If there’s anything we’ve learned from the past couple years, it’s that travel plans often change. So when your 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 — after all, it’s more money for them. But how to extend a 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.
1. Contact the company directly for a car rental extension
When you extend your trip, you may think it’s totally fine to hold on to the car a couple extra days without telling your rental company. They have your information on file, so they can just charge you accordingly, right? Well, not exactly.
It’s important to let the rental company know 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, which 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.
The best way to contact the rental company is to give them a call. Different companies have different 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 a pick-up location 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, “Can I extend my rental car?” Explain your situation and see what they can do for you. Again, your best bet is always to call just to make sure.
2. Ask the right questions when 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 find the reservation number, or any other information the company may need 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 to get the right answers.
3. See if you can do a late return rather than a car rental extension
It’s one thing to add on a few days to your trip. 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 location. 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.
4. Find out the additional cost and if there’s a change fee
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 may find yourself with a pricier 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.
Avoid surprises by being prepared
The best thing you can do when you want to know about extending a rental car 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.
Easily extend car rental time with Avail
At Avail, extending your reservation is straightforward. You can easily add more time to your booking easily in your account via the Avail app or website, as long as the car is available for the additional time you need it. Sometimes, the car may be booked for another trip or its owner may need to pick it up. But if there’s flexibility, we’ll allow you to extend your rental for the time needed. Borrow a car with Avail and you’ll get more freedom and flexibility on all your travels.