Rental car giant Hertz has discreetly rolled out a significant change in their policies, introducing the imposition of no-show fees across a wide swath of bookings. In the world of rental cars, it’s been a long-standing tradition that direct bookings seldom entail no-show fees, except for prepaid reservations where cancellation or changes are off the table, and the full amount is non-refundable.
However, Hertz has very quietly changed the rules in a very big way, now requiring payment for a complete day at the base rate if a customer fails to show up. The recently added language in the fine print at checkout unequivocally states, “Reservations must be cancelled prior to pick-up time or will be subject to a $111.29 USD No-Show Fee. A valid credit card must be presented at the time of rental to complete the reservation.” (Substitute the $111.29 with 1x the daily rate)
An additional blow comes for those utilizing Hertz Gold Plus Rewards points for their bookings. In the event of a no-show, the points are refunded, but the customer is charged at the prevailing cash base rate—ouch.
One might argue, “Well, I won’t find myself in that situation. I’m responsible and would never no-show on a rental car reservation.” But consider this scenario: imagine being stuck on a delayed flight without reliable Wi-Fi, unable to cancel your reservation before the no-show fee kicks in. Or maybe your travel day was hectic, and your rental car was the last thing on your mind. It’s a risk not worth taking.
The prevalence of rental car shortages during the pandemic led many to get in the habit of securing backup reservations with alternative rental companies in case their preferred choice failed to come through for them. However, I’d now advise to end that practice to avoid being charged a potentially significant amount of money.
We normally advise against using an OTA to book most travel. However, an interim solution here could be booking through an OTA like Costco Travel or Autoslash, currently exempt from this policy shift. Yet, a word of caution: this exemption might change without notice, so always check carefully during the booking process.
Notably, Hertz’s subsidiaries Dollar and Thrifty have yet to implement this policy change. Thrifty’s website explicitly states, “No cancellation fees apply if you choose the ‘Most Flexible’ payment option.” However, it wouldn’t be surprising if this policy change permeates across these entities in the future.
The implications of this move by Hertz raise questions about the industry as a whole. Will competitors like AvisBudget Group and Enterprise
Holdings Mobility follow suit? Again, it’s critical to read carefully while booking, as policies can shift rapidly without warning – and if Hertz is any indication, it’s unlikely these policies will exactly be announced via a flashing neon sign.
The decline in Hertz’s services has been a topic of discussion, particularly after the company was sold to Apollo Global Management amidst pandemic-induced financial struggles. Instances of renters being wrongfully arrested due to Hertz renting out cars previously reported stolen, as well as difficulties in honoring reservations, have marred the company’s reputation. The recent alteration in points expiration policy from 18 to 12 months, without prior notice, further highlights the tumultuous changes within the company.