Rental Cars

Thrifty Car Rental really upset me this time – back to Hertz for me!

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Before my last mileage run, I took a day off to visit some friends down in Tucson. I always try to burn points whenever I can over cash. I am a Thrifty Blue Chip member and have the points for the car to my American AAdvantage account as I need a few more points to get 2 first class tickets to Sweden some day soon on their product. I paid 2200 Ultimate Rewards points that I got from my last INK PLUS card and that equates to $27.50 cents for the rental for a midsize car. Not an outstanding value, but it worked for me and I picked a Chrysler 200 and it was a great car and fun to drive.

But one thing that I have never seen before and that just made me mad as a hornet was the HUGE yellow tag (plus the one on the rental paperwork jacket itself above) that warned me that since I had said NO to the pre-pay gas that I would have to bring a receipt to PROVE that the tank was not just full, but that it was fueled in a station less than 10 miles from the rental location!

And then, when I look at the fine print on the rental form, if the above is not done, I can or must use their refueling service at $9.29 per gallon. SAY WHAT? My blog is PG13 but that almost made me puke and say things I should not! Seriously Thrifty?!?

I have had nothing but outstanding and amazing experience from Hertz. I love my Hertz GOLD. I have had the worst ever rental from Budget and have never ever rented from them since (nor will I ever again)!

I would love to know, have you seen this from Thrifty before or any other rental place? Does it upset you or would it make you not rent from the company again? Comment please on the blog! – René


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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.


  1. Thanks for the warning. We have a week long rental coming up and we’ll be sure to stay away from Thrifty.

  2. I have seen this recently on couple of rental companies. Unfortunately I believe this is a policy that is going to spread. My experiences have been mixed. Depending on the agent you return the car to, the policy is either enforced or when they see that the tank is in fact full, they don’t even ask for the receipt.
    As always, been aware of the rules and expect them to be enforced.

  3. I had that happen at Budget at PHL. It was horrible. I had tossed the receipt at the gas station. They charged me anyway. After I called and complained, they reduced the charge to $25 dollars. They lost me as a renter forever. I am now a Hertz only renter. They have a great rewards program as well a great consistent service.

  4. several rental companies but not all locations have been doing this for the past 2 years!! don’t get crazy over it…just make it a point to read the contract!!

  5. I was told by the Thrifty representative that if I returned the car full I would not be charged. I did and I was. I have requested a refund. We’ll see.

  6. Thrifty is my “never again” rental company. Back when minivans were the new thing, I reserved one with Thrifty, and they demanded a $100 deposit to reserve (Christmas travel season). When we arrived, there was no minivan – in fact, no cars at all! They hung on to the $100 deposit though for over a month of phone calls and written complaints.

  7. Gordon parker Reply

    I saw this in Dayton OH with National last year.
    Had a rental for 1 meeting for 2 hours.
    If you rent less then 1 day, you must show proof of gas purchase. However you could have showed any receipt as they don’t really look.

  8. Yes, I have encountered this in Europe at other rental car companies besides Thrifty a few times recently. I can’t remember which companies it’s happened at in the US. It doesn’t upset me because I tend to keep all receipts anyway. In Italy, you must keep your receipt from a restaurants/shops for at least 100 yards after leaving – now that one is odd!

  9. This is becoming very common. I haven’t seen it with the big two, but Enterprise, Budget, Thrifty, Fox, etc. it is now pretty common.

    On the other hand, I rarely have the person checking in the car ask for the receipt. In my experience, they are going to ask if you have driven a small amount of miles on the rental. When you have 300 miles or more they know you have refilled the tank and not tried to sneak the car back without topping up.

    Take a deep breath. You do return the car with a full tank and don’t try to cheat the system, but other people do.

  10. This is a now fairly common practice, your outrage is misplaced, although Thrifty leaves plenty of other opportunities for it. Read your Hertz or Avis paperwork and airport signs more carefully next time, its at many (if not all) their locations, as well. The difference is they are reasonable where Thrifty is more likely to slam the charge, but the policy of showing a receipt is the same. Worse part is if you take a step back, you can see their request/requirement has a lot of business sense given the creeping price of gas, and standard abuse by customers to stretch the policy of what is full.

  11. In my experiences it’s pretty standard for Avis and Budget to request your receipt, although 9 times out of 10 they don’t. What I usually do, is write the mileage on the top of the receipt when I return to the airport, that way I know that I have it (I have usually tossed the rental jacket long before)

  12. The last I remember I’ve had the person asking for the receipt while checking in the car at Budget at ORD. It took us forever to find a gas station “nearby” as well.

  13. Friends don’t let friends rent Thrifty…or Dollar. And that’s not just because of the fuel receipt thing. They have to be much cheaper, as in at least $100 dollars, cheaper than anyone else before I will think about renting from them…. and that’s not a sure bet price difference for me either.

  14. PointsObsession Reply

    Yes, Thrifty @ PHL does the same thing although there is a Wawa gas station about a mile away and they have never asked me for the receipt. I share you sentiments and would really be PO’d if they had enforced it!

  15. What’s the big deal? They’re asking you to prove you’re bringing the car back with close to a full tank (as opposed to filling up 50 miles away and screwing the next driver because the tank still reads F even after you drive that amount).

  16. I have had problems with getting cars that the tank is not full – it shows full but it is not or it is “sorta” full. Thrifty and any other car rental company should have to prove to the renter that the tank really is full because they (specifically National in my experience) stretch the policy of what is full.

  17. It is what it is. Probably was put in place because of abuse by others. That said, we all have horror stories about rental cars. My standards practice is to note the nearest gas station on my way out of the airport, fillup there on the way back, reset the trip odometer to 0.0. Now I will also take a photo of both the trip and regular odometer, maybe even with the receipt in the regular odometer photo. Always remember the secret to success, “Shoot the bull, pass the buck and document everything.” Or if you’re with the IRS, forget everything and plead the fifth!

  18. Return the car dressed in business attire with visibility full tank and they’ll never ask. Dropped a car at FLL in beach-like attire and Budget wanted that “10 mile proof”.

  19. The counter rep at SFO Budget told me I would need to fill the car up within two (2) miles of the airport…he was pushing their bring-it-back-empty deal. Even though I had reserved the car in advance with my RapidRez / Fastbreak number, he tried to entice me with every option they had.

    I filled it in Millbrae before heading back to SFO, which is probably only about 2 miles from the airport (but chosen because I needed to visit someone there), and nobody ever asked for the receipt.

  20. This is fairly common in my experience. I’ve never had it enforced so far. But I can’t think of a time I’ve ever refueled and it wasn’t that close to the airport, and I always keep the receipt anyway. So in practice, not a big deal and not worth getting worked up over. That said, it is a lame, cheapskate policy.

  21. Had this happen to me late November near SFO. Car was only on 3/4 when I picked it up so I really squawked about them trying to make me supply a full tank when it hadn’t been full when I started. I had gassed up in northern San Fran on my way back into town so I was slightly out of the ten miles but I did have the receipt. They looked it over carefully. I told them I would not be paying. Luckily I had made them notate on the checkout form. Also my savvy sister in law snapped pix of every little mark on the car before we left. They mentioned a front bumper mark to me. I offered them a picture show and that also was dropped. No charges showed up later on my card, but I was left with a pretty bad taste over the whole thing.

  22. MSPDeltaDude Reply

    How about this for some common sense…During the USAir Grand Slam I rented a car @ the DEN Thrifty. I pulled out and right back into the car return. I tried explaining what I was doing, but I think that only made it worse. Went less then .25 miles and checked back in less then 3min and STILL wanted a receipt. Had to get a manager involved. NEVER AGAIN

  23. That’s what happens when too many people are dishonest about the fuel in the car they are returning. Abuse the system and the system fights back.

  24. Thrifty in LA in January was the first time I have been hit with that requirement, never on other rental companies. I thought it was a LA thing. Just took car out for maybe 15 miles over 2 hours, – Cost me like $3.00 to fill up around the corner on the return. Luckily there a few options even though it was in a shadyish area.

  25. What they said ^^^. This is fairly common practice and I’ve seen it with all of the smaller rental companies and recently at both Avis and Hertz in Columbus and Nashville. I’ve only ever been asked to produce the receipt when I’ve driven less than 50 miles.

  26. I have found it to be quite common for most rental places to say that you need to show your receipt if you drive fewer than 75 miles. However, the requirement about where the station needs to be is crazy.

  27. That’s absolutely stupid. You should open a report with the bbb

  28. Jen Goecke Reply

    I have seen this many many times at lots of car rental companies.

  29. Well, I guess you fly a lot but don’t often rent vehicles. This has been standard practice with the Avis-Budget group for quite some time. It is occasionally enforced,so you need to keep handy the gas receipt.

    I believe this started when gas prices spiked a few years ago and people were returning cars with the tank less than full … but with the gas gauge showing full. Either they then short the next customer or top off tank themselves and incur the cost … so it’s not an unfair policy IMO. However, they should be upfront about it when picking up the vehicle.

    I don’t often rent from Dollar and rarely rent from Thrifty, so I don’t know how widespread this is with these companies. As Hertz now owns Dollar-Thrifty, it might eventually spread to Hertz, as well.

  30. What’s the problem? Fill up just before returning as you should. Even if they want the receipt and you don’t have it, let them try to fill it up. It’ll be full and you won’t be charged. Now if you’re filling it up close to full and hoping to get away with saving yourself a couple dollars and passing it along to the next customer, I have no compassion (not to mention respect) for you.

    • @Ben – I think you miss my point. I always fill till it is 100% full. I mean can not squeeze anther drop. But, I may do it the night before flight at a gas station near hotel. It may or may not be 10 miles from rental place. But, if that full, even if I drive say 20 miles, it will still be a “full” tank of gas (and I bet I am not alone in this)!

  31. I have the same experience with Thrifty at Las Vegas McCarran airport. First, they require receipt proof for gasoline purchases within 10 miles of the airport. Second, they dinged me for an extra day fee and extra hour fee (about $14) for being 10 minutes late. I technically was on time. My car return time was 3:30pm. I arrived at 3:25pm. Waited 10+ minutes for the attendant to check my car in, so the return time on the receipt ended up being 3:40pm. I explained my situation to the car rental desk. They credited me back the fees but no apology whatsoever. Not a good way to build customer relation in my honest opinion.

  32. Yes I just did – this past week in Honolulu. Funny thing was that we showed the receipt upon our return and the young lady checking us out did not seem to care that we had the receipt. She barely looked at it, even after my husband explained why he was showing it to her. But I agree with your feelings about it. As long as the tank is full, it should not matter where I fill up.

  33. Peter Silberman Reply

    I have had this at hertz, dollar and avis.

    I always tell the receiving agent that i filled the car and have the receipt, if they want to see it. I have only had a couple want to see it. In LAS, the posted policy is a charge if you drive less than 75 mles and dont show he fill receipt.

  34. Had this at a HLE in Miami in March and GFK Hertz in December. What’s the problem with showing that anyway? Pressing Yes to the receipt doesn’t seem like an inconvenience so I feel there’s something else to do

  35. I don’t use Thrifty, but I suspect that not only full, but requiring a receipt is becoming a common part of the fine print with most auto rental agencies. Overkill in my view! Having been thoroughly [edit] by another company a couple of years ago, these days I insist that the agent and I jointly inspect the vehicle – and the fuel gauge – before departure and upon return, and jointly initial any notes. If they get snooty about fuel at the departure end, a few times I’ve asked them to write “No fuel service charge if returned with fuel of [fill-in reading] or more,” and then sign it, including their employee number. Why do they do it? I don’t know. My rental habits are probably not typical; A short, day or two rental is rare – I generally need a week or more and I avoid airport rental locations like the plague due to the frequent “Airport location surcharges” and/or taxes. I’ve had excellent luck (price, service and zero bull s**t with two or three **independent** AVIS agents in the most often visited cities. They have far more wiggle room than do the corporate locations and, in two of my three cities, I deal with the agency’s owner at the counter. I suppose it helps that I’ve never wrinkled one of their cars and return them FULL after a 10-day rental, regardless of the departure reading. Your mileage and needs may vary, but, when possible, establishing a relationship with the agency’s owner is worth a little effort.

  36. I was asked for this by Alamo 15 years ago!

    But the thing is, it’s all [edit]. Just because I visited a gas station 5 miles away doesn’t mean I filled the tank. I could just have filled it until the gauge reads full — which might really be a long way from being full actually. In fact, some of the newer gauges just show eighths, so there is a LOT of leeway if you want to [edit] the next guy.

    I usually overfill the tank — like practically coming out of the overflow hose — 10 or 15 miles out of the airport. By the time I get there it’s still probably much more full than the typical full tank.

  37. I think that car rental agencies in general are trying to find ways to make extra bucks. The first is by charging customers for normal wear and tear on rental cars. The second is through gas scams. I think they want to make it such a hassle that you will pay for the “prepaid full tank”. I also think that you need to double check your receipt to make sure no additional insurance coverage was added.

  38. Interesting blog and as always, lots of opinions. I only had a gas receipt requirement within XX number of miles (don’t remember if it was 5 or 9 miles from airport) once. That was at BDL with Budget about one year ago. Fortunately, I had read the fine print and had my receipt. i agree, more car rental companies will start requiring receipts within a specific perimeter of the return center. Ii assume it is because drivers have different opinions as to what is full and want to save money by purchasing gas several miles away from airports where gas can be more expensive.

  39. I don’t understand the problem. Most gas stations are pay at the pump. You use your appropriate rewards credit card, fill the tank before you return the car, and the pump spits out a receipt. If they want to see it, what’s the problem, you have it! The only people this would impact are the freeloaders who try to take advantage of certain models out there that show “FULL” even when you have driven 50 miles or whatever. FYI – Hertz owns Thrifty and Dollar. Just like Avis owns Budget. And National owns Alamo and Enterprise. To a certain extent, it seems that Hertz, Avis, and National are the brands marketed to corporate accounts/business travelers. In my experience, these corporate brands seem to be more customer-friendly and their rates are set appropriately (they are generally not going to hassle you about nicks, dings, etc. that are smaller than a dime – considered normal wear & tear). Their secondary brands (Thrifty, Dollar, Budget, Alamo, Enterprise) target the leisure traveler and/or insurance-replacement market. They tend to operate more like airlines and have more fees.

  40. Lee Feinswog Reply

    Had the same thing happen at LAX recently. But in my case, they wouldn’t honor the fill-up because it was from the morning before. I didn’t drive it again and then dropped the car off at 5:30 a.m. Complained to Thrifty, which responded and sent me some vouchers to make up for it next time. I appreciated that and since they responded will continue to rent from Thrifty occasionally, but the whole thing stinks shows a total respect for the customer.

  41. Rent cars in SLC almost every month.
    Only once asked for receipt (fuel gauge was just below the F level). We paid the “Stupid” rate for about 2 gallons. We did know better and accepted it as our “Lazy” penalty.
    Never asked for receipt when gauge over full.

  42. I guess asking for a receipt is better than being asked EXACTLY where you are staying, where you plan to travel, and what ypu plan to do for your three days of rental and being asked to affirm what was stated with a signature. Happened to me in Iowa airport budget location – with an explanation that they were required to ask everyone because of thefts. I asked the guy beside me if he was asked those questions and he would not answer me – he did not want to be dragged into it (and that frankly answered my question).

    I thought I might have been a bit sensitive until my co-worker said ‘I cannot believe that I just witnessed racial profiling’. i would have switched right them except there was a major NASCAR and other events taking place and everyone was sold out, but I can assure you that budget will never get my business again.

  43. The way I look at it is this: there are times when I fill it up 1 mile from the airport and times when it may be 15 miles. National has NEVER made this am issue, but I also never stretch it. The way I see it is that others prob do the same thing, so since I rent exclusively and frequently from National for business, it all evens out. I am sure I have filled many cars up fuller than when I got them, and others have prob topped off a couple dollars worth more than what I left in a returned car.

    It is frustrating that you have to show the receipt. Especially when you are pressed for time and have to fill up when/where you can; however, if the management at rental car companies have identified this as an area that is costing their business and hurting profitability, can we blame them for combating that? But to answer your question: it would make me swap companies. This is why I stick with National. They always take care of me!

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  45. I just received a email of a rental car damage complaint the lady is very rude to me and hung up on me numerous times. She will not transfer me to a manager nor explain the damage of the claim. I would like to have this investigated by the police as the damage that she describes is under the vehicle. WHO LOOKS UNDER A VEHICLE
    The entire renting experience at the Calgary Airport Thrifty was a nightmare, I had a vehicle reserved and waited 2 hours for it and then when I got the car I signed for it was a car and was dirty both inside and out and I refused it because I could not see the damage so I waited another 45 minutes for another car and it was a van and some guy just came in and gave me the keys.This van was also dirty and I complained but they told me they had no other vehicle for me until one returns at 6pm which would mean another 3 hours waiting. I told the man at the desk that I am unable to see any damage of this vehicle in the dark parkade and cause it was still dirty and he said he would mark it down. I am a VP of operations for a large company and rent vehicles weekly. Since this occured and please note that I have rented numerous times before this incident I have not been back. I have not recommended your rental services nor used it for any of our company needs. Going forward with the rude claims department call agent who offers no information about the claim etc I am even more dissatisfied. I would like a corporate response to this matter.

    Very disappointed and will be doing a network media campaign to raise issues regarding the lack of quality and services that Thifty fails to provide to its customers

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