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Which Rental Car Fuel Policy Should I Choose?

girl putting gas in car

Once you’ve decided which type of car will get you from A to B during your rental period, you’ll need to think about that vital sustenance for your vehicle… your fuel.

The cost of fuel is not included in your rental car rate, so you need to know which policy will provide the best value for money. This part of the rental hunting process leads many car hirers to ask themselves exactly what a fair fuel policy means. Simply, you don’t want to pay for gas that you’re not going to use, so you need to find a policy that matches your travel plans. Are you going to be driving a lot or very little? Are local pump prices high in your driving destination?

In this chapter, we’ll outline the most commonly known fuel policies in the car rental industry, so that you can decide which one is most suited to your travel arrangements.

Which Fuel Policies Can I Choose From?

  • Full to full
  • Full to empty
  • Empty to empty

Policy TypePolicy DescriptionAdvantagesDisadvantages

Full to full

  • The gas tank will be full when you collect your vehicle. You can use as much fuel as you need and then refill the tank when you drop the vehicle off at the end of your rental period. As long as you replace the fuel before returning the car, you won’t face any extra fees
  • You only refill the amount of fuel that you’ve used. If you only use half a tank, you’ll only need to refill half a tank, and therefore avoid paying for fuel you don’t need.
  • You won’t pay more than local fuel prices
  • You will only pay refueling fees or service charges if you don’t refill the tank
  • You will have to find a gas station that is open and close to the drop-off location

Full to empty
(pre-paid)

  • You’ll pay for a full tank of fuel and return the car with an empty tank. Check with the provider if they will refund you for any unused fuel
  • You won’t need to find a petrol station near your rental drop-off location
  • You might pay a higher rate for the tank than you would filling up in a local gas station

Empty to empty

  • You will not have a full tank of fuel when you collect the vehicle and you don’t need to refill the gas when you drop it back off
  • You will refill your tank yourself, so you won’t pay more than local pump prices
  • You’ll need to locate a gas station as soon as you collect the car

Which Fuel Policy Should I Get?

We usually recommend that customers opt for the full-to-full policy, since attempting to drop off the vehicle with an empty tank can be tricky to gauge, and you run the risk of completely running out of fuel before you get to your drop-off location. You might also find that with the pre-paid (full-to-empty) option, the rental company might charge a higher rate per liter than a local gas station does, and they may not refund you for the fuel you don’t use, if you return the car with some gas left in the tank. Unless you know that there is a gas station very close to your pickup location, the full-to-full policy also beats the empty-to-empty policy in terms of convenience.

The information provided in this guide was accurate at the time of publication but is subject to change at any time. Please check your car rental company’s terms for the latest information.

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