10 Car Rental Scams That You Need To Avoid Today

Top 10 Car Rental Scams Everyone Should Know About

Are you about to rent a car or a truck? Beware. Here are the new Top 10 car rental scams out there. Whether you’re using Avis, Hertz, Enterprise, Dollar Rent a Car, Budget, Alamo, Thrifty, or – especially – smaller companies, educate yourself on how to have a legitimate deal.

What’s interesting is that most of the deceptive practices listed below are actually listed in the fine print of your agreements, just so the companies can avoid liability. Feel free to add in the Comments section at the end of the article your experience and report any names of questionable businesses and their locations.

Here is the list below:


1. Mandatory Insurance Fee

Watch the video below to see the Car Rental Insurance Scam exposed:

Here is how the Car Rental Insurance Scam works. You are about to rent a car and the agent at the desk requires you to pay a mandatory insurance fee. You think about it and eventually are okay with that since insurance is essential, right?

What you don’t know is that your credit card – whether Visa, Mastercard or American Express – has auto insurance incorporated already! The rental company is just trying to make more money by asking you for this.

Check your credit card’s benefits and see if the rental is covered indeed. Most credit card companies cover auto insurance, although this fact is not commonly known. The agent knows, but he gets a commission for selling you the extra protection.


2. Rental Car Damage

Watch the video below to see a sneaky damage scam pulled by a company called Record Go Car Rental, exposed by a victim – with proof:



That’s just one variant of the Rental Car Damage Scam. Besides the rip-off shown at Record Go, there is another example we want to show you. Imagine this scenario. You rented a car for a few days and now you just returned it. After checking it out, one of the employees walks past by you and gives you an accusatory look.

He calls you over he asks you to start the car. When you try – which you’ve been doing successfully every day for the past two weeks – it doesn’t work. The mechanic takes you back to the office and they draft up a bill with hefty charges for the “engine troubles” you caused. You insist you didn’t do anything, but they aren’t relenting. What did they do? Let’s look.

car rental damage

Suggested Read: CARES Act Call Scam


Little do you know, the mechanic flooded the carburetor on purpose while you were chatting with the agent at the desk about how your holiday was amazing. The fees they’re charging are way beyond what it would cost to fix it.

What’s even worse is that these deceptive car rental companies say they need to fix the vehicle only at a specific car body shop they work with. In reality, that body shop belongs to them. The prices are much higher than usual.

This Rental Car Damage Scam is pulled on people who are not mechanically inclined. Tell them you’ve heard of the scheme and threaten to call a lawyer.


3. Rental Car Upgrade Trick

The Rental Car Upgrade Coupon Scam occurs this way: let’s say you have a voucher from a rental car company and you’re just about to redeem it. The agent suggests, “Would you like to upgrade for only an extra seven dollars a day? You can get whatever vehicle you want, instead of limiting yourself to whatever the voucher allows you.” Sounds good, right?

rental car upgrade red mustang

Suggested Read: Ignition Interlock Device Scam

You pick the most beautiful car, sign the contract, and off you go. The surprise comes next month when you see a $500 charge on your credit card statement!

When calling the company to inquire about the ridiculous charge, you are told that the amount included fees such as “Road Assurance” for about $140 (e.g. if you would have a flat tire they would come and fix it) or an “Airport Recovery Charge” for $55, both of which you knew nothing about.

4. Rental Car Overdue

Also known as the Rental Car Late Return Scam, this rip-off is also very common these days. How does it work?

You’ve been doing your job with a car that you rented for a few days. It is Sunday and you have to return the vehicle. As you give back the keys and wait for them to check the car, they present you with an invoice that has $75 more on it than you expected.

When you query this, they tell you that you were supposed to bring the car back by noon, not now, at 4PM. You didn’t know about it because they never mentioned the time of return in the beginning. They either invented the “late charges fee” on the spot or had it written on a tiny sign behind the desk.

car rental late return fees

Suggested Read: Car Shpping Companies Scam


5. Vehicle Delivered To Your Door And Stolen

This fraudulent act is probably the most shocking one of the 10 scams. The criminals are not real car rental companies, but crooks who advertise vehicles for rent on websites like Craigslist or Oodle. The prices are much lower than the ones at a regular car rental company, so many people turn victims by trying to get a good deal – especially when they’re interested in driving the vehicles for a longer time.

Watch the video below to see in action how the criminals steal your rented car:


6. Stapled Contract To Hide The Fine Print

You are about to rent a car and do your research online. There is a vehicle there that you really like. You call the company, tell them what you want and mention there is no need for insurance. Then you head over to pick it up.

The desk agent is a friendly gentleman who gets you to sign the contract, folds it and staples it, so you won’t get to see the fine print. Nicely folded and easier to carry in an envelope, you don’t pay attention to the details.

Then one day, when you get your credit card statement in the mail, you notice that you were overcharged $165, although you said no auto insurance was needed.

7. Unlimited Mileage Rental Car

People rent cars when they are going on a long trip and don’t want to overuse their own vehicles. That’s when they might get excited seeing ads promoting “unlimited mileage” offers. How does the scam work?

Unscrupulous rental companies bury a clause in the fine print stating that the offer applies only to “in-state travel”, while the clerks avoid mentioning it to the clients.

Not reading the fine print and bringing the car back 4,000 miles later could place huge charges on your bill. Read the fine print and avoid the Unlimited Mileage Rental Car Scam!


8. Car Rental Deposit: Mandatory Charge and Currency Fees

This is another tricky one. Watch the video below to see the best description of the scam, which occurred at Goldcar Rental:



You need to take away how the scam works exactly, not necessarily the amount of money or the name of the company that does it.

Primarily, it works like this. Just like in the Goldcar Rental case exposed above, the agent asks for a deposit – which is normal – but will fully charge (not hold) your credit card. The deposit is super high, and de insists that he needs to charge it in your home currency, whether that USD, British Pounds, $CDN, or EURO. He says that the POS system doesn’t have the option to charge in local currency. He also mentions that your bank is forcing the POS system to charge it that way.

If you accept it, when they refund your deposit, they will do it in the local currency! This way, there will be a difference in the exchange rates, and they will keep the profit. If the deposit is $1,000, you will lose an extra $50. Make sure to check your bank statement after you’ve returned your car. Verify that the amount you were debited initially is the exact amount you were refunded.

9. International Rental Car Insurance

Planning to travel soon? Beware of the International Rental Car Insurance Scam. What is it? Let’s say you are planning a great vacation in a different country. You book your hotel, rental car, auto insurance, and then take the plane.

Once you arrive at your destination and go to pick up your vehicle. However, you are told that their rental company doesn’t accept insurance bought in other countries. You are forced to pay an extra few hundred dollars because they only recognize their own and you are informed that you’ll be held responsible for any damage.


international car rental insurance white car

Suggested Read: Online Police Auctions Scam


10. Cheap Car Rentals Near Me

You come across an ad promoting super-low rates for a rental car service you have barely heard of. The promotion reads “Cheap Car Rentals Near Me” so you automatically assume the location is close. The offer seems good, but you want to make sure it really is $30 cheaper per day for the vehicle you want. You call the number.

They confirm the price is right, only that the location is not exactly very close. It doesn’t bother you since the deal is excellent money-wise, so off you go. However, when you get there, your car is unavailable. Since you’ve made all the effort of going there and are in a rental company office, you choose a different vehicle. It is a classic bait and switch scheme.

That’s when unwanted upgrades and insurance add-ons are stuck to your bill, making the final invoice even more expensive than it would have been at the most expensive rental companies.

Additional Scam: Odometer Rollback

This trick is exactly what it sounds like. Watch the video below to see how the rollback is done:

We hope the article sheds some light on how to deal with rental companies. Don’t get us wrong, most of them are legitimate and fair, but we just listed the deceptive practices that some of them perform.


Car Rental Scams: How To Report Them

Make your family and friends aware of these car rental scams by sharing the article on social media. You can also officially report the questionable auto dealerships to the Federal Trade Commission using the link below:

Report To The FTC Here

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selma hrynchuk
Selma HrynchukSenior Editor at Scam Detector Media, Selma is a fraud prevention specialist with a wealth of experience in private investigations and collaborations with law enforcement. A captivating public speaker, Selma educates audiences about scams and personal safety. Through her insightful writing, she exposes criminals and shares essential tips for staying secure. Selma is a dedicated guardian against fraud, committed to unmasking deception and promoting integrity.

12 thoughts on “10 Car Rental Scams That You Need To Avoid Today”

  1. Pavel A. Gonzalez

    This is the complaint I gave to Budget Car Rental: Look at the picture on the right, when I got the car. It was 7/8 (NO FULL). File # 20210113_170545.JPG. I showed it to the guy at the exit door. He did not fix it. He said, “hold down to that picture when you return it”. The car had 24,530 miles when I received the car. However, in the receipt (look at the budget receipt) they said that they gave me a car with a full tank and 4,557 Miles.
    Look at the picture at the left, I returned the car on 1/16/21 and took this picture at 9:22 am. The car had 24,749 miles, while the final Budget Receipt said 24,749 miles. It also said that I droved 20,192 miles in less than 3 days. 
    I had to deal with fraudulent institutions, but to do this to me. Now everything makes sense, all are part of the scheme; wrong mileage, car tank no full, no fixing it in the receipt, not receiving the car (leave the key and we will send you the receipt), the receipt said that the car is 6/8 instead of full (look at the mileage at the budget receipt 24,749 miles with 6/8 of a tank, and the picture with the same mileages 24,749 miles with a full tank. Look at the gas station receipt, I filled out the tank about 2.4 miles away from the car rental return with a full tank receipt, while I did not get it full.
    The Place is running a funny business with your name on the line. So many issues cannot be interpreted any different than a scheme. 
    Date: JAN 16,2021@10:00AM Return Location: 1000 RENTAL CAR DRIVE RALEIGH DURHAM AIRPORT MORRISVILLE,NC,27560,US. 919-840-4781 

  2. I used to work for one of the major rental car companies, and as I read through these 10 scams I realized that these are primarily from small rental car companies. The major companies make sure that everything is on the up and up with their contracts. What struck me was number one and number nine.

    1.) Purchasing CDW or LDW should always be optional; although, I recommend it. However, the real scam here is on the part of the credit card companies. First, they only cover you as primary if your insurance coverage is liability only. If you have full coverage, then you are not covered by the credit card. If you do have full coverage, then you need to make sure that your insurance will transfer to rental cars. Something else to be aware of is that debit cards are not credit cards, even if they have Visa or Mastercard on them. You will need to verify with Visa or Mastercard if they will cover you through your debit card. Only the credit card you pay with will cover you. If you use a credit card to put a hold on the reservation, and then pay with a debit card, cash or check when you return the car then the credit card company will not take any responsibility. I recommend to always pay with the same credit card you used to make the reservation. Lastly, credit card companies have a lot of fine print that will allow them to get out of paying. There was a man who rented a Chevy Astro van, and he declined the CDW because his credit card company told him that they would cover minivans. The van got damaged when a rock busted out the windshield. He called his credit card company and they said, "Sure we will cover that for you. What kind of van was it?" He told them that it was a Chevy Astro van, and they said, "O, we’re sorry, the Astro is built on a truck chassis, and we don’t cover trucks."

    9.) If you are traveling internationally then most credit card companies claim to cover you as the primary regardless if you have full coverage or liability only. Therefore, you should be covered. Again, read the fine print before you rent. My recommendation is to always purchase the CDW/LDW rather driving locally or internationally, and especially if you are driving internationally. In a foreign country you do not know the driving laws or practices of the people. Why not pay the extra money for a waiver so that you can enjoy your trip rather than worrying about a car that you don’t own? Remember, you are responsible for the vehicle while it is in your care, custody, and control. This means that any damage to the car, regardless if you caused the damage, is your responsibility.

    This is my two cents based on my personal experience.

  3. So I drove for Uber and signed a rental car agreement with a certain company. That company charged me deposit + rental fee, and after I checked my online banking app, the amount was deducted. All fine, and again my rental fees were deducted next week.

    What I didn’t know was they said these were apparently "hold" and will be paid back to me- which is false as money was systematically taken from my account as I checked my online app.

    But after I returned the car, they AGAIN billed me around 900+. Upon pointing out that they ALREADY took my money, they said: "Oh it was only a "hold" and was paid back electronically." Which wasn’t.

    So basically I got double charged. My bank didn’t respond to dispute. And the "hold" money somehow disappeared mysteriously like a ghost sum.

  4. We were the victims of another type of rental scam. We booked a flight from a well known Canadian airline on their website to the UK. and a pop up came on advertising low cost car rental through a compamy called Rental cars .com. It offered a car at a low rate via an established well known company (Enterprise /Alamo) so we filled out an online form and payed via credit card for a 3 week rental. A confirmation number popped up and I wrote it down. Uppon arrival in the UK (flight on schedule) We proceeded to the car rental company counter to obtain the car, reciting out names and the "confirmation number" We were then infomed that said number and our names were not on the database and no car was available . After a brief verbal exchange we proceeded to the Avis counter and rented a car for over 4 times the previous ammount. We informed our credit card comany straight awaty and the original ammount of the none supplied car was refunded, we assumed this was the last of it. However on arrival home 3 weeks later, the ammount had been re-charged to our card as Rentalcars .com had told the credit card company that we had not shown up for the car so as per the tearms of rental were entitled to charge us for a rental we had not recieved. We have over 4 hours in phone calls to the credit card company (capitol one) who have not rembursed us with the fraudulently obtained ammount. I advise anyone who is considering booking a car rental online to use extreeme caution to avoid the stress and trouble we are going through as a result of Retalcars.com dishonest actions.

  5. My mini van had been stolen and I was covered for a courtesy car. So I got to Hertz Car Rental in Abbotsford B.C and this being my first time ever renting a car I hadn’t a clue what was the proper options I should sign for when filling the forms out. I have a difficult time understanding my own insurance etc.. for the most part. So I had figured taking there advice on getting the full coverage I believe to be LDW.. I was told by the man who handed me the keys and filled out all forms with before getting into rental car had told me that LDw covers me for accidents and pick up if I had dropped it off at another location etc.. there lack of communication with there renters is huge cause all they do is send text messages not once have I received an actual phone call from them. So with my phones screen being broken text messages couldn’t be read. Besides the point getting of track of what had happened I had family issues that took me out of town 3/4 half hrs drive cell service was picky choosy. After putting my ph chip in another ph I seen a message that the rental was to b returned to the nearest location or they would have to take actions reporting it stolen. I had tried calling the number serval times to speak to someone about the issue it would put me on hold then hang up on me each time. So I messaged back stateing when I’d have it back and that there would be no need to report it. Still hadn’t heard anything from them after that. I filled up the gas and took it through car wash and cleaned it and dropped it off at nearest location and went inside and gave the keys to the man at that location and asked if he could email me any paper work I needed of proof for myself and there business of drop off. When I got home 3 days after that I got 2 letters from hertz in the mail first one a bill that is mind blowing overly charged for everything I was told I was covered for. Being charged for damage wavier ldw/edp $1322.51
    Fuel purchase option $67.45 ( now that I am typing this I remember I had even said yes to having them fill the tank for me cause then man had told me it would be cheaper) even then, I do have the receipt to prove I had filled the tank and washed the car before dropping it off. GST/TPS $98.57
    vehicle license fee $6.44
    Tax $40.70
    Towing $100.00
    (Days of rental 50)
    ICBC billed and covered pay $736.15
    Remaining days bilked to me making $575.00
    They’ve printed my total charges $2946.82 minus what was cover by Icbc and $300.00 I had put done as deposit. Leaving me owing them $1910.67 for all them bull@#*@ charges that they said I would be covered for. Very upset and unsure how I can proceed to deal with this. It’s more then what I got paid out for my van that got stolen. I was told hertz was a stand up loyal company with a good name going for them caring about those who use there services. Poor people skills and lack of communication.. I haven’t a clue what to do. I’m a single mother on a low income barely making it day to day as is . If anyone has advice or believe can help. Please
    thank you, amen

  6. We feel that we need to spread the word about the Orlando Cars Club Rental. AVOID!!! This is the worst experience with a rental of any type we have ever had. It started at the airport when we called for a pick up. No one even answered the phone for several calls and we ended up waiting at least 40 min. Then we had to pay 7.99 a day to rent a sunpass and we were renting for 35 days so that was $280 US ($383 Canadian) and we only went through about 6 or 7 tolls in total. ( If we didn’t rent a sunpass the tolls were $30 a toll plus the price of the toll. )

    We went to the rental office the day before our return flight to make sure someone would be there for 7 am the next morning since our international flight was at 10. The guy at the desk said he would be there at 7 . Well no one showed up until 8:05 so we were already panicked. Then the lady who arrived saw a very small mark on the car (about the size of a dime) and said she had to wait for the manager who got there about 8:15. The manager said they could charge us up to $3000, and he ended up charging us $800 US ($1096 Canadian) for this dime sized mark and then we had to fill out paperwork. It was such a stressful experience to know that you are being taken and they have you because you are going to miss your flight. We barely got to the gate on time!!!

    Their site advertises in big print that THERE ARE NO HIDDEN FEES. Besides the sunpass scam there was also a hidden charge of 6.32 a day, which we have no idea what that was for.

    This nightmare experience put a dark cloud over an otherwise great vacation. Never again will we rent from Clubs and we plan to spread the word.

    Wish I could attach a photo of the dime sizes mark. It was so tiny and there were so many spots on the car that we hadn’t even noticed it. Actually a lot of the black rubbed off on my sweater, so once it is cleaned I wonder how much of a mark is even there.

    Our rental which was supposed to cost 1000 cost us over $2600. Please share to spread the word so that others don’t get scammed by this company.

    I’ve registered a complaint with the Better Business Company but they didn’t even respond.

  7. Dishonest Enterprise is trying to say I damaged the vehicle I rented. I drove it from Houston to Galveston, parked for 5 days, drove home, unloaded suitcase, refilled tank then returned. They looked over, No damage. An employee got in vehicle and took me to pick up my car then, with someone else in the car, they both went to an ATM and who knows whatever. I received a letter saying car needed an alignment and new tire. $689.00! Wouldn’t I know if I hit a huge hole and had major damage. I did return to different location but shouldn’t matter. I did not feel car was out of alignment at all when driving. What do I do? This was Enterprise car rental, 27734 highway 249, Tomball Tx

  8. fraud with Enterprise Car Rental in Tampa, charged a deductible 500.00, not my insurance company claiming non existent damages which were not true…

  9. RIP off…Geico rented car for me Enterprise Car Rental, picked up car at Jerry Ulm collusion center, Hillsborough Ave, Tampa, Fl , I was called my car was ready, not even 5 hours later, never drive the car , only from my home to the lot straight shot, returned car, I had checked car again, NO damages, next day Enterprise called the driver bumper was damaged…not true, next day after reporting to my Insurance GEICO, of SCAM..GEICO advised..they would start an investigation, but ENTERPRISE deducted unauthorized 500.00 deductable with NO authorization even from GEICO my insurance company. this a total RIP off! can’t even pay my rent now! not fair!

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