It was too good to last. Hertz’ much-welcome decision in July to charge customers who didn’t prepay for a tank of gas based on the average price per gallon in the geographical area where the car is rented is no more.

Effective Dec. 1, it’s back to the old policy, according to a notice sent to its frequent renters.

This means the Flat Refueling Fee, and Fuel and Service Charges based on local pump prices, have been discontinued. All North American corporate-owned Hertz locations, including Airport, Hertz Local Edition® and Off-Airport locations in Canada are affected.

Hertz has three refueling options available to meet your needs:

* You may purchase a tank of gas from Hertz at time of rental and return the vehicle with as little gas as you prefer. Please be aware that we are unable to issue a refund for unused fuel. However, this method eliminates the need for you to refuel the tank prior to returning.

* You can let us refuel for you and only pay for the fuel required to replace the fuel you used, and for the service and convenience of refueling the tank.

* You can stop and refuel the tank yourself, immediately prior to returning the vehicle.

We apologize for any inconveniences this change may cause.


What does this mean? Expect to pay fuel prices that are marked up significantly from the street price. With the price of unleaded gasoline below $2, that may not amount to much right now. But wait until fuel prices rise, as they almost certainly will.

The other issue this announcement doesn’t address is the “full tank” fees, which seem to have been done away with last summer. Renters who returned their Hertz vehicles with a full tank of gas but drove only a few miles were charged a refueling fee, too.

Will these unpleasant surcharges make a comeback? Hertz doesn’t say.

Bottom line: be on the lookout for extra fees when you rent a car.