Car Rental: To Prepay Or Not To Prepay

Car rental agencies always want you to confirm your rental as early as is possible. That’s why a lot of them have an option where you can prepay at the time of booking the car. You can pay the entire amount or a significant percentage of the amount online. While it may seem like a large chunk of money to block before your trip, it may have some benefits. There are other factors to consider too.


Prepaying helps you save money now and stress later. Knowing how much your rental is going to cost, allows you to plan and budget the trip effectively. Prepaying can also get you a 10-15% ‘thank you’ discount from the rental agency.

Changing Details

Once you prepay for your car rental, there’s no going back. Agencies usually don’t allow you to make any changes once you’ve paid for their services. Some may let you do so, but it’s likely to be a complicated and lengthy process.


In case you need to cancel your rental after prepaying, you may be in for some disappointment. You may get a partial refund, or more likely, no refund. Either way, you’re definitely going to be charged a cancellation fee. So if you need to cancel, do it as far in advance as possible. There’s usually a $25 fee for cancellations over 24 hours ahead of car pickup time. Within 24 hours, that fee could be hiked up to $50. And these are just the average rates.

Changing Rates

The car rental rates vary on a daily basis. Something that looks very expensive today could become reasonably priced tomorrow. The smart thing to do is to check the rates every day. Some sites that aggregate rental rates can help you find the best deals on the market.

If you are considering the prepay option, then always remember to check the rates with multiple agencies. You can check them online or if you prefer, you can call and speak to them as well. In case you’re using an aggregator, then that site is likely to have links that will provide information specific to each vendor.

In Conclusion

An important thing to do is to check the total price of the rental and not just the price per day. Different agencies structure their rates in a different manner. So, understand all the terms, conditions, and cancellation policies. It may look like some agency is offering very low per-day rates, but they may tack on high fees and taxes later to make the final amount exorbitant.

Third-party sites like aggregators are helpful because they let you see all the details from multiple rental agencies in one place. A good one will also make it easy to find all the fees, charges, terms, and conditions that each agency uses. You’re also likely to find a rate that fits your budget. And browsing these sites is usually quite easy.

And once you find one that works, we get to that original question regarding prepayment. If there is no chance of your trip getting canceled, then, by all means, go ahead and prepay. You’ll definitely have a car waiting for you, and you’ll be able to spend less time at the agency because you’ve already completed the most important step of the process.