Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? Guess My Rental Car Bill.

It seems like every time I go to Hawaii, I always learn a valuable financial lesson.

I already shared how, during my recent summer vacation there, I was reminded of why folks should always be on their toes when shopping, as illustrated by two sizes of the same detergent being sold at a local supermarket — and the jaw-dropping price-difference between them.

And although you’d think I’d know better, that wasn’t the only financial head-scratcher I came across there.

After I turned in our rental car I was also reminded why you should never ever take a rental car quote at face value.

When I made my rental car reservation I had secured a minivan for the undeniably fantastic price of $282.50 per week, plus $56.50 for each additional day. I know. I couldn’t believe it either.

Of course, when I was handed the final bill after turning in the car in perfect condition with a full tank of gas, and exactly 8 days and 3 hours of rental time, I was still caught off guard by final bill.

Here are a few more pieces of information to consider:

  • I used one of the major rental car companies
  • I was given unlimited mileage for no additional cost
  • I refused all rental car insurance
  • Hawaii sales tax is 4.166%

With only that information at your disposal … Are you smarter than a 5th grader?

What was my final rental car bill?

If you’re up to the challenge, leave your best guess below and I’ll post the answer later this week in the comments section.

Don’t be shy; like all of my “5th grader” questions, this is not as easy as it looks.

Last month, our defending champion, Deb, showed just how smart my readers really are after nailing the answer to the detergent price question on the button!

As always, the lucky guy or gal who comes closest to guessing the actual price will officially be crowned the “Smartest Person in the Room” until the next “5th Grader” post!

Good luck!

Photo Credit: Jennifer Murawski


  1. 2

    Amanda says

    I came up with the same answer as Spedie, but it cannot be that simple. Surely they slipped some extra fees in there. Maybe a $24.95 fee for cleaning? $49 environmental fee? $35 general service charge?

    So… $520.93?

  2. 3

    CT says

    $501.14. There are often very high fees for airport pickups because local governments or airport personnel figure they can collect high taxes but not be impacted at voting time since the people being taxed are not local. Save at least 10% by renting off-airport if you have the flexibility in your travel (just don’t drop off at the airport or you will pay yet another fee as they have to accommodate additional vehicles not from their fleet)

    Sorry you had such a surprise, but it has to be easier to handle when you’re in paradise, right??

    I enjoy reading your posts!

  3. 13

    Amber says

    282.50 +(56.50 x 2)=$395.50
    Then you’re likely going to have an airport access fee for entry and exit to the airport. Probably in the neighborhood of $25. Takes you up to 420.50.
    Then you’ve got your taxes. First airport taxes, which are ridiculously high. Disclaimer, my husband worked for a major rental car company and did a stint at the airport where total taxes were in the neighborhood of 23%.
    So I’m going to use that percent here to encompass local and airport taxes.

  4. 17

    Randi says

    I got $529.68, but does not include any fees, just rental cost and tax.

    I figure the clientel for most car rental companies is business, they could define their week as a business week 5 days, not 7. If you divide the weekly rate by 5, it is the same as the daily rate, $56.50.

  5. 21

    Lola says

    I’m going to agree with Randi and Belinda re: what constitutes a “week”, but I’m also going to say that those 3 hours were charged as an additional day. Adding in a misc. fees of $76.50 and airport taxes, I’m guessing a grand total of $674.39.

  6. 22

    David says

    (2 x full week @ 282.50) x sales tax 4.166%
    i.e the old you go over one day I charge you a week trick.

  7. 25

    Len Penzo says

    Thank you to everyone who was brave enough to venture a guess! :-)

    The correct answer was $533.59 — which means Belinda R. and Randi will share the honors this month of “Smartest People in the Room” because they each guessed $529.68. Very close!

    Congrats to both of you!

    Here is a breakdown of my final bill:

    Rental (1 week): $282.50
    Rental (1 day): $56.50
    Rental (3 hrs): $56.50
    Customer Facility Charge: $40.50
    Concession Recovery Fee: $43.94
    Rent Tax Surcharge: $27.00
    Vehicle Registration Fee: $8.01
    Sales Tax: $18.64

    TOTAL CHARGES: $533.59

    I think most of you figured out that the rental car company ended up charging me a full day price for those 3 additional hours. For the record, their hourly rate was $18.833333 up to the full-day rate. So I could have saved a few bucks if I had brought the car in an hour earlier, but not much.

    The moral of the story: When budgeting your vacation costs remember that, thanks to partial-day charges and all those fees and taxes, you’re probably going to end up paying somewhere in the neighborhood of an additional 25% – 33% over the price of your basic rental car quote. (And even more than that if you buy their insurance, and consider the cost of gasoline.)

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