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View Full Version : Returning rental car - what time?


the4fishes
03-14-2012, 09:32 PM
We arrive at MCO on April 28th at noon, and we leave for home on May 5th at 6:45am. What time do I say I will return the car? Do I get penalized for returning it early? What if I'm an hour late? I'm puzzled why returning the car at noon is cheaper than say 6:30 that same morning:confused3

snesguy
03-15-2012, 12:57 AM
Where are you getting the different rate from? Most car rental companies I have dealt with have rates per 24 hour period and returning early on the same day isn't penalized. If you return on a different day the rate structure could be different (weekly rate vs. 6 days), so if your 7th day (24 hour day) doesn't start until 10 AM in the morning on the day you return you will be charged 6x the daily rate (which is probably more than the weekly rate) to return at 6:30 AM. There are also weekend rates and if you don't meet the minimum number of 24 hour days for that (by returning too early) you will not qualify for the cheaper rate.

Another thing to check is that the car rental company has hours of operation (or a night drop off) at the time you want to return (could be a problem at smaller airports that don't stay open 24 hours/day).

If this really is happening due to a policy and not a mistake you can probably find some corporate rate code or other rate code to book with (maybe AAA or Costco) that allows for an anytime return.

Have you tried checking prices on Hotwire? There are no refunds or changes once booked through Hotwire so your dates have to be firm but many times I find better prices on Hotwire than booking direct though the car rental companies.

tkldisney
03-15-2012, 10:01 AM
Depends on wether you have luggage to check or not and if you have rental car thats inside the airport. I would return car no later than 5:30 AM, if your company is inside airport. That will give you and hour to get through security and to your gate. If you are checking bags, I'd use curbside checkin and have your boarding passes printed as well.
5:00 AM would be ultimate return time, but thats really early for me. If you give them a 5 AM time and return at 5:30, they won't charge you for that. They normally give you and hour.

It's hard to say because you could put in pickup time and your flights late so right there's a difference in pickup time, thats why I always put my flight down when I'm making my online reservation.

gmeh1
03-15-2012, 11:16 AM
We arrive at MCO on April 28th at noon, and we leave for home on May 5th at 6:45am. What time do I say I will return the car? Do I get penalized for returning it early? What if I'm an hour late? I'm puzzled why returning the car at noon is cheaper than say 6:30 that same morning:confused3

Depends totally on the rental policies for the company you booked with.
Most only allow a 29 minute grace period, rather than the old 59 minutes.
Car rentals go on a 24 hour clock. If you book a pickup time of noon, you will have until noon on the 5th of May. You should not be penalized for an earlier drop off time. If you are an hour late, you will be charged for that hour, if you are two hours late, you will be charged for two hours. If you are over two hours late, you will be charged for the day.
Weekly rates start at the 5 day rental period with most companies.
I have no answer for the difference in rates. But, book with the time of actual pickup and book the return approx. 2 hours before you flight time.
It would be easier to help if you supplied the name of the company you are using.

gmeh1
03-15-2012, 11:17 AM
Depends on wether you have luggage to check or not and if you have rental car thats inside the airport. I would return car no later than 5:30 AM, if your company is inside airport. That will give you and hour to get through security and to your gate. If you are checking bags, I'd use curbside checkin and have your boarding passes printed as well.
5:00 AM would be ultimate return time, but thats really early for me. If you give them a 5 AM time and return at 5:30, they won't charge you for that. They normally give you and hour.

It's hard to say because you could put in pickup time and your flights late so right there's a difference in pickup time, thats why I always put my flight down when I'm making my online reservation.

Most companies no longer give that 59 minute grace period, they are down to 29 minutes.

gmeh1
03-15-2012, 11:18 AM
Where are you getting the different rate from? Most car rental companies I have dealt with have rates per 24 hour period and returning early on the same day isn't penalized. If you return on a different day the rate structure could be different (weekly rate vs. 6 days), so if your 7th day (24 hour day) doesn't start until 10 AM in the morning on the day you return you will be charged 6x the daily rate (which is probably more than the weekly rate) to return at 6:30 AM. There are also weekend rates and if you don't meet the minimum number of 24 hour days for that (by returning too early) you will not qualify for the cheaper rate.

Another thing to check is that the car rental company has hours of operation (or a night drop off) at the time you want to return (could be a problem at smaller airports that don't stay open 24 hours/day).

If this really is happening due to a policy and not a mistake you can probably find some corporate rate code or other rate code to book with (maybe AAA or Costco) that allows for an anytime return.

Have you tried checking prices on Hotwire? There are no refunds or changes once booked through Hotwire so your dates have to be firm but many times I find better prices on Hotwire than booking direct though the car rental companies.

Weekly rates start at 5 days.

the4fishes
03-15-2012, 07:23 PM
Thanks everyone for the replies. I have been checking Alamo and National, but I honestly can't remember which one was giving me different prices for earlier return. I've plugged in so many codes, and rechecked, and rechecked, and rechecked.... all starts to blur together! So it sounds like it's better to put a later time, say 10am, with the plan of dropping if off early. Seems like I was once told there is a fee for an early return - I never knew if they meant by early such in a day or in an hour and was afraid of getting penalized.

the4fishes
03-15-2012, 07:34 PM
Depends on wether you have luggage to check or not and if you have rental car thats inside the airport. I would return car no later than 5:30 AM, if your company is inside airport. That will give you and hour to get through security and to your gate. If you are checking bags, I'd use curbside checkin and have your boarding passes printed as well.
5:00 AM would be ultimate return time, but thats really early for me. If you give them a 5 AM time and return at 5:30, they won't charge you for that. They normally give you and hour.

It's hard to say because you could put in pickup time and your flights late so right there's a difference in pickup time, thats why I always put my flight down when I'm making my online reservation.

That was the other question I had... how much time to allow myself to get thru the airport on the way home. It's been 4 years since our last trip, so I completely forgot what to expect for timelines.

gmeh1
03-16-2012, 10:46 AM
Thanks everyone for the replies. I have been checking Alamo and National, but I honestly can't remember which one was giving me different prices for earlier return. I've plugged in so many codes, and rechecked, and rechecked, and rechecked.... all starts to blur together! So it sounds like it's better to put a later time, say 10am, with the plan of dropping if off early. Seems like I was once told there is a fee for an early return - I never knew if they meant by early such in a day or in an hour and was afraid of getting penalized.

Give it a try, but, try to keep in on the hour, not the half hour. Ie: return at 10am rather than 10:30 am.
you won't get penalized for returning it early.
I would plan on getting to the airport at least two hours before departure.