Of late, every time I rent a car in the US, I'm handed two copies of the key, connected by an unbreakable wire cable. This makes a big, unwieldy, lump in my pocket. It also guarantees that, if I lose one, I lose both.

Why do the rental companies do this? Naively, I would expect them to want to keep one key in a safe place in case the renter screws up and loses a key.

My recent experiences of this have been with Alamo FWIW.

  • 2
    Last week, Enterprise cut the cable and re-did it on one key before handing it to me, with the explanation, "This way if you lose it we charge you $250 instead of $500." :-)
    – WGroleau
    Aug 24, 2016 at 2:16
  • I can confirm that it is the normal procedure, and I agree it seems pretty silly. I normally cut them right away (with an old nail scissor) to store them separated; nobody ever complained.
    – Aganju
    Aug 24, 2016 at 2:19
  • Huh. I think the last few times, I've gotten one key wired to an awkward plastic fob. Aug 24, 2016 at 2:33
  • Any other experiences with cutting the keys apart? It sure would be handy for each adult on a family trip having a key.
    – EBlake
    Mar 16, 2017 at 20:06
  • @WGroleau That is my first thought when handed those fobs - those things are expensive to replace. Sep 5, 2017 at 19:33

1 Answer 1


There's a few reasons:

  • There's actually less risk of losing both keys that way than splitting them up.
  • It's easier to keep track of one set of keys rather then two.
  • One-way rentals also cause a problem with the car and a key ending up in two different places.
  • A key is not easily identifiable to a specific car so once it's detached, they might as well toss it.

Of course, this is a decision each agency will make on it's own.

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