Search the blog:

Isn’t It Always Option Number 3?

A few weeks ago I rented a car from Budget and because it was a small city I had to go to the counter as opposed to using their fastbreak service. I was next in line and overheard the person in front of me take option number one with regard to the 3 different fueling options. I must admit I was a little surprised that anyone would take that choice and asked the customer service person what are the benefits to taking that option? She mentioned two – the price is 17¢ cheaper than the local gas stations, and the convenience that you don’t need to refill it yourself. She seemed confident in her responses and the fact that I was going to take the same option as the prior customer. Before I tell you what I said, here are the three different refueling options that most car rental companies have:

  1. You may purchase a tank of gas at time of rental and return the vehicle with as little gas as you prefer. 
  2. You can let them refuel for you and only pay for the fuel required to replace the fuel you used, and for the service and convenience of refueling the tank.
  3. You can stop and refuel the tank yourself, immediately prior to returning the vehicle.

My answer to the customer service rep was no – and I don’t understand why anyone would take any option but number three. She was taken back a little because she thought she effectively explained the program and the benefits and didn’t predict my response. I also added that the reason that option number one doesn’t make sense is that even though you are saving 17¢ per gallon by paying for it up front – very few (if any) customers will return the car almost empty. Let’s do the math. If a tank holds 15 gallons you are saving $2.55 by buying the tank up front which equals about ¾ of a gallon of gas, or about 19 miles if the car averages 25 miles to the gallon. Most people won’t take the fuel level that low, so the only benefit really is convenience, and for that you will pay and in some ways a lot.

The second option is they refuel it for you at $9.00 a gallon – clearly that makes no sense. I can see someone doing this if they are going to be late for a flight, but planning do to this up front makes little sense.

In my opinion, the third option is the only viable one and after I explained this to her, she understood and handed me my keys.

What do you think?

  • What option do you take?
  • Does your choice change if the rental is for personal use as opposed to for business?
  • If you own a business, what do you do if your staff takes option number 2?
  • Do you agree with my logic?

I look forward to your comments.

8 Responses to “Isn’t It Always Option Number 3?” - Leave a Reply

Thank you for your comments. If you would like to sign up for your picture to be displayed next to your comments, click here to go to gravatar.com