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  1. Default Confusing and lucrative car rentals....

    Hi folks,

    First time poster here. Still figuring out all the nooks and crannies of this website, but it's useful so far. :)

    Anyway, I am researching a trip for the USA which is 11 weeks of train and car travel fun!! Part of this trip involves a three week trip to get from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas (via Yellowstone, Wyoming, Colorado, Santa Fe and NPs in Utah, Arizona, Nevada). I am finding hugely variable car hire quotes on Can anybody give me a clue as to why and what the 'rules' around LDW charges are?

    These are results using exactly the same dates (3 weeks) and vehicle type (intermediate) but with different drop off locations and drivers residence. (PS, I am Australian).

    Australian resident - P/up Salt Lake City, D/off Las Vegas - $1129.85 (incl $100 one way fee) **This rental includes LDW and ALI and cannot be removed from rental**
    Australian resident - P/up Salt Lake City, D/off Salt Lake City - $1673.78 (Does not force LDW and ALI)
    US resident - P/up Salt Lake City, D/off Las Vegas - $1419.11 (incl $100 one way fee) (Does not force LDW and ALI)
    US resident - P/up Salt Lake City, D/off Salt Lake City - $3890.38 (Does not force LDW and ALI)

    On ALL of these rental costs I have added LDW (where not forced to).

    Can anybody tell me why it is cheaper for an Australian resident to book the car hire, and also why it forces me to take LDW and ALI?

    Hertz also forces me to take LDW but is more consisent in that it forces it on all bookings I request as an Australian resident:
    Australian resident - P/up Salt Lake City, D/off Las Vegas - $1106 (incl $100 one way fee)
    Australian resident - P/up Salt Lake City, D/off Salt Lake City - $1011

    I hope I'm not too confusing in my post, but I am quite confused!!

    Thank you, Kym. :)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Confusing alright!

    Hi, and Welcome to The Great American RoadTrip Forum.

    Your confusion is most understandable. I have only rented with Budget in the US. Where it asked nationality, I mostly found that Australian was cheaper than than US, though I have never asked why.

    What you might find useful is to modify your search for different locations in SLC, different days of the week, and even different times of the day. Often these affect the rate. A few months ago I rented in Northern California, and found that by going to a nearby town from where I was staying, I got the best rate.

    And yes, some franchises include compulsory insurance, others don't. Before you accept insurance, check with your car insurance company to see if they cover rental cars. The other thing you might like to check is your travel insurance. Often this will cover rental car insurance. In those cases they will require the relevant insurance policy to photo copy. You cannot drive a car without, what we call, third party insurance.

    When are you taking this trip?


  3. Default

    Hi Lifey. Thank you for responding. My car and travel insurance do not cover rental car insurance so I definitely have to pay for it. I am correct in thinking that the Loss Damage Waiver only covers damage to the rental vehicle and not to the property of others (including a vehicle/person I have an accident with)?

    Our trip will begin in September and by the time we get around to this part of the trip it will be late October. :)

  4. Default

    Just looking around now and noticed that Hertz charges $100 for a one way drop in Vegas, and $300 for a one way drop in San Fran!! Interesting...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    One-way drop charges are often based on the laws of supply and demand. San Francisco may have a LOT of one-way drop-offs, and therefore the company has to spend more to get them back to their place of origin. Vegas doesn't have so many.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Supply, Demand, and Other Vagaries

    Many, if not most, costs associated with travel are subject to wild price fluctuations as the providers try to get the most out of their products and services. If you think car hire/rental fees are strange, consider the cost of a coach ticket on a plane which can vary by factors of 3, 4, 5 or more on the same flight. This is because travel providers know, for example, that they can charge top dollar to business travelers who need a particular flight at the last minute and don't have to pay for it out of their own pocket, but must offer substantial discounts to get the casual flier especially on red-eyes, Saturday evenings, and other off-peak times. The same holds true for cars. As Lifey and Donna have pointed out, costs vary from city to city, from firm to firm, from franchisee to franchisee, even from minute to minute.

    What you should do then is just what you are doing. Shop judiciously and take advantage of any flexibility you have and categories you might fall in to. Being Australian is one such category. You could be getting a better rate simply because the rental company's experience is that foreigners (or Australians in particular) put fewer miles on their cars than Americans. I know that many companies have started to charge more for a 'local' rental - a car rented to someone who lives in the same city - because these tend to be used for long-haul trips in lieu of the renter's own car. It's the same with one-way fees. They will depend on whatever the franchise's experience has been with getting their cars (the cars are owned by the franchise, not the national company) back from specific cities.

    Also, be aware that there are other sources of insurance than just your own auto policy. As noted, check any travel insurance you may have. Check with any motor club, such as AAC, that you may belong to as they may have an insurance scheme which covers you when you rent. Also check with you credit card companies as they, too, will often provide insurance coverage if you charge the rental to them. Only as a last resort, and if it still provides the overall cheapest cost, should you buy short-term insurance from a rental car company.

    One last advantage you have is that you might not need to pick up your car at the airport. Such rental locations typically have to charge heavy taxes and other fees levied by local governments to try to get their revenue from 'outsiders' rather than their own constituents. Be sure to check the prices that you can get from off-airport locations in the same city. Often these are at car dealerships or other such sites, and very, very often the difference in price is well worth the cost of the cab fare to get to them from the airport.


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