14% Surcharge for car rental from Airport

Important tip: don't start your car rental from an Airport This might be common knowledge, but I didn't realize how much more expensive it was to pick a rental car up at the airport. Live and learn :)

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
616 posts

It's a type of facility fee for airport upkeep, just like any other "user fee"...similar to the fees on a flight (landing fees, airline segment fees, etc except those go to the FAA). Is 14% worth the convenience of picking up the car right after a flight with no added travel time? To some, yes..to others, no. Sometimes, in spite of the premium, it's still worth to rent at an airport if there is adequate competition among different agencies and a large supply of cars.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7954 posts

The alternate important tip: 1. It varies by airport. 2. Some train stations have the same surcharge. 3. If you rent a twenty-five dollar a day car for two weeks, the surcharge is fifty bucks or three-fifty a day. a. How much does it cost you to get to the alternate rental place. b. How much is your time worth on vacation. A three hundred dollar a day budget is about twenty bucks per waking hour. c. What else have you blown three or four bucks a day on? 4. How much longer does it take to get somewhere from the middle of a city rather than an airport way out of town.

Posted by Keith
Los Angeles, CA
7 posts

Gosh. I apologize. You feel very strongly about this. I was trying to give back a little to the community, but I will delete the post if possible. You're right.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7954 posts

Don't delete. There's two opinions to everything. You could skew my numbers as fast as I skewed yours.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7954 posts

Watch. Hey, Ed, you stupid butt head. Look at this: 1. Go straight to town, rent the car away from a train station when you're done. There's no surcharge and you save several days of rental fees.. 2. If I rented it at the airport and drove into the city, I'd have to cough up twenty-five bucks a day in parking fees. 3. I only want the car for three days, so it's going to cost me fifty bucks a day and the surcharge will be a hell of a lot higher per day, in fact, about the cost of a pretty good supper. See?

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
5444 posts

It depends on the airport. On our last trip to California, we saved $50 A DAY on our 3-day car rental by picking up the car in Palo Alto (near the train station) instead of at the San Francisco airport. the short train trip was well worth it. When we go to Venice in the fall, we will be returning a car there and will be charged extra (like 22 euro) to return it at Piazalle Roma instead of at the airport. We will do it because it is still cheaper than getting 3 of us from the airport into Venice, and I've always wanted to drive across that causeway.

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
3577 posts

Hey Ed, you stupid butthead. Sorry, Keith AND Ed - I just wanted to ;-) Of course, that first line doesn't really work if I'm not actually going toe-to-toe (or butthead-to-butthead) with Ed...8^P Yeah - cities have figured out how to let visitors pay for their new stadiums, arenas, hotels, etc. Never mind lots of travelers are on to them, and would rather spend even more money to taxi to a cheaper location. It's the principle of the thing ;-) But if time is really important, I just suck it up. Pay it and forget it. Ugh. Don't get me started on hotel taxes...gggrrrrrr!!!

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7670 posts

Sometimes it is good to gain a little perspective.

Posted by Tim
Knoxville, TN, USA
3060 posts

I'm aware of the surcharges on rental cars both from the airport and the train stations. I think a 10Euro cab ride from your hotel to non-airport or non-train station rental location is definitely with your time and effort...that is, if you REALLY need a rental car. Train tickets have no surcharge for leaving from an airport or train station ;-) Avoid rental cars if you can, and you avoid all of those stupid surcharges and one-way drop fees and CDW and tolls and petrol and parking. Some people enjoy the "freedom" of having a rental car. I enjoy the "freedom" of NOT having a rental car.

Posted by Roy
Auburn, AL
800 posts

This is the most balanced discussion of AP vs city sites for car rentals that I have seen on a Rick Steves site. I would like to see the question and first few posts be added to the FAQ sites on Travelers Helpline. Of course, these sites do little good if few people read them. And if more read the sites, we would miss out on a lot of interesting discussions.

Posted by Rose
NYC
922 posts

Stay in Riverside to visit LA? It would be, indeed, madness to stay in Riverside to visit L.A. This is the type of suggestion a person makes who has only looked at a map without having any knowledge of what exists and happens on the ground. I'd say the same for the notion of staying in Oakland to visit San Francisco, except that area at least has a viable public transportation system. Same for staying in Queens or on Long Island to visit NYC, though that wasn't suggested. The Long Island Railroad (commuter rail) could get you into the city in about an hour from some nice beach towns on the south shore of Long Island, but I think very few people who want to visit NYC even contemplate doing this because so much time would be lost in transport.

Posted by Beth
Boulder, Colorado, USA
74 posts

Sometimes the best prices are for airport rentals, like 12 € per day at CDG. Enjoy the trip!

Posted by Laura
Drexel Hill, PA, USA
133 posts

One thing that no one has yet mentioned: often rental counters at airport locations are open earlier, and stay open later, than those in town locations. This aspect alone MIGHT make paying extra to rent from an airport rental office worth the additional $$. I verify the arrival time of my flight, and then I check out both the airport as well as off-site rental options, where available. If I can avoid the airport site, then I do...but sometimes there is no choice.

Posted by Lo
Tucson
645 posts

And...some agencies are starting to charge the "special" fees for renting in town as opposed to the airport. The stinkers!

Posted by Keith
Los Angeles, CA
7 posts

Actually, I went to Sicily :) We arrived after 10:00 last night, picked up the car (and I did pay the 14% fee), and tonight we spend the night on Mt Etna :)

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7954 posts

Hey, Keith! Where'd you go? Get yourself back here. It's the differences of opinions/perspectives that make this mess work. There ain't no right answer. Push out the scoop and let people pick out what suits them. If you're upset on account of you think Eileen was calling you a butthead too, don't sweat it. She just likes to talk dirty.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7954 posts

Oh. Well. Good. Whew! That was a lot smarter than going to Italy or something. Have a good trip. Come back and tell us what you learned. More importantly, come back and tell us what you screwed up. So's we can make fun of you.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8731 posts

Sicily? Good choice. Make sure to have an extra long weenie fork when making your s'mores at the volcano.... And of course by returning and renting at the airport in Florence, say, you avoid all the heartache of worrying about inadvertently staying into a dreaded ZTL. Speaking of which, how surprised was I upon driving into the the single street of Varenna this afternoon to see a (real) ZTL sign tacked to a tree at centre of town (village)?