I'm planning a road trip for this summer, roughly between San Diego and Seattle, and I'm looking at car rental options for this one-way trip (I wouldn't be returning to the pick-up location).
I've been searching this and other forums and still don't get a clear picture about the one-way fee. Even though I assume having to pay it is quite probable, there seem to be some cases in which it is waived. I'll give first what information I've gathered and ask a couple of questions at the end.
Doing a search on www.drive-usa.de (I'm European) for San Diego - Seattle, I get a lot of options with Alamo with a "free" one-way fee. However, searching directly on Alamo's website doesn't offer this. A look at the rental terms on drive-usa.de shows the following on one-way fees:
Not permitted in the category LM.
One Way Rentals from/to Alaska are not permitted.
One-Way fee is waived within Florida, California, and within an island in Hawaii. Fee also waived for rentals between California and Nevada, between California and Arizona, and between the airports of Seattle and Los Angeles/San Francisco.
One-Way rentals in the convertible category with pick up in San Francisco in July and August are subject to a $455 one-way fee.
For all other categories and rentals starting at a San Fransisco City locations a special one-way fee of USD 390 applies for rental ending in Las Vegas or San Diego, USD 195 applies for rentals ending in Los Angeles.
For all others the following applies:
Distance between locations.......One-Way Fee
0 - 200 Miles.................................USD 129
201 - 500 Miles.............................USD 195
501 - 1000 Miles...........................USD 390
over 1000 Miles............................USD 650
All fees listed include taxes and fees.
(I haven't found mention of these terms on Alamo's website.) None of the fee-waiving possibilities applies between San Diego and Seattle, though. In any case, if it means avoiding the fee, I wouldn't mind renting from LAX instead. A search on the same website for rental between LA and Seattle also shows "free" one-way fee on a lot of results with Alamo.
However, in both cases, there's also a pop-up next to the "free" one-way fee quote:
The indicated one-way fees represent the current fees. Rental car companies reserve the right to change these fees prior to pick-up. In order to determine the total one-way fee due, rental car companies use the total distance between the pick-up and drop-off locations. The amounts listed include taxes and fees.
My questions are then: Does the one-way fee waiver offered by drive-usa.de hold any weight when I actually pick up the car, or is it just an eye catcher and it'll be a gamble? If I were to rent a car between LA and Seattle airports, would the rental terms be any guarantee that the one-way fee is waived?
And a bit tangential: What are the advantages, if any, of renting through a European intermediary like drive-usa.de as a European citizen?