Car rental gas service option: is it wise?

That statement in one way or another has been part of car rental from the beginning. In the early days, it was a matter of direct principle. You used it, you replace it. Sometime between then and now, someone realized that "you can earn a lot of money with the rental gas tank."

For those who don't know, let's explain their refueling options in car rental. When you rent a car, the car usually comes with a full tank of gasoline. In some circumstances, it comes with a partially filled tank. In any case, the rental company will give you three options. Return it to the same level where you got it, prepaid (complete) for a full tank of gasoline (GSO) and return it empty, or return it empty and pay a refill charge (FSO) of a more expensive gallon fee.

The fuel service option (FSO) is almost always the most expensive option. Up and down the coast of California, most cities have FSO charges of around $ 5.99 per gallon (and with recent prices, even higher). Across the country, it is not much better. While your mileage may vary based on the actual price per gallon, FSO charges are almost always a good dollar per gallon more expensive than the prevailing GSO (prepaid) rate or the rate of local service stations. It may seem that there is no good reason to use the FSO, but there is. While most FSO users are people with more money than time or people who forgot to fill the gas tank, there is a segment in which it is cheaper to use this service than any other.

If you have a discount code, it can be by your employer. Some employers, such as Microsoft and government contracts such as Lockheed Martin, have negotiated rates at which the same dollar amount for refueling is charged nationwide. Depending on the market, it may not be so bad. In one circumstance, a friend of mine who worked for one of the companies mentioned above made a trip to Kona, Hawaii. On that trip, the refueling price of the fuel service option was lower than the prices per gallon of all local service stations 5 miles from the airport. In that case, it is always better to return the car as it is.

At the other end of the spectrum, the GSO option is a full prepaid gas tank at a specific speed. In most car rental agencies, the price of OSG is the average of the three closest service stations. With this average, they multiply the capacity of the tank by that number and offer it as a flat rate to fill the tank. But the buyer be careful. If the tank is not completely empty when you return it, you will not receive a refund for the gas you use. You have effectively paid for a full tank of gasoline and, if it is not "empty" on your return, you have given the car rental agency free gasoline to use.

In short, when should you use FSO (fuel service option)?

  • Only when you have no other option
  • Only when your company's discount provides you with a special rate for refueling.
  • For those who have more money than time.

And when should I load fuel with the GSO option?

  • Trips where you know you will have the car for more than a week
  • Trips where you know you will drive more than 400 miles
  • When you know that you will be limited by the time to return

Some final tips. When you leave the rental area, take note of the nearest service station. If you have time, it is often good to drive directly and accelerate the car to make sure it is completely full when you received it. Many of today's tanks allow up to 50-100 miles before the needle drops below its maximum capacity. If the agency stated that the tank is full, the nozzle should click almost immediately (3/10 gallon). But for you to do well, you really don't have to worry if it's less than 3/4 of a gallon unless 85 cents is enough for you to argue and lose 20 minutes. If you enter more than that, take the receipt to the counter when you return the car and get the amount of gas deducted from the bill.

If you have a GPS unit, block the location of the car rental area and the nearest service station to save time when you return. Some of the best plans are ruined by getting lost trying to return to the airport. If you are traveling in a group, assign a person to look for the car rental return signs, the exit ramp, the nearest restaurant, among other things you may need on your way back to the airport.

Under no circumstances should you buy the most expensive gasoline! Let me repeat that in clearer terms. for the cheap gas. All car rental agencies buy the cheapest gas that the law will allow. Do not feel guilty for filling that car with a more expensive gas. The car will break down and be sold for abuse long before the gas causes problems for the car.