A guide to car hire fuel policies
The ultimate guide to fuel policies
Everyone knows a car needs fuel to keep it running, but what is often overlooked when renting a car is its fuel policy. What exactly is a fuel policy? It's part of the supplier's fine print, detailing what fuel they provide you with and how much fuel they expect to be returned with the car. Most policies fall under a pay on collection scheme or return as received.
Need help deciding the best option for you? Check out our breakdown on each policy below and know what to look out for to avoid any hidden surprises.
Comparison table of different fuel policies
|Full to full (or same to same)||One of the most common and best-value policies, here you'll pick-up your car with a full tank and return it full. Alternatively, you may see it listed as same to same or quarter to quarter. In each case, you simply have to replace the fuel you've used before dropping the car off.||
|Pre-Purchase full to empty||You will receive your rental with a full tank a petrol but you don't need to replace the fuel you use before returning the car. This means that you will be charged to the full tank of fuel on collection, so you'll want to use as much fuel as possible. Return it as close to empty as you can to get your money's worth as you won't be refunded for what is left in the tank.||
|Pre-purchase refund||Like the Full to Empty policy, you will collect the car with a full tank of fuel but will receive a refund for any unused fuel upon return.||
|Pre-Purchase partial refund||Like the Full to Empty policy, you will collect the car with a full tank of fuel but will receive a refund for any unused fuel upon return.||
|Free tank||It's rare that you'll ever stumble across this policy, but it is sometimes promoted as a special offer by rental companies. The cost of the tank is technically included in your rental agreement, so it's not truly “free”. You can drop the car off with any amount of fuel in the tank, though you'll want to return it empty to make the most of the deal.||
Which fuel policy should I choose?
Deciding which fuel policy is best for you may depend on the type of holiday you're on, how far you're driving and if you're looking for convenience rather than cost.
Full to full (or same to same)
A great value for money option (no surcharges or inflated fuel prices) and the best choice if you expect to do lots of driving.
Pre-purchase full to empty
Not the most budget friendly option but if you're fine paying more for the ease of not having to fill the tank at all, then it's a smart choice.
Good policy if you don't want to fuss with having to refuel before heading off to the airport or don't expect to use up a full tank of petrol.
Pre-purchase partial refund
Ideal for those who'd like a convenient option and are unsure of how many miles they're likely to drive.
Great for everyone looking for optional extras and amazing for those expecting to use a full tank of fuel.
Tips on choosing a fuel policy
For any policy where you will not receive a refund for unused full, make sure to use up all the petrol possible. Otherwise you're just paying a higher price for fuel you didn't use and giving it back to the rental supplier for free.
Always check the fuel gauge when first getting into the car and take a picture if there isn't as much fuel in the tank as there should be.
Find out how much you will be charged if you return the car with too little petrol or how much you will be refunded for each litre or eight of a tank upon return.
For refundable pre-purchase policies, consider filling up the tank before returning it. You'll pay the local pump price for the petrol and be refunded at the supplier's price, which is usually higher.
If you've rented a car with a Full to Full policy, know where the nearest petrol station is to where you'll be dropping off the car.
When you're comparing the price of rentals, factor in the price of fuel as well. Although a car with a Full to Full policy may seem more expensive at first, it could save you money in the long term compared with pre-purchase policies.
And remember, on easyCar.com, you can filter by fuel policy to find a rental deal that suits you best.