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.”
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.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.