How to Extend a Car Rental Reservation

How to Extend a Car Rental Reservation 

If there’s anything we’ve learned from the past couple years, it’s that travel plans often change. So when the schedule shifts because of a delayed flight, weather problems, or just a desperate need to tack on a few extra days to an awesome vacation, you’ll probably need to extend your car rental too. 

Rental companies are usually quick to let you extend your rental period—it’s more money for them. But extending car rental is not always that simple. When you decide to add on some extra days, you need to go about it the right way. 

Contact the Rental Company Directly

When you extend your trip, you may think it’s totally fine to hold on to the car a couple extra days without advising your rental company. They have your information on file, so they can just charge you accordingly, right? Well, not exactly. 

It’s important to advise the rental company that you want to extend your rental. If you turn your car in late, you’ll likely be charged a late fee. This fee can be hourly, and can rack up a hefty bill pretty fast. To avoid those late charges, contact the rental company beforehand and book a separate extension on your rental. That way, you’ll just get charged the daily rate. 

man using computer to extend a car rental


The best way to contact the rental company is to give them a call. Different companies have varying policies when it comes to extending rental car periods. Some simply need a phone call (or multiple phone calls to get to the right customer service agent), while others actually require you to come into the office in person. Several companies will let you extend your rental period online or through their app, but it’s not consistent across the market. 

When you do call, ask, “How can I extend my car rental?” Explain your situation and see what they can do for you. Again, your best bet is always to call just to make sure. 

Late Return is Different Than Extension 

It’s one thing to add on a few days to your trip. In fact, most rental companies will be glad to offer you more rental days. But extending your car rental reservation and turning your car in late are two totally different scenarios.

Most companies have about a 29-minute grace period for returns. In other words, if you’re scheduled to return the car at 10 a.m. and you hit some traffic, you’ve only got until 10:29 to get the car back to the drop-off point. After the grace period ends, you’ll incur late fees. These late fees are often charged hourly up until a certain point, usually about two to seven hours after the original drop-off time. 

If you want to know how to extend car rental time in a tight situation, you’ll need to contact the rental company. But the best tactic is to understand the conditions ahead of time (when you book) so you know exactly what to do if you get into a jam. 

Expect Increased Fees

Fees abound with rental car companies, and extending your car rental is no exception. When you change your rental period and extend the reservation, be prepared for fees. 

First, when you switch up your reservation, you’re likely to incur a change fee, just like you would with an airline. It probably won’t break the bank, but it’s an added cost to consider before extending your trip. 

Don’t be surprised if the rental company also charges you a higher daily rate for those extra days. The daily rate you locked in on your initial booking is probably not going to be the same as a last-minute reservation rate. Weekend rates, for example, tend to be more expensive. Or, if those extended days start to creep into a high travel season, you’ll find yourself with a pricey daily rate. 

You could also incur some additional taxes for airport rentals. Rental companies located at the airport pay additional taxes, and they pass these on to their customers. These fees will get tacked onto your bill. 

When you make changes to your trip, make sure you know exactly what it will cost you. If not, you could find yourself with a handful of surprise fees. 

Extending the Car Rental Reservation

When you decide to extend the reservation, look for the right phone number on your rental contract. You’ll want to call the actual rental office instead of the company headquarters. Otherwise, you’ll probably be on hold for a while and get transferred to a few different people. 

Once you make the call, make sure you have your contract in front of you so you can easily access the reservation number, or any other information the rental car company needs from you. 

As with any travel change, it’s important to understand the repercussions before making a decision. Once you’ve extended the reservation, make sure you’re totally clear on the new contract terms. Do you know the new return date and time? What are the additional fees? Will the company put an additional hold on your credit card? Ask the right questions. Get the right answers. 

Be Prepared

The best thing you can do when you want to know how to extend car rental is to do the research ahead of time. Understand the change and extension fees before booking. Read the fine print on your contract. Do your research or contact the rental company before booking. That way, you won’t be surprised by any fees and you won’t waste precious travel days on tedious car rental research. 

Extend Car Rental Time with Avail 

At Avail, extending your car rental is totally straightforward. You can extend your rental easily in just a few seconds via the Avail app (as long as it’s available). If you're running late, just give Avail a call and let them know your situation. Usually, it's no problem to change your drop off time.

At Avail, if we and the owner of the car can be flexible, we will. Borrow a car with Avail and you’ll get more freedom and flexibility on all your travels.