How to Calculate Car Rental Fees

by Charlie Gaston

Renting a vehicle for a road trip or when travelling out of town for a graduation or wedding ceremony is a great way to avoid putting extra miles on your car. While many car rental companies provide online and in-store tools to help customers calculate expected costs, customers can also calculate their costs at home using a few simple mathematical equations.

Request a daily, weekly or monthly rate for the vehicle.

Choose an insurance plan for the vehicle. Many car rental companies provide several tiers of auto coverage, including Loss Damage Waiver (LDW), Liability Coverage, Personal Accident Insurance (PAI) and Personal Effects Coverage (PEC), according to DMV.org.

Determine the rental period when renting the vehicle under a daily rate. For a three-day rental period, multiply the daily rate by three. Next, multiply the insurance rate by three. Add the two sums together.

Determine the rental period when renting the vehicle under a weekly or monthly rate. For a weekly or monthly rental agreement, multiple the weekly or monthly rate by the number of weeks or months you will be renting the vehicle. Next, multiply the insurance rate (per day) for each day within the number of weeks or months you will be renting the car. Add the two sums together.

Add the car rental rate (Step 3) and the insurance rate (Step 4) for the total expected price. If you rent a car for $15 per day and keep it for three days, your rental rate is $45. If you elect to purchase LDW insurance coverage at a cost $5 per day, your insurance rate for a three-day period is $15. The overall price would then be $60 ($45 + $15).

Contact your state Tax Service Center or Department of Revenue to find out your state's sales tax. In California, the sales tax is 9.75 percent as of 2009.

Multiply the total expected price ($60) by the sales tax in your state. Following the above example, you would pay $65.85 ($60 x 9.75 percent) to rent an insured car for three days in California.


  • You must provide a deposit for most car rental companies. In most cases, you do not pay the car rental company until you return the vehicle.


  • Always ask about late fees and how they are applied.

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About the Author

Charlie Gaston has written numerous instructional articles on topics ranging from business to communications and estate planning. Gaston holds a bachelor's degree in international business and a master's degree in communications. She is fluent in Spanish and has extensive travel experience.

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