In a recent blog post we reported that an Idaho bill to slap on a 6% car rental tax was defeated. Citing California’s California Travel and Tourism Commission assessment that tacks several dollars on the ordinary costs of a rental car, consumers have been urged to be aware of added fees (some that are unavoidable) and some that maybe aren’t what they seem.  It is possible to steer clear of car rental mark-ups, thus saving money during your vacation, business travel or even local car rental.

Local taxes, higher rates, more fees and a maze of rules and exclusions make car rentals an expensive proposition for consumers, vacationers and business travelers. When you’re navigating car rentals, search many companies for the cheapest price. There’s no single Web site that always has the best deals and no car category that’s always cheapest. Booking your car weeks or even months in advance allows you to hedge against price increases and best of all, you are not locked into rates (be sure to check penalty clauses, if any, for cancellation.)

State and local governments have targeted car rental-car drivers and could be adding up to 40% more on your bill. For instance,  Los Angeles International and New York’s John F. Kennedy, now charge an airport concession and customer facility fee. Then in California you can add a couple more dollars for California Tourism Commission assessment, which pays for millions of dollars of advertsing, web sites, commericials and marketing that tourists get to pay for the privilege of visiting the golden state.  In Boston rental car drivers pay a $10 fee to fund the city’s convention center. LAX’s fees include $10 for an airport facility that hasn’t been built yet and that won’t be built for years to come.

Government agencies have been able to add these charges with impunity  because they’re levied on rental-car drivers who don’t live or vote in the area. A bill has introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to curb future tax increases on rental cars wouldn’t repeal or reduce current fees, however.

How much does the same car cost to rent in U.S. cities you may visit? A 2-day midsize rental cost +    Additional charges and Here’s what you pay in a  breakdown:

Atlanta $59.98 + $24.88 for additional fees and licenses that include: vehicle licensing, $2.50; airport concession, $6.66; customer facility, $8; tax, $7.72
Boston $111.98 + $33.70 for Vehicle licensing, $4.24; airport concession, $12.43; convention center and parking recovery, $10.60; tax, $6.43
Chicago $63.98+ $14.27 for Motor vehicle licensing tax, $2.75; tax, $11.52
Dallas $49.98+ $35.43 for Busing cost recovery, $7.36; airport concession, $5.55; customer facility charge, $11.38; tax, $11.14
Denver $75.98+ $23.55 for Airport concession, $8.43; facility use, $3.40; tax, $11.72
Los Angeles $97.98+ $32.31 for Airport concession, $10.88; customer facility, $10; CA Tourism Commission assessment, $2.45; tax, $8.98
Miami $81.98+ $26.29 for Customer facility charge, $7.12; airport concession, $8.03; rental surcharge, $4.06; tax, $7.08
New York (JFK) $263.98+ $68.53 for Airport concession, $29.30; tax, $39.23