Facts About Returning Your Rental Car Early – Fees, Refunds & Requirements of Different Companies!

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Unexpected events sometimes cause a plan to change, and you might need to return a rental car before the scheduled drop-off time.

This is why you should put a lot of things into consideration while renting a car to prepare for possibilities like this.

This article will help you in understanding the intricacies of returning your rental car early to ensure you get the best out of your deal in such a situation.

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Pros and Cons of Returning My Rented Car Early

It’s common to return a rental car early, but the terms and conditions of the contract and the rental car company in question will determine whether you’ll receive a refund or be penalized for doing so.

This is why it is wise and safe to ask upfront about the rental car company’s early or late return policies.

Here are some general pros and cons regarding early returns that you should be aware of.

The Pros…

  • Airport rentals

The basic pricing will return to normal in cases where you have a weekly rental from an airport location but have to return it during the week.

However, the per-day airport fee will be removed from the days that weren’t used.

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And, some cons…

  • Weekend Deals

When your rent agreement includes special pricing for keeping it through the weekend, returning it early may alter the discount received.

  • Discount Specials

If you were given a special discount on your rentals because the rental duration was three days or longer, returning early could result in you losing the discount and seeing your daily fee go up.

  • Weekly Rentals

When you sign up for a weekly rental agreement but need to return the car sooner than that, the fee is typically based on a daily rate, which could result in you paying more.

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Early Car Returns With Rental Companies

Rental companies have various policies regarding early car returns and the possibility of getting a refund for unused days.

The unique requirements and policies for top rental companies in the US are as follows:

Hertz: They accept early car returns, but offer no refund policy for unused days. Hertz charges $11 for early returns, and you will be charged at standard rates if you return before the end of a weekly or weekend agreement. 

Alamo: Alamo accepts early car returns and only charges clients for the period they had the rental. If clients return rentals a day early, they are charged an additional $15 and the initial  rental cost will be adjusted.

Sixt: Sixt doesn’t charge an extra fee for early car returns as long as clients notify them prior to returning rentals early.

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Otherwise, clients will be charged $10 and another $20 if the car was returned to a location different from the one in the rental agreement.

Thrifty: They charge an extra fee if the client did not prepay rental costs and returned the rental over 24 hours earlier than the time stipulated in the rental contract. Clients will be charged for the days used with an extra $25 compensation fee. 

Enterprise: Enterprise doesn’t penalize customers for early car returns and only charge clients for the days they had the rental, except for prepaid reservations.

Rental Companies Accept early Returns? Extra charge Refund policy for unused days
Hertz Yes $11 No 
Alamo Yes $15  Yes
Sixt Yes $10  No
Thrifty Yes $25  Yes
Enterprise Yes No charges No

What To Do If You Must Cut Your Rental Short?

Early car rental returns can happen for many reasons. And if you must cut your rental short, here are a few things you want to keep in mind:

  • Notify the rental company: Some rental companies do not charge for early returns as long as you notify them prior to returning the rental. In such cases, make sure to call ahead to avoid extra charges.
  • Return to the same rental location: To avoid extra charges that may or may not exist (depending on the  rental company), endeavor to return your rental to the same location you picked it up.
  • Read your rental agreement: This is probably the most important thing to do. Your rental agreement contains rental rates and return policies. So make sure to go through your rental agreement to know about the rental company’s dos and don’ts when it comes to early car returns.

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How does return car early refund works?

Because every rental company has a different policy regarding refunds, early refund policies are entirely dependent on the company. Therefore, whether you will be charged less or more for an early return is often up to them.

But the majority of businesses don’t give back money for unused days. This is why it is important to understand the early refund policy of the rental car company before signing an agreement.

Do Avis early return policy favour the renter?

No, Avis does not favor the renter with its early return policy. The general terms and conditions of their rental agreement specify that early returns will attract a higher or different charge. You should reach out to the specific location to find out about their early return policy.

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Would I enjoy refund with National car rental early return?

You won’t receive a refund if you return a rental car to National early. The vehicle must be in your possession for the duration specified in the rental agreement. However, they do not charge for early returns.

Are there early return fee Hertz?

Yes, there is. Hertz charges an early return fee of $11 to compensate them for not being able to rent the car out while it was reserved for your use.

You will not be refunded for unused days. Instead, the initial rental cost will be re-calculated using standard rates, especially if you return before weekly or weekend agreements.

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What happens if I return car one day early?

The policies of a one-day early car return varies depending on the company. For instance, a one-day early car return with Alamo will result in the adjustment of the initial rental rate to reflect the early return, and with a $15 penalty for returning outside the agreed time. 

Can you return a rental car early Enterprise?

Yes, Enterprise allows you to return a rented car early. Customers are not charged extra, and will only be charged for the days the car was in their possession (except prepaid reservations). However, there is no refund policy for unused days at Enterprise. 

Can you return a rental car early Alamo?

Yes, you can return a rental car to Alamo early, and get charged for the period you had the rental. If you return a rental more than a day early, you will be charged an additional $15 and the initial  rental cost will be re-calculated.


Whether you walked up to a car rental counter or are a member of their loyalty club, the moment you drove away in their rental vehicle, you entered into a contract with the rental company.

As a result, rental companies aim to hold you to the terms of the agreement. This is why, before renting a car, you should always note the company’s policies on early returns to avoid getting charged extra. 

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