Can You Return a Rental Car Early? Policies for Each Rental Company…

It’s common sense to figure that you’ll be charged additional fees for making a late return on a rental car, but what happens if you return one early? There is no single answer to this question — early rental return policies vary widely between car rental companies. Return a rental car early and you can end up saving money or even spending more.

Keep reading to learn what you need to know about returning your rental car earlier than planned.

In This Article

What Happens If You Return a Rental Car Early?

You might think returning a rental car early could save you some cash, but in fact, an early car rental return can sometimes cost you more than it would to keep the car until the agreed return date. Still, in other cases, a rental car returned early may cost the same as or less than it would have had you returned it at the planned time.

In some cases, you will be charged the amount originally agreed upon at the time of rental, but will not be refunded a partial amount for unused days. Other companies will recalculate your rental rate based on the number of days you actually used the vehicle and charge you the recalculated rates — which may be higher or lower than your original rental quote, depending on any discounts you may have been quoted. For example, if you rented a car for one week at a discounted weekly rate, but returned the car after four days, you would be charged the higher daily rate for those four days instead of the discounted weekly rate.

Finally, a few companies may charge additional fees for early rental returns, and may or may not refund you for unused days. Early return fees typically function to compensate the rental company for its inability to rent the vehicle during the remaining time that was reserved for your use.

Car Rental Companies That Charge Early Return Fees

The following are the car rental companies that charge additional fees when you return your rental early:

1. ACE Rent A Car

  • Early return policy: Rental rates will be recalculated based on current prices at the time of return, and you will be charged according to the actual length of time rented.
  • Early return fees: Some locations charge no fees; others may charge around $25 per day for early returns. Contact your local ACE for details on their early return policy.
  • Source: ACE’s website; customer service confirmed the average early return fee.
  • Find your nearest ACE location.

2. Alamo

  • Early return policy: Rental fees are recalculated based on the current rates at your time of return, which may be different than the original rates.
  • Early return fees: Additional $15 fee for rentals returned more than 24 hours early.
  • Source: Customer service representative.
  • Find your nearest Alamo location.

3. Avis Rent A Car

  • Early return policy: Rental fees are recalculated according to the current rates at the time of return.
  • Early return fees: $10 contract modification fee, unless notified at least 24 hours in advance of the changed return date.
  • Source: Customer service.
  • Find your nearest Avis location.

4. Dollar Rent A Car

  • Early return policy: Pay only for the days used. However, additional fees apply if you did not prepay your rental and you return the vehicle more than 24 hours before your scheduled return time.
  • Early return fees: $25
  • Source: Dollar’s website.
  • Find your nearest Dollar location.
  • NOTE: You can reduce the early return fee by calling Dollar’s On-Rent Help Desk at (866) 434-2226 ahead of time and modifying your agreement to reflect an earlier rental return day and time.

5. Fox Rent A Car

  • Early return policy: Returning a vehicle early will incur a higher daily or weekly charge, as applicable to your original rental period.
  • Early return fees: Additional $20 per day, with a total charge not exceeding the original estimated total at time of rental.
  • Source: Fox’s website.
  • Find your nearest Fox location.

6. Sixt

  • Early return policy: No refunds on early returns for prepaid car rentals. For rentals that are not prepaid, rates will be recalculated based on current rental fees and actual length of rental, plus additional fees where applicable. This rate may be higher than your originally quoted rate.
  • Early return fees: Varies by location and actual length of rental.
  • Source: Page 18 of Sixt’s terms and conditions. Customer service confirmed that various early return fees may apply, but was unable to specify further.
  • Find your nearest Sixt location.

7. Thrifty Car Rental

  • Early return policy: Pay only for the days used. However, additional fees apply if you did not prepay your rental and you return the vehicle more than 24 hours before your scheduled return time.
  • Early return fees: $25
  • Source: Thrifty’s website.
  • Find your nearest Thrifty location.
  • NOTE: You can reduce the early return fee by calling Thrifty Car Rental’s On-Rent Help Desk at (877) 283-0898 ahead of time and modifying your agreement to reflect an earlier rental return day and time.

Car Rental Companies That Change Rental Rates for Early Returns

The following car companies will recalculate the rental charges for your vehicle if you return it early — but will not charge an actual fine for an early return. In many cases, the recalculated rates can still result in a higher overall charge if you rented a car at a discount weekly rate or through a special deal because the fees are recalculated using the current daily rental rate.

For example: If you rented a car at a weekly rate of $119 and returned it after four days, and the current daily rental fee on your return date was $45, you would pay $180 for the rental rather than the discounted $119.

1. Advantage Rent A Car

  • Early return policy: Rental rates will be recalculated based on current prices at the time of return, and you will be charged according to the actual length of time rented.
  • Early return fees: No additional fees.
  • Source: Customer service representative.
  • Find your nearest Advantage location.

2. Budget Rent A Car

3. Hertz

  • Early return policy: No refunds for early returns on prepaid rentals. For rentals that are not prepaid, rates will be recalculated based on the current rental fees at the time of return.
  • Early return fees: No additional fees.
  • Source: Customer service representative.
  • Find your nearest Hertz location.

4. Payless Car Rental

  • Early return policy: In general, rates will be recalculated based on actual length of rental. Early return policies may vary by location.
  • Early return fees: Typically no additional fees, though this may vary by location.
  • Source: Customer service representative.
  • Find your nearest Payless location.

Car Rental Companies That Don’t Penalize Early Returns

These car rental companies may or may not give partial refunds for early returns, but they do not recalculate rental rates or charge additional fees.

1. Enterprise Rent-A-Car

  • Early return policy: You will only be charged for the day(s) you kept the vehicle.
  • Early return fees: No additional fees
  • Source: Enterprise’s website
  • Find your nearest Enterprise location
  • NOTE: For non-airport Enterprise locations, vehicles that are returned after business hours are not considered checked in until the next business day. If you return a vehicle to a non-airport location after-hours, you may not be refunded for the additional day.

2. E-Z Rent-A-Car

  • Early return policy: You will only be charged for the day(s) you kept the vehicle.
  • Early return fees: No additional fees
  • Source: Customer service representative
  • Find your nearest E-Z location

3. Getaround

4. National Car Rental

5. Rent-A-Wreck

  • Early return policy: You will only be charged for the day(s) you kept the vehicle.
  • Early return fees: No additional fees
  • Source: Customer service representative
  • Find your nearest Rent-A-Wreck location

6. Turo

  • Early return policy: Refunds may be provided for early returns, provided you request to end your rental agreement early through the Turo dashboard and the request is accepted by the owner. For approved requests, unused rental time is automatically refunded through the app.
  • Early return fees: No additional fees
  • Source: Turo’s website
  • Rent a car with Turo

7. U-Save

  • Early return policy: No refunds given on early returns
  • Early return fees: No additional fees
  • Source: Customer service representative
  • Find your nearest U-Save location
  • Note: According to customer service representatives, U-Save’s early return policies may vary by location, as the company is franchised. Contact your local U-Save office to ask about any location-specific early return policies.

In Summary

Returning a rental car early might not save you any money — in some cases, it may even cost you more! It’s often to your advantage to keep a rental car for the entire term of your agreement, even if you don’t use it for the full time. Familiarize yourself with the rental company’s early return policy before you sign a rental agreement to avoid any unexpected fees or additional charges.

Suggested: Here’s What Happens If You Return a Rental Car Late

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