Travel

Car-Rental Firms Punish No-Shows

Expect to pay a fee if you don't cancel your reservation.

Your flight is canceled and the next one isn’t until tomorrow. Better call the hotel and cancel the room -- and don’t forget the rental-car counter. Some 20% to 30% of people who reserve a car with a rental agency never pick up the keys. But travelers who are accustomed to getting a free pass when they fail to claim their rental may soon be hit with a fee. “These no-show fees are not a matter of if but when,” says rental-car industry consultant Neil Abrams. Such charges already exist in other countries, and in some cases you’ll pay a no-show fee in the U.S. for a hybrid or other specialty car, for a long-term rental, or for renting at peak times.

With demand down and operating costs rising as Detroit funnels fewer cars into rental fleets, rental companies are looking for income. Over the past year, Avis has begun retooling technology to allow the company to process credit-card numbers at the time of reservation, giving the company the ability to, among other things, penalize no-shows. There’s no rollout timetable yet, but an Avis spokesperson says the process will be moving ahead in the next few months -- and not just at Avis, but likely industrywide. In the U.K., Avis gives no-shows a 24-hour grace period to cancel the reservation or pick up the car; after that the company charges a fee of 40 euros (about $57).

For Patty Hsu, a consultant from Cerritos, Cal., who rents cars for business travel, a fee for a missed reservation could be an expensive speed bump but not a surprising one. “It sounds like the same concept as hotel-cancellation policies,” says Hsu.

Most Popular

Your Guide to Roth Conversions
Special Report
Tax Breaks

Your Guide to Roth Conversions

A Kiplinger Special Report
February 25, 2021
How to Calculate the Break-Even Age for Taking Social Security
social security

How to Calculate the Break-Even Age for Taking Social Security

When it comes to maximizing your Social Security benefits, there are many elements to consider. One factor that can be especially enlightening is your…
August 30, 2021
Spend Without Worry in Retirement
Financial Planning

Spend Without Worry in Retirement

Fears of running out of money prevent many retirees from tapping the nest egg they’ve worked a lifetime to save. With these strategies, you can genera…
August 30, 2021

Recommended

17 Free or Cheap Things to Do With Your Kids During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Raising Money-Smart Kids

17 Free or Cheap Things to Do With Your Kids During the COVID-19 Pandemic

We’ve got lots of kid-friendly activities to do at home that will keep your family safe and your finances sound.
September 8, 2021
Complain and Be Heard
Smart Buying

Complain and Be Heard

Getting our money back for the extended warranty and gap insurance we didn't want took patience and persistence.
August 31, 2021
Credit Cards Offer Travel Insurance
Travel

Credit Cards Offer Travel Insurance

Premium rewards cards that may charge an annual fee generally provide better coverage.
August 26, 2021
19 Things You Can't Return to Amazon
Amazon Prime

19 Things You Can't Return to Amazon

Before tossing these items into your virtual shopping cart, be sure to read Amazon's return policy first.
August 16, 2021