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Insider Tips

How can we be of service? Let us count the ways. We actually mean service – unlike those who have promised it before and didn’t show up when it counted most. Consider these insider tips your key to consumer affairs.
A rental car in snow

5 hidden fees in YOUR next rental car contract

Hiring a car? At Two Hoots we've heard of car rentals ballooning to as much 250% of the advertised price. Wow!

Watch out for these 5 common gotchas which can leave you with a shocking sky high bill.

1. The airport surcharge

car parked in a beautiful scenery

What it is: Car rental companies often get charged a fee by the airport for renting their cars in such a great location - these fees can be 10% of the cost or more. Generous car companies often pass that fee along to their customers, yikes!

Ways to avoid: Consider your options outside the airport area.

There are 12 car hire companies within a few kilometres of Melbourne Airport. Some provide free-of-charge shuttle services to and from the airport.

There are six car sharing hubs in close proximity to Sydney airport. A similar but often cheaper option to traditional car rental.

Brisbane has a regular train servicing both the domestic and international terminals travelling direct to the Gold Coast via Brisbane CBD.

Evaluate the cost savings and decide if the extra time and effort is worth the money saved.

2. Fuel charges

petrol station

What it is: Car rental companies charge this fee in two ways (a) either for the cost of fuel if you return with an empty tank, or (b) to fill the tank in the first place. Who said anything about having a car AND the fuel that actually powers that car?

Ways to avoid: As mentioned in our article, 9 secret tips of the well-travelled, often the rental company’s price for fuel seems like a good deal (less expensive than what you’d pay at the bowser), however the rental company charges you for a full tank, regardless of how much fuel you return the car with.

Unless you can execute the perfect return, a car with an empty tank, don't be tempted by this up-sell as it will cost you more in the long run.

3. Additional-driver fees

a cute dog in a rental car

What it is: Adding multiple drivers to a rental car contract can cost anything from 5-10% extra. Allowing your companion to drive for free; that's barking mad!

Ways to avoid: Don't book with rental companies that charge this fee. It's one of the most poorly disclosed hidden charge before you turn up to collect the car, meaning you've got little choice but to pay it. The best way to avoid paying it is to check if it's a standard charge before you book.

4. Underaged driver fees

Child driving car

What it is: Driver under 25 receive special benefits when hiring cars... The benefit is an extra fee, which can range from another 10-20% of the rental price. Forget about being under 21, this will cause your price to skyrocket even higher.

Ways to avoid - Apex Car Rentals advertise no surcharge for drivers under 25. Check if a driver surcharge applies at the time of booking and remember car rental companies are quick to price match, so get one quote and ring around for a better deal.

5. Equipment rental fees

car hire conversation

What it is: Car rental companies love extra fees, this includes things like baby car seats and ski racks, which combined can cost you... Yep you guessed it - another 10-20% on top of your bill.

Ways to avoid: Sometimes bringing your own gear is too inconvenient, despite being the cheapest option. It pays to research the hire car options before you book your holiday. Some companies provide free equipment hire such as snow chains with a minimum rental term.

Bonus info

If a car hire company charges your credit card unexpectedly, this might be a breach of the Australian Consumer Laws with an 'unfair' term. The company needs to give you a chance to dispute the charge before deducting the amount. Contact the ACCC to report any suspect contract terms or behaviours by your car hire company.

Have you been slugged with extra fees when hiring a car? Let us know in the comments below.

Images:Splitshire, JayMantri, ResoneTIC, Suc, Mondberg