Can You Pick Up a Rental Car Early? Tips for an Earlier Pickup

Picking up your rental car early can have its perks and drawbacks. If you manage to get your car before the scheduled time, you might benefit from extra convenience; however, you should also be prepared for potential changes in rental charges or policies. Understanding the rules and options for early pickup can help you make an informed decision and potentially avoid additional fees.

Understanding Rental Car Pick-Up Policies

When you plan to pick up a rental car, it’s crucial to be aware of the specific policies that rental companies like Avis, Hertz, and Enterprise enforce. Understanding these can help you avoid unexpected fees and ensure a smoother travel experience.

Factors Affecting Early Pick-Up

Rental Company: Each rental company has its own set of early pick-up policies. It’s important that you check the policy particular to the company you’re renting from, as they can vary significantly.

  • Avis: May allow early pick-up, but fees could apply if the timing affects the rental period.
  • Hertz: Similar to Avis, Hertz might accommodate an early arrival, though additional charges are possible based on the rental terms.
  • Enterprise: Typically flexible, but it’s best to confirm directly regarding any potential costs for early pick-up.

Availability of the Vehicle: If your vehicle is not yet ready or available, you might need to wait or choose a different car, potentially at a different rate.

Communication: Always inform the rental agency of any changes to your schedule to increase the likelihood that they can accommodate your request.

Understanding the 24-Hour Rental Clock

Most rental car companies operate on a 24-hour rental clock. This means that your rental period is based on exact 24-hour increments, starting from the time you pick up the car.

  • If you pick up your car early, this could start your rental clock sooner than anticipated, potentially leading to an additional day’s charge.
  • It’s beneficial to understand the policies regarding how each company calculates the start and end of your rental period.

By knowing these factors, you can better plan your trip and avoid any surprise fees related to an early pick-up from rental companies.

Early Pick-Up Process and Availability

When you’re planning to pick up a rental car, knowing the ins and outs of the early pick-up process can save you time and stress. It’s crucial to understand when early pick-up is an option and how to effectively communicate with the rental company.

Checking Availability for Early Pick-Up

First, check the availability for early pick-up with your chosen rental company. During high-demand periods, such as holidays or special events, rental locations may experience a tighter inventory, making early pick-up more challenging. It’s wise to inquire ahead of time to confirm if your rental can be prepared earlier than the originally scheduled time.

  • Tip: Call or check online for early pick-up policies specific to your rental location.

Communication with Rental Company

Communication is key. Make sure to reach out to the rental company directly to discuss early pick-up possibilities. Provide them with your reservation details and express your desired pick-up time.

This can often be done via the company’s customer service line or through their online platforms. Remember to be precise in your request and to confirm any potential changes in pricing or terms.

Fees and Additional Charges

When you’re planning to pick up your rental car early, it’s important to understand how this can affect the cost of your rental. Additional charges may apply, so it’s essential to be aware of the potential fees, especially regarding early pick-up and extra day charges.

Understanding Extra Day and Early Pick-Up Charges

If you’re looking to grab your rental car ahead of schedule, be prepared that this might lead to extra charges. Some rental companies view an early pick-up as the start of a new rental day.

Therefore, picking up just a few hours prior to the scheduled time could result in being billed for an extra day. Always check with your rental provider to confirm their policy on early pick-ups to avoid unexpected fees.

Avoiding Additional Fees

To prevent unnecessary additional fees, it’s wise to read through your rental agreement thoroughly before agreeing to an early pick-up. Most companies offer a certain level of flexibility, but it’s better to confirm the details than assume.

Keeping to your arranged pick-up time is the most straightforward way to avoid extra charges. Keep in mind, returning the vehicle late can also result in additional fees, so plan your schedule accordingly to return the car on time.

Making Changes to Your Reservation

When you want to pick up your rental car outside the original schedule, it’s crucial to revise your reservation time and ensure you have all necessary documents for the change. Adjusting your pick-up time can sometimes affect your rental rates, so proceed with attention to detail.

Reservation Time Modification

Modifying the reservation time can be convenient when your plans change. Here’s how to adjust your pick-up time:

  • Contact the rental agency: Do this as soon as you know your schedule has changed.
  • Use online services: If available, modify your reservation through the rental company’s website.
  • Rental rates: Be aware that picking up your car earlier than planned might alter your original quoted rental rates.

Keep in mind, adjustment policies vary by company. Some might allow a change with no fee, while others might charge extra.

Necessary Documents for Changing Pick-Up Time

Having your necessary documents in order when modifying your pick-up time streamlines the process. You’ll need:

  • A valid driver’s license that matches the name on the reservation.
  • The credit card used for the booking, for verification and any additional charges.
  • Your reservation confirmation number, to speed up the lookup of your booking.

Always double-check with the rental agency ahead of time to confirm if any additional documentation is required for early pick-up.

Pick-Up and Return Logistics

When you’re planning to rent a car, understanding the specifics of pick-up and return procedures at various locations will ensure a smooth start and end to your journey.

Airport vs Non-Airport Locations

Airport Locations: At an airport location, convenience is key. You can usually find rental counters either inside or very close to the terminal, which means you can step off your flight and head straight to your car. Be mindful of airport-specific protocols, which might differ from other locations. For example, arriving early at an airport rental location might have different implications for your rental terms.

Non-Airport Locations: These spots often have more flexible hours and may be more accommodating if you need to pick up a rental car outside of your scheduled time. However, you’ll need to factor in travel time to these locations from the airport or your accommodation.

Coordinating Pick-Up and Return Times

  • Pick-Up Times: You’ll need to coordinate your pick-up time closely with your travel plans. This minimizes wait times and ensures your vehicle is ready when you are. Remember, some rentals might allow for an early pickup if your location allows it and inventory is available.
  • Return Policies: When planning to return a rental car, check if the location supports after-hours returns and if there are secure drop-boxes for keys. If you’re flying out, choose an airport location close to your terminal to save time. Adhering to your scheduled return time is crucial; otherwise, additional charges might apply as detailed in the individual return policies.


In summary, when considering the possibility of an early pick-up for your rental car, here are a few key points to keep in mind:

  1. Policies Vary: Different rental companies have their own specific policies regarding early pick-ups. It’s essential to check ahead with the company from which you’re renting.
  2. Availability Is Key: Even if early pick-ups are allowed, they are subject to the availability of vehicles at the time you wish to pick up. Weekends and holidays may be especially tricky due to higher demand.
  3. Potential Fees: Some companies may charge additional fees for early pick-up. Always confirm any additional costs when adjusting your pick-up time.
  4. Documentation: Have all necessary documentation, like your driver’s license and credit card, ready to present. This can help expedite the process, as advised by
  5. Airport Rentals: If you’re picking up a car at an airport, remember to factor in transit time from the terminal to the rental counter.

Following these tips can help you with a smooth start to your journey.

  • Joshua Smith

    I am Joshua Smith, a seasoned expert in car rentals, with a wealth of experience and knowledge spanning over ten years. My passion is to share insider tips, savvy tricks, and in-depth reviews to guide you effortlessly through the intricacies of vehicle leasing.

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