Rental car companies pass high gas prices on to customers - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Rental car companies pass high gas prices on to customers

Bobby Silva Bobby Silva
Susan Clines Susan Clines

By Teri Okita – bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – USA Today surveyed rental car refueling options at major airports across the country. It found fuel prices topped NINE dollars-a-gallon in some instances!

So, Hawaii News Now did a little digging ourselves to see how Honolulu airport's rental car companies compared. Customer Bobby Silva rents cars so often, he keeps a gas price app on his I-phone. I asked Silva, "Do you usually check the gas prices when you rent cars?" "Yes," he replied. "Everytime. Yeah, everywhere I go."

He reviews refueling options before he books a reservation and was shocked to hear some mainland airports are charging upwards of nine dollars-a-gallon for drivers who don't pre-pay and return the car without a full tank.

"It's like everything else," says Silva. "If you don't regulate certain things, everyone will find a way to get around it, especially in this economy. They'll squeeze you anyway you can."

At five big companies around Honolulu's airport ... Alamo, Avis, Budget, Hertz, and Thrifty ... "pre-paying" for a tank of gas runs anywhere from $4.30 to $4.48 for regular unleaded. That's on par with what gas stations are asking.

Returning a vehicle on empty is another thing. It's far from nine dollars-a-gallon but still pretty pricey. Thrifty charges $5.10 cents-a-gallon for a fill up. Avis and Budget, $6.50. Alamo, $6.53, and Hertz slaps customers with $6.68 a gallon.

"I would suggest they fill it up," advises Susan Clines of Hawaii's J-N Rentals.

Unlike the corporate giants, J-N Rentals - which caters to the local market - keeps it simple. There's no pre-pay. But it, too, charges about a dollar more for an empty tank return.

Clines says, "Our policy is: we rent it to them with a full tank of gas and we ask that they return it the same way. So, they have the option. If they don't return full, we charge $5.50 a gallon."

We did a little math.

For a popular compact rental car, like the Ford Focus, which has about a 14 gallon tank, if you filled it up at a gas station, at $4.50 a gallon, it would cost you about 63 dollars total. If you returned it empty and let the rental car company fill 'er up at $6.50 a gallon, it would cost you a total of about 91 dollars.

The bottom line is: forget to fill 'er up, and expect to fork out big bucks.

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