Grace period

A grace period is a specific time frame after the scheduled time has passed when customers can pick up or drop off the vehicle without paying extra fees. In practical terms, this means that when a client rents a car, they commit to picking up and returning it on a specific date and time, as outlined in the rental agreement. The actual duration of the grace period, if offered at all, varies from one rental company to another. Customers should always review their rental agreement to find out the exact duration and to become familiar with the specific terms and conditions associated with it.

Grace Period for Pick-Ups

Even though car rental companies operate on a strict schedule, most of them tend to offer a grace period outlined in their terms of service. This allows customers to accommodate unexpected delays or unforeseen circumstances beyond their control, such as flight delays, baggage issues, security queues, etc. The terms of the grace period can vary depending on the supplier and the location.

Once the grace period has passed, the rental supplier assumes that the driver is not coming and considers them a ‘no-show’. For the customer, this results in the cancellation of their rental, usually without any refunds. The rental company then releases the booked vehicle back to the market. To avoid such a situation, customers should always notify the local supplier if they expect a delay. If the rental company is aware of the situation, they may be able to hold the car for the customer beyond the scheduled time.

Grace Period for Drop-Offs

A grace period for drop-offs allows the customers some leeway when returning the car to the rental company. For instance, if the rental agreement specifies that the car needs to be returned by 14:00 and the rental company offers a one-hour grace period, this means the customer can bring the car back anytime between 14:00 and 15:00 without a penalty.

After the time window has closed, some rental companies start charging customers on an hourly basis for the extra time. For example, if the grace period is one hour and the customer returns the car two hours late, they are charged for the extra hour. In some cases, if the delay exceeds a specific threshold, the rental company might charge for an additional full day, regardless of the actual duration of the delay.

It’s a good practice to notify the rental company as soon as possible if you anticipate being late to avoid incurring extra costs. However, the rules for late returns and any additional fees are at the discretion of the rental supplier, who always outlines the specific conditions in the rental agreement.

Find out more about late returns here.

Example sentence(s):
  • When returning your rental, a grace period of 4 hours between the agreed drop-off time and the actual time the vehicle is returned to the car hire branch will be applied. After this period has lapsed, an additional rental day may be charged.