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Different Location Rental Car Drop-Off: Tips to Avoid Penalties

Sometimes road trips don't go as planned. Maybe you had to cut your itinerary short due to a family emergency or an illness. Or, perhaps you changed your route spur of the moment to cross something off your bucket list. 

No matter the reason for your change of plans, it means dropping off your rental car at a different location. This post will review how different location drop-offs affect your rental rate and what kind of fees you may run into. Then, we'll give you some expert tips on keeping penalties to a minimum. 

Can You Return Your Rental to a Different Location?

The short answer is yes. There are two ways to rent a vehicle at one rental location and return it to another.

The first and best way is to reserve a one-way rental. Doing so involves confirming your pick-up and drop-off locations during the reservation process.

When booking online, you can check whether the rental offices you desire offer one-way rentals and if they carry additional fees. 

Of course, you may not intend to drop off your vehicle at a different location when you book the rental. When your plans change last minute, you will have to contact the rental company and see if you can modify the reservation. 

Depending on the location, rental, and time of year, they may not allow you to return the vehicle to another office. In these cases, you'll have to return your vehicle early and reserve a last-minute one-way rental for the remainder of the trip. 



Common Penalties for Dropping Your Car at a Different Location

Generally, car rental companies calculate rates round trip. You'll likely end up paying a heftier rental fee when you book a one-way car rental. Sometimes, companies even charge extra fees when you drop off a vehicle somewhere besides the pick-up location, even if it's in your reservation.

Be sure to read the fine print before confirming a one-way reservation. If you aren't sure whether there are fees, call the rental office. 

On the other hand, changing your drop-off location after the car is already in your possession always leads to penalties. When you sign the rental contract, you agree on specific terms, such as when and where you'll return the vehicle. Changing your itinerary means violating these terms, and rental companies will penalize you. 

Some of the most common penalties for dropping your car at a different location include:

  • Drop Charge: The fee for picking up at one location and returning at another typically applies to one-way rentals and last-minute changes.

  • Mileage Return Fee: Instead of a simple drop charge, some companies make customers pay a fee based on the number of miles between the original drop-off location and the new one. Usually, there is a limit on the extra charges.

  • Changes to Rental Rate: When you modify your drop-off location, you may see increases in your daily rate or miss out on deals you were previously eligible for. 

These fee structures give you an idea of what you're up against when you drop a rental car off at a different location. Below you'll see some of the policies for popular rental car companies. Familiarize yourself with them, and remember they may change according to the area.


AVR offers flexible pick-ups and drop-offs with advance notice. We can even deliver the van to your location if needed. 

Moreover, we offer one-way rentals for an additional fee. This fee varies according to location, so contact the office you'd like to pick up from for more information about the rental cost.


Avis lets its customers make one-way reservations and doesn’t charge a drop-off fee at many locations.

They also allow renters to modify their reservations during the rental period by calling their customer support number or by accessing their booking information online. 


Budget offers one-way rentals when they are available. Plus, the company lets customers change reservations they've already booked by calling their customer support phone number. 

Additional fees will apply if customers don't get authorization before dropping their rental vehicle off at a new location.


Enterprise allows for one-way rentals and drop-off location changes. Renters are subject to a drop-off fee, which changes according to the drop-off location and season. If you book a one-way rental, the drop-off charge will be disclosed.


Hertz charges a change fee of $12.99 when customers return vehicles to locations different from where they are rented or scheduled. The same fee applies to other rental modifications, such as the return time.

Tips for Avoiding Rental Penalties

You don't have to settle for outlandish penalties if you must drop your vehicle off at a different location. Instead, follow these tips to help you save, even when your plans change unexpectedly. 

Consider One-Way Rentals

When making your itinerary, you may decide that a one-way rental is more suitable than a round-trip, especially if they come with unlimited mileage. Here are some situations in which you may benefit from selecting a different return location:

Some car rental companies allow you to switch your reservation from a round-trip to a one-way trip at the last minute. If you would like this flexibility, book with a company with these lenient policies. 

Most companies will not allow you to make one-way reservations to Mexico or Canada. So, if this is in your plans, explore your options with the help of your rental company.



Review Your Rental Policy Carefully

​​If your plans change, you should check your rental agreement's fine print. It should tell you whether you'll face penalties and perhaps the steps you should take to avoid them. For example, some companies don't charge you a fee if you inform them in advance and get authorization to change your drop-off. 

Keep Your Rental Company Updated

Call your rental company immediately if you have no choice but to modify your reservation. Politely explain the situation and what you need to change. They may waive the fee, especially when you let them know upfront. 

Whatever you do, avoid dropping off the vehicle without notification. Not only will the company likely penalize you, but you will also have to deal with some unhappy agents at the rental counter. 

If you can't get ahold of customer service, email them. Or better yet, see if you can modify your reservation online or through the company's app (if they have one). 

Discover One-Way Rentals with AVR

There is often a penalty for dropping your rental car off at a different location. If you need to modify your drop-off location, follow the tips in this article to keep fines to a minimum.

With AVR, one-way rentals are a breeze! It's best to book them in advance, but if your plans change at the last minute, we'll do our best to help accommodate them.

Take a look at our available rentals, including SUVs, minivans, and 15-passenger vans

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