Is it Worth It?: Prepaying rental car gas

Lots of people rent a car when they’re on vacation or traveling for business.

At most car rental agencies, you have the choice of bringing the car back with a full tank of gas. You pump and pay for the gas with that option or pay a fee if you bring the car back even a few gallons short.

PEMCO insurance says there are a couple reasons you would want to prepay. The first is if you’re in a rush to the airport, you won’t have time to fill-up.

“The other thing that’s really critical is personal safety,” said Kristene Zewe, a Quality Analyst with PEMCO. “If you’re traveling alone or late at night with small children in unfamiliar area, it might just be better to go ahead and prepay it or take the penalty if you’re you know worried about safety. ”

It's also a good idea to prepay if you know you'll bring the car back on empty, but there's a risk to that. You don't want to run out of gas especially on the way to the airport.

PEMCO says it's generally not worth it to prepay gas at a rental car counter. If you don't want to worry about filling up, then go ahead and prepay.

"When people prepay they do typically tend to offer a small discount," said Zewe. "Most people are going to bring the car back with fuel in it so if you bring the car back even with a quarter of a tank, that's several gallons of gas that you didn't use and overtime that really adds up in the car rental agency's favor."

Be sure to save your receipt if you fill up on the way back to the rental agency. Some agencies now ask for proof that the car was filled within the last 10 miles it was driven.