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I am traveling to Florida from Europe in a few weeks and wanted to rent a car. I found the prices at Budget to be the best for what I want. But something seems off about the offer.

I select the dates, the pick and drop location, country of origin and i get a very good offer with LDW and Third-Party-Liability included at 0 cost. These options are already selected and can't be unchecked.

If on the other hand I select that I live in the US, I get a slightly better deal but with huge LDW and third-party costs, more than doubling the cost of the rental.

Is there something I'm missing? Am i being scammed? Should I trust them? Below I will attach screenshots with what I am talking about.

Foreigner rental summary enter image description here

Foreigner rental details enter image description here

US rental summary enter image description here

US rental details enter image description here

  • Did you select/unselect protextions & coverage somewhere? Could be an option that the car rental company thinks foreign people have less money to spend so they keep their cost lower? – Joren Vandamme Mar 13 at 8:49
  • In case of foreigner rental, you can't. They are greyed out. If you are a US citizen the fields are orange and can uncheck them as you wish. The only difference in the form is country of residence. – Adrian Sicaru Mar 13 at 8:51
  • It could be that the renting company knows that you don't have alot of options, beeing a foreigner, and wants to charge you more than an US citizen (because they can buy a car easier than the foreigner) Or they charge more because it's harder for them to charge you fees when you left the country. All speculation. – Joren Vandamme Mar 13 at 8:59
  • @JorenVandamme - yeah, but the price with insurance included at no cost is very good. It states clearly that it's included. The only thing I can think of is that they don't show the price in summary, which would be for all intents and purposes a scam. – Adrian Sicaru Mar 13 at 9:04
  • You pay what you see in "Estimated Total". No scam involved. I add more details about insurance in the US in an answer. – dunni Mar 13 at 9:19
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I have noticed this exact thing and have questioned several rental companies about it. There seems to be no obvious answer to why the residents of different countries should be charged different rates for the exact same rental with the same insurances and add-ons. Some answers have tried to explain this away as different (or "more appropriate") insurance cover or add-ons, yet closer examination show it is the exact same insurance cover and add-ons. The only consistent thing would seem to be in the case of US residents who (I have been told several times) are often able to provide their own insurance cover for a rental car, and therefore can get a lower overall rental cost if they exclude all the rental agency insurances.

In one discussion I had with a rental company some years ago, I asked what would happen if I lied about my residency to get a lower rate. The answer I received was that I could do that if I wished! Make of that what you will.

While I was living in the Netherlands, I used this to my advantage when travelling home to the UK and needing a rental car for the weekend. Since the question was always about where you were resident, and not your nationality or the issuing authority of your driving licence, I picked the residency that gave me the cheapest rental quote, reasoning that if I was ever questioned about it I could supply either a UK or NL address as appropriate. Often, despite making the booking as a NL resident, I then supplied my UK driving license and my UK address when collecting the car. It never even raised an mention at the rental agency desk.

Note however, I never actually tried to claim I was resident in a country where I didn't have an address. It suspect it might therefore get increasingly difficult if you were, for example, an American with a US drivers license, picking up a rental car in Europe while claiming to be a Chinese resident.

  • In this case, the US rental agency is quoting a much higher rate for US residents, not a lower rate. – Michael Hampton Mar 13 at 17:37
  • @MichaelHampton I notice that too; until you take a close look at the examples the OP presented. The US one included lots of insurances that seem to be included for the "foreigner" version. If you compare just the base rates, the US resident would be billed $269.98 and the foreigner $297.57. It is only the addition of the (possibly unnecessary) extras for the US resident that adds an extra $523.99. Either the "foreigner" deal is a great offer, or the US price is a big rip off because they asked for insurance. – Nick Mar 13 at 20:11
  • There are two similar answers in my opinion and I will select this one as it was the first. I also talked with friends in US and they pretty much confirmed what you are saying and that it does not seem a scam. – Adrian Sicaru Mar 14 at 12:43
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It's not at all uncommon for rental companies to offer different prices to people from different regions, and I've always seen lower prices offered for foreigners. Possibly this is because they expect foreign visitors to be tourists and more price conscious, while domestic visitors are more likely to be on business travel. You're not being scammed; just the opposite.

As a dual citizen, I've actually booked a rental car as an EU resident before, and had the guy at the counter give me the side-eye when I handed over my US driver's license (but then get things sorted out anyway). It's possible that a grumpier agent would have made my life more difficult.

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In the US as far as i understand the system, a car insurance is bound to a person, so if you have an insurance for your own car, it includes usually rental cars as well in its coverage. So in that case a US resident doesn't need to book insurance to his rental car, which would get him in your case the better deal compared to a foreigner. I guess, that insurers then assume that a resident, which needs insurance with his rental car, doesn't have such personal car insurance, where the reason e.g. could be that he would not be eligible because of financial reasons etc., and they calculate the risk accordingly, which then usually leads to higher insurance costs.

Contrary to that, (that's another guess from me), if you rent a car as a foreigner, you might not drive as risky as a resident, because of the hassle that an accident would include (dealing with police etc.). That would lead to a lower risk for such a customer group.

  • And many people in the US don't own cars at all. – Michael Hampton Mar 14 at 0:45

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