Renting a car in the USA -- do foreigners pay more. Third world DLs
Replies: 12 - Last Post: Dec 8, 2012 5:23 AM Last Post By: mickyfinn
Dec 6, 2012 11:12 PM
Renting a car in the USA -- do foreigners pay more. Third world DLsDo foreigners pay more to hire a car in the US? Also, what if the drivers license is from a third world country?
Dec 6, 2012 11:27 PM
Dec 6, 2012 11:47 PM
Dec 7, 2012 12:21 AM
3We book in advance (prior to arriving in the US) via carhire3000.com (Manchester UK based) - and I feel like it is often quite a bit cheaper than booking a rental car in the US direct. Plus they are good to deal with ... which is worth a lot as well. If your DL is in Latin/Roman script it will be no issue - if you are from a country where the script is different (China, Thailand, Yemen, etc), then you may well need an International Driver's Permit (IDP) for renting a car in the US. The average cop in North Dakota is unlikely to read Chinese characters too well.
Dec 7, 2012 12:27 AM
4Risk. Auto companies know that if someone has an American DL, they can probably catch up to them for any expenses, etc that come up.
I suspect this is not true ... but have no figures to back it up. Car rental companies work on insurance risk (not based on your country of origin) - and I reckon the average international tourist is probably much less of a risk than many many Americans are - who go through life essentially uninsured.
Dec 7, 2012 3:32 AM
Thanks for your help, Ian.
Dec 7, 2012 3:42 AM
6It's an interesting question though: I did the test on the Avis USA website for a random week in Feb 2013, cheapest car available, pickup and return in LAX with different nationalities (country of residence):
As a US citizen, I would pay 287 USD. As a citizen from Tanzania, the price for that same car is 332.64 USD and as a resident from Belgium, it would be 239.93 USD.
So, considerable differences...I didn't go through the whole booking process, so I don't know what additional insurances would cost and what the final price would be.
On the National Car Rental website rates quoted for a Togo resident were lower than for a US resident. So, it seems there is no real line in it and US citizens do not necessarily get the cheapest prices.
On the same National website it says: "Country of Residence: This is required in order for us to provide you with appropriate products. Depending upon your country of residence the rate you are quoted may include certain coverage options, taxes, and other fees. These products are designed to meet the needs of customers traveling abroad to the US".
Some rental brokers (like Carhire3000.com) do not seem to ask for the driver's nationality.
So, OP, shop around. You can't change your nationality / country of residence, but you can save considerable amounts by comparing different cies or using a rental broker. And make sure you are sufficiently covered of course.
Dec 7, 2012 3:52 AM
7In Australia it would definitely be illegal (in fact unconstitutional) to charge a different rate for a rental car, based on your nationality ... you simply cannot do it, and it would be socially and financially unacceptable to attempt to do so.
Dec 7, 2012 5:35 AM
8European regulatory bodies are also fighting it, but it still seems to be a common practice:
(excerpt from a UK newspaper article from 2009)
As can be seen, there appears to be no logic to the pricing systems operated and, as many frequent users have pointed out on forums, it can often be to your advantage to give a different country of residence when making your booking on-line and hope that the discrepancy is not spotted. But be warned: the ‘trick’ is very familiar to the car hire companies, who are at pains to point out that lying when giving personal details is a breach of contract and can, among other things, render the insurance cover invalid, leaving the hirer with a heavy bill if something goes wrong.
Why is it done? Hertz, whom we took the matter to, explained that source-market pricing is standard practice in the industry. Nuns Moodliar, Hertz’s Vice-President for Corporate and Legal Affairs, pointed out that “in some source markets the costs (e.g. marketing and website development) are higher than in others and the pricing reflects those costs operating in the source market”. He illustrates his point with the following example. “Take two people who book a car with us in Malaga Airport. One is from the UK and one from Germany. In Britain it is a holiday period but not in Germany. Our marketing costs in Britain are higher because we would probably be specifically promoting rentals in the UK around then and the tariffs offered to British customers reflect that extra cost. Bear in mind the cost at the actual point of rental is just one element of the overall cost. As a multinational, we market in the source market even though the car is picked up at the destination”. Moodliar is at pains to stress that “it can cut both ways” and a given nationality is not always penalised.
The controversy is far from new. Back in November 2005, a report drawn up by the European Consumer Centres Network entitled Car Rental Contracts: An analysis of European cross-border complaints and consumer protection found that “it has been proven that when consumers make Internet reservations for a particular service, the price they are quoted may vary depending on the country of residence they give. Considering the general prohibition of discrimination stipulated by Article 12 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, these practices fall under the scope of article 47 of the proposal on services, which prohibits any discriminatory provisions relating to the nationality or place of residence of the recipient of the service”. It appears that extensive discussions have taken place with the European Commission in the context of the Services Directive but for the moment there is no sign of a change in the current practice. Until it does change, it pays to shop around, since although you may be penalised by one company for being from the UK or Ireland, it might be to your benefit when you hire through another.
Dec 7, 2012 6:20 AM
Dec 7, 2012 1:29 PM
Dec 8, 2012 12:33 AM
Dec 8, 2012 5:23 AM
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