How Car Rental Companies Rip You Off With Extra Fees For Linking To Your Frequent Flier Reward Program

Ever had a bad car rental experience where you felt ripped off? Then read on, my friend.

Here is a recent example where I felt deceived after an Avis car rental experience. While the unexpected amount on my bill was not that much, the way I found out about the extra charges felt very unfair and deceptive.

If you have had a similar story or experience to share, please leave it in the comments below this article to save someone else from getting ripped off.

Unknown Fees After Returning the Car

Auto rental companies and booking sites (like Costco Rental, or Expedia) are required to disclose any vehicle charges and taxes. So in most cases you can see a relatively accurate representation of your rate with standard fees and associated state and local taxes.

However rental companies have figured out how to sneak in some devious post-booking fees such as extra security fees, tourism or toll surcharge fees and even battery fees for increasingly popular EV (mainly Tesla) rentals.

I saw an example of this when I rented a car from Avis and saw a line item with the description, “FTP SR$ 1.50DY” on the final receipt after returning the car and realized that it added around $15 more to my bill than what I was quoted for when I booked the car.

I had no idea what this fee was and it wasn’t on my booking estimate. So I googled it and found this is a daily surcharge rental (SR) fee for Frequent Traveler Program (FTP) that are linked to the car rental’s loyalty program.

This fee has been around for a while but is still creating a bit of ruckus online since it was introduced by Avis and I assume other rental companies like Hertz. This is why they promote linking their loyalty programs to frequent flier programs like those from United, America, Delta and the like.

By linking the reward program it allows them to charge a completely unnecessary fee and fatten their bottom line.

Imagine how many renters face this issue for what is simply an automatic transaction and data feed between the various loyalty systems for exchanging points. At worst it only costs them a few cents, but are likely raking in millions via this and similar fees.

Now I understand online booking portals may not know these fees, since they are not aware of my frequent flier status, but Avis should disclose this clearly at every booking when I have linked my frequent flier account to their Avis Wizard loyalty program.

It may factor in my decision to go with them because rental car prices tend to be very uniform in major metros. It’s probably there in the fine print, but feels like another shady fee!

RESOLUTON and or Advice – So I did call Avis customer support and they explained this was a standard fee and they could not reverse it after the rental was complete. They were sorry and directed me to the very fine print on their contract.

For $15 bucks I was not going to spend more than an hour on this, but Avis just lost my future business with this deceptive practice.

At least the 500 miles I got from the rental allowed me to get 2-hrs of internet on my flight, during which I wrote and posted this article! 

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