What to Do if You Lose The Keys to a Rental Car

What to Do if You Lose the Keys to a Rental Car

Lost rental car keys can be a major hurdle during your trip. Even if you’re near the rental car dealership, they may not have an extra set of keys for you to use. There are a few different ways to navigate this unfortunate situation. Both will require some waiting on your part, as well as some sort of fee. But it’s totally possible to get those lost rental car keys replaced so you can move on with your day. Here are some tips on how to handle the situation and what to expect each step of the way.

What to do if you lose rental car keys

Once you realize that your keys are lost, you have a couple of different options to get back in the car and on the road. 

Call roadside assistance

Most rental cars come with a roadside assistance phone number. You should be able to call and have someone sent out to help with your situation. However, each rental car company has its own policy about how this works. Some offer a basic hotline and then charge more for a premium service, often as a daily rate. If you didn’t opt in for roadside assistance, you can still call the number and get help. You may just need to pay extra for the service, which is well worth the cost when you’re stranded without a way to get into or start the car. 

Check your rental agreement

While you’re waiting for roadside assistance, check your rental agreement to see how the company handles lost keys to a rental car. You may be responsible for the fee if you don’t have additional insurance that covers extra keys being made. An older key may not be as expensive to replace. But newer key fobs can cost a couple hundred dollars. And if you received (and lost) a pair of keys, you’ll be charged that fee for both, essentially doubling the amount of money you have to pay. Details vary depending on your rental car company and what type of extra services you paid for at the time of rental, which is why it’s important to check your agreement so you know exactly what to expect.

cars on showroom floor for car rental company


Go to the dealership

If roadside assistance from your rental company has a long wait or isn’t available for some reason, you could go to a local dealership for your type of car. This is definitely the most expensive option, but is good to have as a last resort. You do, however, have to demonstrate some type of proof of ownership of the vehicle. Even though you don’t own the car, you’ll need to provide documentation that you are responsible for the car. Just as with roadside assistance, the cost depends on the type of key you need replaced and how many. The newer and more digitized the key, the more expensive it will be.

Why don’t rental car keys separate?

When you first pick up your car, you may notice that you actually receive two rental car keys attached together. Since they don’t separate, you can’t keep a spare to use in case you lose one, nor can you split them up between two drivers. That may seem counterintuitive; after all, if you lose one key, you lose them both. 

The reason rental car companies provide you with two attached keys is simply to keep all of the vehicle’s components together. One-way reservations are common; a lot of drivers rent a car in one city, then drop it off in another. In order to keep those keys together across multiple cities, the rental car company entrusts them with the driver. Otherwise, rental car counters would have spare keys to cars that aren’t nearby and likely won’t be for some time.

Bottom line

Losing your rental car key can be a hassle, but it’s not the end of the world. Before you even book your reservation, check out what kind of policies and roadside assistance benefits each rental company offers. Avail automatically includes coverage from Allstate to every driver. That includes 24/7 customer service so you always have access to the help you need.

Book your next rental car with Avail today.