Morgan Pritchett
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How to Return your Rental Car

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Car Keys
Find out how to return your rental car before you’re pressed for time

Returning a rental car can seem confusing. Some companies have a simple key drop while others want to perform a full inspection before you can go about your business. But not to worry; we’ll walk you through how to return your rental car, hopefully helping to avoid any anxiety about the process.


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Picking up the rental

The ideal time to understand a company’s drop-off procedure is when you pick up the rental. If this information is not included in any paperwork or signage within the building, ask an associate where you should park the rental when it’s returned. You should also ask what the drop-off hours are and if you need to speak to anyone when you arrive. There may be a specific timeframe in which you will be scheduled to return the car, and some businesses will charge you for an additional day of use if you don’t meet that deadline. On the flip side, some companies are a bit more flexible and will allow you to return the car before or after business hours using a key drop.

Before returning the car

Prior to returning your rental car, be sure that you’ve filled up the gas tank or be prepared to pay an outrageous price per gallon for the rental company to do it for you. It might seem more convenient to let them take care of it, especially if you’re in a hurry, but accounting for those extra minutes to stop at the gas station can save you some serious cash.


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Airport returns

If you’re dropping off a rental car at an airport, you may encounter an assembly line of sorts, with drivers pulling into numbered lanes or parking spots. Simply pull in behind the car in front of you, park, and start unloading your personal belongings. If the company is running efficiently, an attendant should assist you within minutes. They’ll check over the car — inside and out — take the keys, and give you a receipt or direct you to a desk to complete the process. [Pro tip: Some agencies are a short bus ride away from the terminal at an airport. Be sure to schedule enough time for that as well as waiting in line at the rental booth so you don’t miss your flight!]

Despite there being a few different return setups, the process is quite easy, and you should have no trouble if you know what to expect. Just be sure the car is clean and doesn’t have any major scratches or dents when you bring it back!