vehicle is rare, expensive, or just fancy there is a good chance it will be considered an exotic vehicle.

Meanwhile, when you are talking about premium vehicles subject to mileage limits you are usually dealing with large SUVs. Sometimes only premium SUVs such as a Cadillac Escalade ESV, GMC Yukon Denali XL, Lincoln Navigator L, or Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class are included but other times the limitations may apply to standard SUVs.

One major exception to the unlimited mileage custom is when booking through Turo.

Turo is a marketplace that allows you to book vehicles owned by other people. It is sort of the Airbnb of rental cars. You can expect many users to set mileage limits on the rental vehicles on that platform for almost every rental but on occasion you will see an option for unlimited miles.

And this makes sense. Would you want a stranger running up thousands of miles on your vehicle?

We found that the mileage limits were actually higher than those set by rental car companies for exotic vehicles. So instead of a 200 mile limit you might see something like a 400 or 500 mile limit.

The other difference with Turo is that the charges per mile beyond the set limit are usually much lower than rental car companies. For example, you may only have to pay $.15 per mile versus $1 per mile.

So if you are thinking about booking a vehicle that will be subject to mileage limitations, you might want to seriously consider Turo.

Taking rental cars across state lines

In addition to a lack of mileage requirements, you can also usually travel to different states with your rental car. So if you are planning an epic road trip to the Southwest and hitting up states like Nevada, Arizona, and Utah, there may be no problem.

A few things to note though.

Some locations will impose limitations on interstate travel.

For example, if you are renting from Las Vegas you may only be able to visit neighboring states.

Also, note that some states like Hawaii may have rental car companies that restrict you from going from island to island. And if you are renting from a state like Alaska you might have to remain in the state.

The thing you need to be on the lookout for is drop off fees. If you are not doing a loop and plan on just doing a one-way trip there is a good chance you’ll get hit with a hefty drop off fee.

If you were planning to drive to Canada you probably will be allowed to do that but you should obviously check with your rental car company first. Sometimes certain types of vehicles won’t be allowed to travel into Canada such as exotic vehicles.

Related: Which Car Rental Companies Accept Cash or Debit Card Payments?

Now that you have an overview of how the mileage limits work, check out some of the data points below from different rental car companies and various locations in the United States.


New York, NY

  • Manhattan Greenwich Village: Unlimited miles included
  • New York JFK International Airport: Unlimited miles included
  • JFK International Airport Exotics: 200 miles included, over 200 miles @ $ 0.99 / Mile
  • Midtown Manhattan Times Square: Unlimited miles included

Austin, TX

  • Downtown Austin: Unlimited miles included
  • Austin-Bergstrom International Airport: Unlimited miles included
  • Austin Ben White & I-35: Unlimited miles included
  • Austin Exotics: 300 miles included, over 300 miles @ $ 0.50 / Mile

Nashville, TN

  • Downtown Nashville: Unlimited miles included except premium SUV
  • Nashville International Airport: Unlimited miles included
  • Nashville West End: Unlimited miles included except premium SUV

Related: Guide to Rental Car Age Requirements (Under 25 & 21)


Los Angeles, CA

  • Los Angeles International Airport: Unlimited miles included
  • Burbank Bob Hope Airport: Unlimited miles included
  • Long Beach Airport: Unlimited miles included
  • Anaheim Resort District: Unlimited miles included except elite vehicles, 200 included, over 200 miles @ $ 0.99 / Mile

Jacksonville, FL

  • Jacksonville International Airport: Unlimited miles included

Oklahoma City, OK

  • Oklahoma City Will Rogers Airport: Unlimited miles included


Chicago, IL

  • Chicago Loop W. LaSalle St.: Unlimited miles except full SUV, 500 miles, over 500 miles @ $ 0.25 / Mile
  • Chicago Midway International Airport: Unlimited miles included
  • Chicago O’Hare International Airport: Unlimited miles included

Fort Worth, TX

  • Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport: Unlimited miles included

Boston, MA

  • Downtown Boston: Unlimited miles included
  • Boston Logan International Airport: Unlimited miles included


Houston, TX

  • Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport: Unlimited miles included except dream cars, 150 miles, over 150 @ $ 0.75 / Mile
  • Houston Hobby Airport: Unlimited miles included
  • Houston – Galleria Houston: Unlimited miles included
  • Houston – Gulf Freeway: Unlimited miles included

Columbus, OH

  • John Glenn Columbus International Airport: Unlimited miles included
  • Columbus – Billingsley: Unlimited miles included
  • Columbus – Columbus West: Unlimited miles included
  • Columbus – Easton: Unlimited miles included

Portland, OR

  • Portland Oregon International Airport: Unlimited miles included
  • Portland – South East Stark: Unlimited miles included
  • Portland – Southwest Pine: Unlimited miles included


Phoenix, AZ

  • Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport: Unlimited miles included
  • Central Phoenix: Unlimited miles included except standard SUV 300 miles, over 300 @ $ 0.22 / Mile
  • Tempe: Unlimited miles included except standard SUV 300 miles, over 300 @ $ 0.22 / Mile
  • Pavilions at Talking Stick Shopping Ctr: Unlimited miles included except standard SUV 300 miles, over 300 @ $ 0.22 / Mile

Indianapolis, IN

  • Indianapolis Downtown: Unlimited miles included
  • Indianapolis Intl Airport: Unlimited miles included
  • Indianapolis – Keystone Avenue: Unlimited miles included except standard elite SUV 300 miles, over 300 @ $ 0.26 / Mile
  • East Indianapolis: Unlimited miles included except standard elite SUV 300 miles, over 300 @ $ 0.26

El Paso, TX

  • El Paso Intl Airport: Unlimited miles included
  • Desert Passage Center – East El Paso: Unlimited miles included except premium SUV 300 miles, over 300 @ $ 0.22 / Mile


Philadelphia, PA

  • Philadelphia Intl Airport: Unlimited miles included
  • Amtrak 30th St Train Station: Unlimited miles included
  • Northeast Philadelphia: Unlimited miles included

Albuquerque, NM

  • Albuquerque – Pan American Fwy: Unlimited miles included
  • Albuquerque Intl Sunport: Unlimited miles included
  • Fiesta Crossing Shopping Ctr: Unlimited miles included

Las Vegas, NV

  • Gold Key Shops Center Strip: Unlimited miles included
  • Mccarran Intl Airport: Unlimited miles included
  • Las Vegas Across From Orleans: Unlimited miles included


San Antonio, TX

  • San Antonio International Airport: Unlimited miles included

San Francisco, CA

  • Oakland International Airport: Unlimited miles included
  • San Francisco International Airport: Unlimited miles included

Detroit, MI

  • Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport: Unlimited miles included


San Diego, CA

  • San Diego International Airport: Unlimited miles included

Seattle, WA

  • Seattle Downtown: Unlimited miles included

Memphis, TN

  • Memphis International Airport: Unlimited miles included


Dallas, TX

  • Tesla Model S 2018: 400 miles included, $ 0.42 / Mile
  • Toyota Camry 2016: 400 miles included, $ 0.16 / Mile
  • Ford Mustang 2016: 500 miles included, $ 0.18 / Mile
  • Chevrolet Corvette 2017: 400 miles included, $ 0.80 / Mile

Denver, CO

  • Tesla Model X 2020: 400 miles include, $ 0.95 / Mile
  • Subaru Outback 2011: 500 miles included, $ 0.15 / Mile
  • BMW 3 Series 2013: Unlimited miles included
  • Jeep Wrangler 2016: 400 miles included, $ 0.37 / Mile

Lewisville, KY

  • Maserati Ghibli 2018: 400 miles included, $ 0.65 / Mile
  • Cadillac Escalade 2017: 400 miles included, $ 0.64 / Mile
  • Honda Accord 2018: 600 miles included, $ 0.15 / Mile
  • Ford F-150 2020: 400 miles included, $ 0.42 / Mile

Silver Car

San Jose, CA

  • Unlimited miles included

Highland Park, IL

  • Unlimited miles included

Charlotte, NC

  • Unlimited miles included

Final word

As you can tell by all of the data points that we found, it is extremely common for standard rental vehicles to have unlimited miles. The only time where you usually get hit with mileage limits is when you are renting an exotic vehicle or some type of large SUV. The other exception is when you are booking through some type of market place where users can set mileage limits.

Enterprise Rental Car Insurance Guide [2021]

If you are planning on renting a car from Enterprise you will likely have to make the decision of whether or not to accept rental car insurance and other protections provided by Enterprise.

Depending on the type of vehicle you are renting and on your location these protections may vary but typically you will have the choice to choose from for four or five different protections.

In this article, I will break down what these protections are and why you may choose to decline these protections.

What is Enterprise Rental Car Insurance?

Enterprise Rental Car Insurance contains a number of different protections that you can choose to purchase.

These include:

  • Damage waiver (DW)
  • Personal accident insurance (PAI)
  • Supplemental liability protection (SLP)
  • Roadside assistance protection (RAP)

Each protection will protect you from liability or loss in a different way so you’ll want to be familiar with the differences in protection before choosing to rent your vehicle.

Tip: Use WalletFlo for all your credit card needs. It’s free and will help you optimize your rewards and savings!

Damage waiver (DW)

Damage waiver (DW) also referred to as collision damage waiver (CDW) is what many people refer to as “rental car insurance.” It’s actually not insurance so a better term to describe it would be “rental car coverage.”

This coverage will protect you in the event of damage or theft to the vehicle.

The damage waiver will be optional and you can purchase it for an additional fee. This fee can vary dramatically based on your location and the type of vehicle.

You could be paying anywhere from $5 to $50 per day for it so it is vital that you understand how much you will be paying per day. (On average, I would expect to pay somewhere around $20 a day.)

Be on the lookout for restrictions in certain countries because you may find that coverage does not apply to places like Mexico.

Because of the additional expense involved with damage waiver I would highly recommend that you seek out a quality travel credit card that comes with collision damage waiver.

The go-to card for this benefit for a lot of people is the Chase Sapphire Preferred which provides primary rental car coverage.

Primary rental car coverage is very important because it means you will not have to file a claim with your auto insurance company.

The annual fee for the Chase Sapphire Preferred is only $95 so in many cases you can completely offset the annual fee just by using the collision damage waiver once or twice.

Tip: If using a card like that, be sure to decline the coverage from the rental car company or you could void your credit card coverage!

One last thing to note, your standard auto insurance policy may not cover you for all of the fees associated with an accident. For example, if you don’t rent through a partner or obtain CDW, USAA may not cover the following:

  • Loss of use of the vehicle, if damaged.
  • Decrease in the value of the vehicle due to any damage sustained.
  • Administrative costs.
  • The right to repair or salvage the damaged vehicle.

Personal accident insurance

Personal accident insurance (PAI) provides the renter and the renter’s passengers with accidental death, accident medical expenses, and ambulance expense benefits.

So this coverage extends beyond damage or theft vehicle and actually protects you in the event you or any of your passengers are physically injured.

Once again the price for this coverage can range but typically you will be paying somewhere between $5 and $13 per day.

If your insurance provider already offers this protection then you will not need to duplicate it and you should feel free to decline it.

For example, my auto insurance via USAA covers accidents while renting vehicles so it doesn’t make sense for me to accept the protection from Enterprise.

The best way to get assurance about your coverage is to call up your car insurance company and ask about how your policy applies to rental cars.

Even better, ask them to provide you with a document outlining your coverage so that you could have something on-hand.

Related: Enterprise Weekend Special Rental Car Promos: Worth It?

Supplemental liability protection (SLP)

Supplemental liability protection provides the renter and any of the authorized drivers with up to $300,000 of combined single limit coverage for third-party liability claims.

SLP is primary to any other coverage and will respond to third party accident claims that result from bodily injury, including death, and property damage that arise from the use or operation of vehicle

So to help you distinguish this from the protections above consider the following example.

Let’s say that you drive your rental car into a steel post and really damage the vehicle but you were not injured nor was anybody else. Collision damage waiver coverage will likely protect you and you will not be liable for damage to the vehicle from the steel post.

But let’s say that when you hit that post you injured your back and had to call an ambulance to take you to the hospital. If you signed up for the personal accident insurance you should get coverage for your accidental medical expenses and ambulance expenses.

Now let’s say that you knocked over that pole and it injured someone else and now they are suing you. Well, if you have supplemental liability protection then you will be covered up to $300,000 from the third-party liability claim.

The exact way that this protection is set up is that Enterprise covers you up to the applicable minimum responsibility limit and then excess coverage kicks in from Zurich American Insurance Company.

This coverage will typically cost you between $8 and $17 per day.

Be on the lookout for some of the same restrictions such as this policy not applying in countries like Mexico.

Once again, your rental car coverage may already provide you with his protection, so be sure to check to your terms.

Related: Enterprise Cancellation Policy (Coronavirus Update)

Roadside assistance protection (RAP)

Roadside assistance protection is meant to help you out in situations where you have common roadside incidents such as running out of gas, or getting locked out of your vehicle. Enterprise will allow you to waive financial responsibility for these instances.

Something to note about this benefit with Enterprise is that roadside assistance can be added to a rental ticket at any time.

So if you are in the middle of your rental period you can simply call and add it to your rental ticket but you will have to have the vehicle inspected before getting the coverage added.

Some credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve offer some really great roadside assistance. So once again if you choose the right travel credit card you can turn down these additional protections and save yourself some money.

Related: Which Car Rental Companies Accept Cash or Debit Card Payments?

Final word

These are all optional products that you can add in order to provide you with more protection as you hit the road in your rental car.

I personally never add these to my rental car tickets because I already have coverage for these needs from my car insurance policy and/or my travel credit cards.

This has allowed me to save hundreds of dollars in fees so I would recommend looking into the right credit cards so that you don’t have to worry about adding these on to your bill.

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