Car Hire Knowhow

Why have I been charged an admin fee by a car rental company?

Why have I been charged an admin fee by a car rental company?

When you signed the paperwork at the counter before you picked up the car, you will have accepted the rental company’s fees for dealing with problems from your trip. If you’re charged a fee after your trip, take a look at the paperwork if you still have it. It may help you understand what’s happened.

Here are the top four issues that car hire companies most frequently charge fees for: 
1) Traffic or parking fines
2) Damage to the car
3) Missing fuel 
4) Cleaning the car (valeting fee)

penalty notice on windscreen

Why have I been charged an admin fee for a traffic or parking fine?

If you’re caught by a speed or toll-road camera, or commit some other traffic offence, the car hire company will be contacted by the traffic authority. 

As soon as the rental company is contacted by the traffic authority, they will charge you an administration fee. This is to cover the cost of informing the authority who had the vehicle at the time. Admin fees for traffic or parking fines can be anything from £10 (€10) to £60 (€60) on top of the fine. 

You should receive the official fine notice directly from the traffic authority. The official notice can take up to a year to arrive, but you are likely to be charged the admin fee as soon as the rental company passes on your details.  

What can I do about it?

If you’ve been fined correctly, then the admin fee is right too. So you won’t be able to recover the cost. You may have to wait many months to receive the official fine notice to discover whether you have been fined correctly. 

If it turns out that the fine wasn’t fair and you can prove it, get in touch with the company you booked with so they can help you dispute both the fine and the fee.

damaged wheel arch

Why have I been charged an admin fee for damage?

If the car gets damaged during your rental, you are likely to pay an admin charge on top of any repair costs. This is usually called an ‘immobilisation’ charge. It covers the costs to the rental company of the car being off the road – and therefore unable to be rented out – while being repaired.

What can I do about it?

If you bought insurance for your rental, you might be able to claim back immobilisation charges as well as any charges for damage. You won’t be able to claim back the charges if you only had the basic Collision damage waiver the car came with. 

If you feel you’ve been charged unfairly for damage and you want to dispute it, the immobilisation charge would be included in your dispute. To dispute damage charges, contact the company you booked the car with. 

pouring fuel

Why have I been charged an admin fee for fuel?

If your fuel policy is ‘full to full’ and you return the car without filling the tank back up, the rental company will charge you for the missing fuel. 

They will also add an extra fee to cover the cost of an employee filling the tank. This can cost anything from £10 (€10) to £40 (€40) on top of the fuel charge. 

(In addition, the rental company are likely to charge a higher rate per litre of fuel than a local filling station would charge.)

What can I do about it?

If you didn’t follow the instructions and returned the car with less fuel than it had originally, you will have been correctly charged. 

If you think you’ve been unfairly charged for missing fuel and can prove it (with a fuel receipt, for example) contact the company you made the booking with to dispute the charge.  

dirty red car

Why have I been charged a valeting fee?    

If your return your rental car very dirty, the hire company will charge you for cleaning it. This is usually called a ‘valeting fee’. It can be anything from £10 (€10) to £100 (€100), depending on the type of car and how dirty it is. 

What can I do about it?

It can be difficult to judge what is too dirty, which may mean the charge is difficult to dispute. It’s a good idea to take clear pictures of your car when you pick it up and when you return it so you have evidence of the state of the car. 

Tip: If your trip has made the car quite dirty (for example, beach visits have filled the car with sand), it may be worth getting the car cleaned yourself before you return it. It will probably cost you much less than the rental company would charge you for the same job. 


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