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    How Much Does Renting a Car Actually Cost? Car Rental Fees Explained

    Renting a car might seem like a daunting prospect at first. You may have heard about extra fees and unexpected costs that come with car rental? Well, all of these extra costs have simple explanations and don't have to be hidden from you when you rent a car. It's important to know everything about renting a car before you actually commit to renting. That's where we come in!

    We know everything there is to know about renting a car and are here to help you answer the question: How much does renting a car cost? Read on for car rental fees, explained:

    VAT Car Rental Tax

    VAT (which stands for Value Added Tax) is an industry standard addition to any rental fee. The amount can vary throughout Europe, it will be no less than 15% and should be no more than around 30%.VAT is charged on your rental rate, whether it has been pre-paid or not, and on any other equipment charges and local fees you have been charged for or have committed to, this can include one way fees, insurance, and location fees. Sadly, you cannot claim these charges back. 

    Tip: Check to see if your rental payment includes VAT (or tax) or if it mentions you will have to pay this on collection, so you are prepared.

    One Way Fees

    One way fees, also known as a vehicle return fee or a drop charge, vary in price and can cost you anything from $10 to $1,000. This can depend on the agency you rent with, on the type of car, and where you would like to drop the car to. These fees will be much greater if you plan to drop the car off in another country. These fees only apply to renters who want to pick up the car in one location and drop it off in another location. The fees should be stated on the rental amount when you search your trip. Some one way fees are included in your rental price, and should be stated as 'pre-paid.' 

    Tip: Search for rental deals that do not have a one way fee for your destination and try to avoid dropping the car off in another country if you want to avoid the fees!

    Car Rental Equipment

    This may seem like an obvious one, but for most car rentals you will have to pay extra for additional items such as a GPS, winter tires, and child seats. You can usually add these items when you book the car online, so you know the final cost, or locally when you collect the vehicle. Prices are usually by the day and, depending on the item, can be anything from $5 to $15 a day. While most equipment is additional, some will be necessary, such as a child seat if you are traveling with children under a certain age. It is possible to provide your own equipment, but just remember that you will have to travel with it and you will need to check that it meets the safety requirements for the country you are renting in. 

    Tip: Check the fees for additional equipment before you book your car, and bring your own if you really have to!

    Local Taxes

    Also known as road tax, vehicle license fee, road safety fee, and environmental fee, local taxes should only be between $1 and $5 per day, and can vary greatly depending on the type of vehicle you are renting. These cannot be avoided or predicted, but shouldn't break the bank. It's just good to be aware of them. 

    Tip: Before you leave for your trip, check the local taxes for your model or phone the agency so you can be prepared for the fee when you arrive.

    Location Surcharge

    Sometimes you will get charged an additional fee to collect your car at a hub such as a train station or an airport, this is known as a location surcharge. These can be as little as $20 and as much as $80. Make sure you make a note of the closing and opening hours of the location you need to return the car to, as you could also incur a late return fee for this. 

    Tip: Consider picking your car up in the town, rather than at a hub, to save on this fee.

    International Travel Fees

    International Travel Fees only apply if you plan to drive outside your country of choice. They will usually cost anywhere from $20 to $50. Make sure you mention to your rental company where you will be traveling before you start your trip so they can inform you of any additional fees you will need to pay for that country. Most travel across Western Europe is free of charge, although you may have to pay a 'cross border fee', especially if you travel to a non-EU country. 

    Tip: Plan your trip in advance and make sure you check these additional fees before you book other elements of your trip, such as accommodation.

    Insurance Car Rental Fees

    On top of your insurance there may also be some additional fees, these might be known as a processing or administration fee. They usually cost around $50, and will only take affect if you have an accident or collision. They usually cover the cost of the paperwork and will be supplementary to any other amount you owe. 

    Tip: Make sure you choose a good insurance when renting a car abroad to avoid these fees.


    It's up to you how you want to return your rental. If you opt for a full to full policy then you will pay nothing up front, but will have to return the car with a completely full tank. If you choose a full to empty policy, then you will pay for the initial full tank and are able to return it empty. 

    Tip: A full to empty policy will usually mean paying a bit more for the premium fuel the rental company has used, so if you have the time make sure you fill it up yourself.


    Some rental companies add an additional mileage charge to your rental agreement. This is usually a small fee, such as $0.50, but is charged per kilometer. But if your agreement says unlimited mileage then you will not have to pay these extra fees. 

    Tip: Be very careful of this fee as it cannot be charged until the end of your trip, and can often shock people.

    Driver Fees

    Depending on your age and how many people you want to drive the car, you may be subject to additional fees. These can vary from $5 to $20 and usually apply to senior drivers, younger drivers, and multiple drivers. 

    Tip: Check the minimum age for your rental company and keep an eye out for companies that add on an extra driver for free!

    Car Rental Fees Explained: What to Expect

    Now that you have a better understanding of the various car rental fees that may apply to your upcoming rental, you can finally answer the commonly asked question, 'How much does renting a car cost?' Rental car costs are largely determined by the specific circumstance of your rental, but you can rest assured that no matter what your travel needs may dictate, Auto Europe guarantees the best rates on all car rentals in Europe, and is available around the clock via phone, at 1-888-223-5555, or email to assist you before, during, and after your car rental reservation.


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