Extending Your Car Rental, Returning it Early, Late Fees

How to arrange for it, is it allowed and are there fees or penalties?


Should I buy additional rental car insurance in Hawaii ?

Early Returns | Late Returns & Grace Periods | Overstays & Extensions | Rate Changes | Failure to cancel


When you’ve made the choice to rent a vehicle for your Hawaiian vacation, you’ll have simplified your transportation needs greatly. However, it’s important to know there are a variety of rules and regulations that go along with your rental. Sometimes, things will come up that may prevent you from returning your rental on time. By being aware of this and knowing your options, you’ll be prepared during your trip should this situation arise.

Many times as a car rental customer you may need to extend the time or even return a vehicle early. Sometimes you're simply an hour or two late. This can be for several reasons such as delayed flights, having to return early for work or family related reasons; or you simply want to leave at a different time or day than you had originally planned. You should understand there may be fees and panalties involved with such a change of plans. Generally defined, early return is a pretty set definition. But how about late returns, overstays and overtime? Are they the same thing? To some companies they are. But it seems others are fine-tuning and separating them.

What is an Early Return?

Customers sometimes return their vehicle earlier than they had originally planned. An early return is a day or more early. Believe it or not, if you are returning the rental vehicle a day or more earlier than was originally planned, there may be fees associated with an early return. It’s important to contact the car rental company if you would like to return the vehicle early and to ask about any additional fees and how much they are, if any.

What is a Late Return? Is there a "Grace Period"?

It’s important to remember that all policies and procedures will vary depending on the rental service you choose, but there are some general rules you can remember. A late return is when you return the vehicle a little later in the day than you had originally promised. Perhaps this is an hour or several hours.

Rental agencies rent their vehicles on a relatively tight schedule, so a late return could essentially throw off an entire day’s operations and also upset arriving customers if the car they expected is not available. Since rental cars are sometimes tightly scheduled, especially during holiday or peak usage times, you will almost always be charged a penalty for late returns.

Some companies give you a grace period, other do not. Free grace periods for late returns will rarely extend longer than an hour in duration if allowed at all. Some are 29 minutes or less. It's rarely as much as an hour anymore. After that, you are charged at least by the hour.

Some companies charge 1/3 to 1/2 of the daily rate per additional hour (or fraction thereof) for every hour the vehicle is late, not to exceed the daily rate. So if the car is brought back two or three hours late, the late return charge would be for an additional day. It seems when a penalty goes from an hourly fee to a fraction of the daily rate, it has now transformed itself from a late fee to an overstay penalty. Please note that late fees and overstay penalties are not the same thing.

You may think, "I may as well keep the car and return it the next day if at the three hour mark I'm charged for a whole day." This may or may not be advantageous to you, but always call the company you rented from to find out the exact details and fees associated with such a decision. These days, as tight as the car companies are having to coordinate rentals, you may not only be charged for the additional hours or daily rate, you may also be assessed an overstay penalty. Because you are potentially causing a severe disruption to their business that day, you will be faced with a number of different charges to compensate for this inconvenience. Grace periods, as you may now be aware, are not quite as simple as many assume.

We always recommend, to be safe, to thoroughly read the contract that is provided to you by your rental agency. It will clearly explain the company’s regulations when it comes to grace periods and late fees, and you’ll know exactly what to expect should you run into a situation where a late return is unavoidable. Be aware of the grace period allotted to you by your company and do your best to stick to it. Read your contract and also always ask if you have any questions about late returns. It's also a good idea to call the location you're planning on from and ask as many questions as necessary.

After three days late, companies may assign a "Loss Prevention Group" to assess the situation and assess a $50 "recovery charge" penalty.

Grace Periods, Late Return Policies and Fees

Avis Saddle Road Policies Budget Saddle Road Policies Dollar Saddle Road Policies Thrifty Saddle Road Policies Enterprise Saddle Road Policies
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Late Return / Extension Fees:          
Late Return Policies:          

What is an Overstay or Entension?

Extending a car rental, also known as an overstay, is when a customer has a rental vehicle and wants to keep it for a longer period of time, usually by a day or more. This is called an extension or overstay. If you need an extension on your rental car it’s important to call the rental car company to do so. First you will need to see if you can actually book your particular rental car for the additional time you need the vehicle. It may already be promised and rented out. Many times companies will have your rental vehicle booked for another customer the same day you are scheduled to return it. In this case, there is no leeway and you will be required to return the car or pay a penalty. One reason there is a penalty is because the person who is scheduled to get the automobile next may have to be given a more expensive model at the same rate as the lesser model. Thus, the company loses out on that extra rate. So please be aware that there may be an overstay fee if you extend the rental a day or more, sometimes by as little as 3 hours or more. It’s important to ask the rental car company about the late or overstay fee or any other penalties involved before you decide to extend your time.

Are you confused? Is an Overstay Fee the Same as a Late or Overtime Fee?

Well, these terms can be confusing. It seems some companies are now defining "late," "overtime" and "overstay" as the same thing, others are not. It's a bit blurry. But what is not blurry is whether you call it late, overstay or overtime, there is always a cost involved. We suggest checking with the company location you are reserving from to have them let you know their late, overtime, and overstay policy and fees are.

Can There be Rate Changes if I Extend a Rental?

Yes, You may also find a change in rate for the days you extend your agreement. This information is important to know before you decide to extend your contract. In regards to an early return, there may be an early return fee if you bring the car back a day or more earlier than it was originally reserved.

No-Shows or Non-Cancellation Fees - Failure to cancel or show up for your reservation:

There is no fee or penalty at this time. However, some companies (not us) require a credit card number and/or pre-payment of your rental. They may assess a fee if you do not cancel or show up. Cancellation fees can be in the neighborhood of $10 or an entire day's rental charge plus taxes, fees and surcharges. No-show fees can be as high as $100.

Because of the nature of the way reservations are made via the www.HawaiiCarRentals.net website, and since there is neither a pre-payment nor credit card number required to make a reservation, there are no fees or penalties assessed if you do not show up to pick up your rental car. Since giving a credit card number is not required, there is no way to charge you. However, every rental car company would really appreciate knowing if you are not going to show up to get the car. Always cancel your reservation at least 24 hours in advance if you are unable to pick up your vehicle. Here's how to Cancel Your Reservation with Hawaii Car Rental.

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