Car Rental Car Seat: How to Avoid the Extra Fee

PUBLISHED ON Jun, 18 2023

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Overpriced car seat rentals is a common issue that many families face while planning road trips or holidays. The rental car companies typically offer car seats for infants, toddlers, and boosters but at quite a steep cost, ranging from $10-$15 per day, per seat, plus tax. These fees can accumulate quite fast, especially for families with more than one child. It’s interesting to note that for the amount charged for rentals, one could buy a brand new car seat instead.

To add to the financial burden, the process of hiring a car seat often comes with multiple problems. A study found that 85% of parents had encountered issues with their rented car seat when they came to collect their hire car. Some of these issues include no advice or instructions with the rented car seat, missing parts or damaged seats, and incorrect age or stage car seat for the child. Furthermore, most rental car companies do not allow their staff to assist in the installation of these seats due to potential liability issues, which means parents have to handle the installation themselves.

Given these circumstances, it’s critical that parents plan ahead to ensure the safety and convenience of their children while on the road.

Why Do Rental Companies Charge for Car Seats?

Rental companies charge for car seats primarily because they see it as an opportunity to increase their revenue. When customers travel with young children, they often need a car seat to comply with local laws, making the seat an essential add-on. Rental companies have identified this need and capitalized on it by charging a daily fee for the provision of a car seat.

Aside from the financial perspective, rental companies also charge fees to cover the costs related to maintenance, cleaning, and ensuring the car seats meet safety standards. Car seats used in rental vehicles need to be kept clean and in good condition for the next user, which can involve significant maintenance work. They also have to comply with safety regulations, which might necessitate frequent replacement or updates to newer models.

Moreover, these car seat rental fees can contribute to the overall profit margins for rental companies. For instance, they may charge between $10-$15 per day per seat, and while some companies have a maximum charge per rental, it can be as high as $90 for certain rental services. These fees can significantly increase the overall cost of the car rental, especially for longer trips or for families with more than one child, thus contributing to the rental company’s profitability.

Cost of Car Seat Rentals – Average price for a car seat rental

Based on the information provided from Consumer Reports, the average price for renting a car seat from a rental agency is approximately $10 per day. However, it’s important to note that this cost can quickly accumulate if you’re planning to be at your destination for more than a few days, potentially approaching the price of a new seat.

Child Safety Seats From Rental Car Companies

5 reasons why you should consider renting a car seat

Every year, millions of travelers rent car seats all across the world. Maybe they’re right after all? Here are the main reasons why it would be a good idea to rent a car seat:

  1. Convenience: When traveling, particularly by air, lugging around a car seat can be cumbersome and add to the stress of managing your luggage, kids, and other travel gear. Renting a car seat upon arrival at your destination, whether from a rental car agency or a specialized baby gear rental service, alleviates the hassle of carrying one with you.
  2. Variety of Options: Rental services often offer a variety of car seats for different stages of a child’s growth, from infant car seats to convertible car seats and boosters. This ensures that you can choose a car seat that is most suitable for your child’s current age and weight.
  3. Risk Reduction: If you choose to travel with your own car seat, there’s a risk of damage during transit or loss at the baggage claim. Renting a car seat upon arrival eliminates this risk entirely, providing peace of mind.
  4. Quality and Safety Standards: Reputable baby gear rental services like BabyQuip are committed to providing clean, well-maintained, and safe car seats. They have stringent cleaning procedures and offer age-appropriate car seats, ensuring that they are in optimal condition for use.
  5. Cost-effective: For shorter trips, renting a car seat could be more cost-effective than buying a new one. This is especially the case if you travel infrequently, or if you are a grandparent or relative who only needs a car seat for occasional visits.

5 reasons to avoid child car seat rental

  1. Uncertainty of Quality: When you rent a car seat, you might not always know its history, such as how old the seat is, whether it has been in a car accident, or how well it has been maintained. These factors could affect the seat’s safety and performance.
  2. Unknown Standards: Not all car seats are created equally. Different countries have different safety standards for car seats, and a rental car seat might not meet the same standards as your home country.
  3. Familiarity: Your child may be accustomed to their own car seat. A different model might not only make them uncomfortable but also may not provide the same level of safety if you’re not familiar with how it functions.
  4. Cost Considerations: Depending on the duration of your trip, the cost of renting a car seat can sometimes add up to more than the cost of buying a new one.
  5. Availability: Car rental companies may not always have the type or number of car seats you need available at the time of your rental. This could leave you in a tricky situation if you’re relying on them to provide these essential items.

Strategies to Avoid Car Seat Rental Fees

There are several strategies you can use to avoid car seat rental fees when you rent a car:

  1. Book in Advance: Booking a car seat in advance can maximize the chance of having a car seat available for your trip. It’s recommended to call the rental car company directly after booking to add a car seat to your reservation.
  2. Free Car Seats for AAA MembersAAA (American Automobile Association) does not universally offer free car seats for its members. Some rental companies,  such as DollarHertz, and Thrifty offer
    free child seat with car rental. AAA is a federation of independent clubs throughout the United States and Canada, and services and benefits can vary based on location. Some individual AAA clubs may offer car seat services, including free or discounted car seats, car seat inspection, or car seat safety education programs. It’s important to check with your local AAA branch for the most current information.
  3. Book with Silvercar: Silvercar offers free high-quality Peg Perego car seats at all of its locations. After you make your rental reservation, simply email Silvercar to let them know you’ll need a car seat.
  4. The National PTA (Parent Teacher Association) offers free car seats in rental cars for its members when renting with Hertz. Members of the organization should use the following code when booking with Hertz – 1929580. Just like any other membership program that entitles a user to benefits, the personnel of the rental car company may request proof of PTA membership upon pickup.
  5. Bring Your Own Car Seat: Another alternative is to bring your own car seat. Most airlines allow car seats to be gate checked for free, and they can often be picked up right on the jetway after landing, potentially limiting damage from luggage handling.
  6. Use a Booster-Seat Alternative: Booster-seat alternatives can be a viable and practical option, especially for travel situations or for occasional use in different vehicles. Here are a few alternatives that you could consider:

    • Ride Safer Travel Vest: The Ride Safer Travel Vest is a wearable child restraint system that brings the seat belt down to the child’s level, rather than boosting them up to meet the belt. It is portable and easier to use in situations where a traditional booster seat may not be practical.
    • BubbleBum Inflatable Booster Seat: The BubbleBum Inflatable Booster Seat is a lightweight, compact, and inflatable car booster seat. It deflates and folds up to be carried in a purse or backpack, making it a good option for travel, taxi rides, or carpooling.
    • Mifold Grab-and-Go Booster Seat: The Mifold Grab-and-Go is a compact and portable booster seat that’s about 10 times smaller than a regular booster seat but just as safe. It adjusts the adult-sized seat belt to fit a child by pulling it down to their level.
    • Hiccapop UberBoost Inflatable Booster Car Seat: The Hiccapop UberBoost is an inflatable booster seat that offers convenience and portability. It inflates with just a few breaths and deflates quickly for travel convenience.

    All these options provide portability and ease-of-use while still ensuring child safety in a vehicle. However, it’s important to note that these alternatives should only be used when the child has outgrown the car seat with a harness and is ready to use a belt-positioning booster seat. Before making a choice, parents should carefully research each product to ensure it meets safety standards and is the right fit for their child’s age, weight, and height.

    Remember, regulations can vary from country to country and even state to state. Always make sure that the alternative you choose is legal and complies with safety regulations in your area. Always prioritize the safety of the child above all other considerations.

  7. Avoid Renting a Car: Several cities around the world are known for their efficient public transportation systems that could make car rentals unnecessary for visitors. Here are some examples:
    • Tokyo, Japan: Tokyo has an extremely efficient and extensive public transportation system. The city’s network of subways and trains is punctual, covers the entire city, and can take you virtually anywhere you need to go.
    • Singapore: Singapore has a comprehensive public transportation system, including MRT (mass rapid transit) trains and buses, which are efficient, punctual, and clean.
    • Berlin, Germany: Berlin’s U-Bahn (underground railway) and S-Bahn (suburban train) networks are highly reliable and connect virtually all areas of the city.
    • London, UK: London’s public transportation network is extensive and includes the Underground (“Tube”), buses, and trams.
    • New York, USA: New York City’s subway system operates 24/7 and covers a wide area across its five boroughs. Other options include buses and the Staten Island Ferry.
    • In many places, drivers of rideshare services like Uber and Lyft are required to comply with local laws regarding child car seats. This means that if a passenger does not provide a car seat, the driver may refuse service. When it comes to regulations about car seats in taxis, Uber, and Lyft rides, these can vary greatly depending on the city, state, or country. In many places, taxis are exempt from laws that require car seats. However, it’s always the safest practice to use a car seat or booster seat appropriate for a child’s age, weight, and height.

These strategies can help you save a significant amount of money on car seat rental fees and ensure a safe and comfortable ride for your child.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can I buy a plan for just one day?

Yes. Insurance for a single day is available.

Can I buy a plan for part of my rental only?

No. We provide a single journey plan. You are covered from the time you pick up the rental car up to the time you return it or on the last date written on your Certificate of Insurance, whichever comes first.

Can I buy a plan when I pick up my rental car?

No. You should purchase a policy before starting your travel.

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