In small type on the Hertz invoice: “I have been offered a choice of currency and chosen to pay my rental charges in the currency of my card.” The renter's charge at the end of the rental was 687 euros. By agreeing to pay that balance in dollars instead of euros, she allowed Hertz to use Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) which used an exchange rate of 1.46. The interbank exchange rate on the day of the transaction was 1.39. Had the renter demanded to pay in euros, her credit card would have processed the charge using the lower interbank rate, instead of the higher DCC rate. This Hertz slight of hand cost the renter $48, money that went to Hertz and the company that provides the DCC “service.” The final charge appeared on her credit card statement as $1003 instead of $955.

The renter told the agent never mentioned currency when she signed the paperwork. When signing credit card slips in Europe it is imperative that you find out in which currency you are being charged and pay only in local currency, not in dollars. DCC is a huge ripoff, it does nothing for the customer and benefits only the retailer and the Dynamic Currency Conversion vendor.

Rental car companies in Europe charge about $15 per gallon if the car is returned without a full tank. One traveler recently was given a car with a half full tank. Not to worry, said the agent, just bring it back half full, there's a problem with the gauge. At that point the renter should have asked the agent to note the alleged gauge problem in writing on the paperwork. Sadly, he did not. When the car was returned half full in a different town to a different agent, the renter was charged for 10 gallons of gas, $157. He didn't discover the charge until he was back in the U.S. and received his credit card statement. Since he had nothing in writing, he was unable to successfully dispute the charge.

Lesson: When picking up a rental car anywhere, make sure all anomalies—scratches, less than full fuel tank, etc.— are noted in writing.

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