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Recently, whilst on a long hire car journey it dawned on me, is there a fair usage allowance on my policy? ie: a limit on how many miles or kms I was allowed to do without extra charge in one day?

I am not one for fully reading terms and conditions, especially in a Hertz car rental reception area eager to get on the road, but I have since skimmed the policy and could not see anything related to fair usage or miles allowance.

I have done some searching and could not find anything with Hertz apart from van hire fair usage. Not sure if that document was even relevant still. But it did mention a maximum mileage of 200 miles per day, then a charge per mile thereafter.

Is anyone aware of any fair usage allowance for hire cars? If so which companies? If not, what would be stopping someone from hiring a car for 1 week and doing 500 miles per day returning it in 7 days with 3500 extra miles on the clock? (apart from being quite tired) Is the frowned upon, or is it ignored?

Surely car hire companies are missing a trick here if they do not apply a usage. It would be in their best interests to keep miles down to prolong the life of a hire car to make as much money as possible from one car.

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    Typically when you rent it'll say something like 500 miles per day or 1500 miles per rental or unlimited mileage, which will be repeated on the contract. What did yours say? – Gagravarr Sep 12 '14 at 10:32
  • @Gagravarr Even in the case it says unlimited mileage I could immagine the T&C mentioning a fair use policy - as is so often the case with unlimited/flatrate mobile&data tariffs for instance. That said though, I've rented a car (not sure, either Hertz or Europcar, it definitely said unlimited kilometres) to get to a conference once and did nearly 2000km in a three day rental - when returning I got a (more joking than anything else, definitely in a friendly manner) remark from the clerk about that being a lot of driving in three days.. but no trouble at all. – greyshade Sep 12 '14 at 10:49
  • "Unlimited" should mean "unlimited". However, as a rule of thumb, it makes sense to limit the actual number driven to something that does not suspiciously look like you were not following the traffic regulations. So if you drive more than 16 Hours*(Legal maximum speed limit) per day on a hire without a second driver, then this may cause trouble, as you were either a) going over the speed limit for a substantial time, or b) are quite likely to have been driven in a tired state, which is very dangerous. – DCTLib Sep 12 '14 at 11:37
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    @greyshade Telecoms companies seem to get away with redefining normal English words in a way that most other companies and contracts aren't allowed to... – Gagravarr Sep 12 '14 at 12:02
  • @Gagravarr 'redefining normal English words in a way that most other companies and contracts aren't allowed to' - not that I would agree with any such 'redefinition', but what makes you say other companies and contracts aren't allowed to do so? isn't it rather more often than one would like the case that the small print says something different than the big marketing words - such as 'unlimited'? – greyshade Sep 12 '14 at 12:19
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When you make the booking, it should say whether there are unlimited miles included or not. Some rentals will be limited to a certain number per day, some to a certain number per rental, and some will be unlimited. It can depend on the company, on the location, and on the car.

If we look at this example rental from Hertz for a basic car, we see unlimited miles allowed on these ones:

Unlimited

Alternately, if we pick some different options, we can find a car with a limit per day, and an excess use fee beyond that:

Limited

So, check when you book, and that'll tell you! It should also be repeated on your rental contract too.

  • Thanks for your answer @gagravarr I always do my car hire bookings through promotions when booking flights. I have not seen these screens before as I have never booked directly with the car hire company, but they do make sense. I guess when booking through the airline there will be some sort of small print somewhere that I will have to find. – davidb Sep 12 '14 at 13:18
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    you'd have to look at the legal fine print. As mentioned, telcos have already redefined unlimited! to mean not unlimited. Note that similarly you could put on here an image from Orange or something, stating "unlimited" usage which now means "not unlimited". – Fattie Sep 13 '14 at 12:29
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    Unlimited means unlimited. There has been a court case in Germany where a mobile phone user successfully sued his providers' "acceptable usage policy", as unlimited has a rather unambigeous meaning. – Krist van Besien Sep 16 '14 at 13:53

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