One of the areas to be careful of is the company’s fuel policy. We’ve all heard of situations where friends or relatives have felt ripped off due to excessive fuel charges. What can you do to avoid getting stung by unexpected fuel charges? What types of fuel policy are there?
First of all, don’t worry – you can avoid being caught out by learning a few simple definitions. Then when booking your car you will recognise the fuel policy and make your choice accordingly. Remember, you’re in control – so as you look through car hire deals feel free to choose one with a fuel policy that’s right for you.
Historically, all hire cars came with a ‘full to full” fuel policy. You would pick up the car with a full tank of fuel and you would need to bring it back full too. If you pick up the car and notice it’s not full, it’s best to point this out to the car hire agency staff before leaving so that you can bring it back at the same fuel level.
You can avoid unexpected charges by replacing the fuel that you use – which gives you peace of mind. The car hire company may hold some funds from your credit card to cover the cost of the fuel, but will release the hold when you bring back the car with a full tank.
Summary: Peace of mind, no hidden charges.
When you pick up the car it has a full tank, but you pay up front for that fuel before driving away. The car hire firm’s price for that fuel will usually be slightly higher than the prices you would find at a local petrol station. Because the firm won’t refund any fuel that you don’t use during your car hire, you should try to bring the car back nearly empty.
Summary: You’re paying to save a trip to the petrol station by paying for this ‘extra’ at the desk. You will pay for unused fuel.
As above, you pay for the fuel up front and the cost of fuel will be slightly higher than a petrol station. But when you bring your car back you will get a refund for any unused fuel.
Summary: You’re paying to save a trip to the petrol station by paying for this ‘extra’ at the desk. Refund for unused fuel.
As above, you pay for the fuel up front and the cost of fuel will be slightly higher than a petrol station. But when you bring your car back you will get a refund for any unused fuel less an admin fee.
Summary: You’re paying to save a trip to the petrol station by paying for this ‘extra’ at the desk. Partial refund for unused fuel.
Unfortunately, some of these newer fuel policies seem to simply be a way for car hire companies to recoup money ‘lost’ through lower pricing on the basic price of car rental.
As you compare car hire deals you will usually notice that the traditional and more desirable “full to full” policies will be offered with slightly more expensive car hire offers. However, you have the peace of mind knowing that you’re avoiding being overcharged for your fuel.
You will also find that the pre-purchase fuel policies are offered with slightly cheaper car hire offers, so bear in mind the additional cost when weighing up which deal is right for you. If you’re on a short trip, you might well not use all of the fuel.
Driving a typical car you could manage to get up to 750km of mileage from one full tank of fuel. This would happily get you to Valencia and back a couple of times.
The Pre-Purchase (Refund) and Pre-Purchase (Partial Refund) policies are obviously better than a straight Pre-Purchase policy because you will get some kind of refund for unused fuel. Of course, in both cases the car hire company will make a profit margin of the fuel used.