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Rental cars help make travel, insurance claims, and car repair easier. Unfortunately, not every car is a perfect fit for the person picking it up.

A car rental can typically be exchanged if the renter feels it doesn't fit their needs or doesn't like the car they rented. This is limited by available stock, and companies may charge additional fees for a higher-value rental vehicle.

Whether the car is too small, too big, too flashy, or just not what you like, you can probably change it. Keep reading below for a better understanding of how the rental-exchange process works!

Exchanging A Rental If You Don't Like The Car

If you don't like the car rental you chose, the rental company should have no problem with you exchanging the car.

Remember, the rental company has no personal investment in you keeping or switching cars. They get paid either way. As long as you're respecting the rental rules, communicating clearly, and you're willing to pay any extra costs for upgrading to a nicer vehicle, they will typically let you exchange the car.

Extra Costs for Exchanging a Car

The biggest concern when exchanging a rental car is the price difference. Most companies won't let you rent a BMW at a Yaris price. If the company needs to charge you a little more for a different car, try not to argue or cause too much trouble for the employees. You can ask if they have a cheaper car instead.

In addition to this, you may face extra costs if you keep the car for a day or two instead of exchanging it. There could be cleaning fees or gas refill fees for the previous car, service fees, or other costs that are generally very reasonable and logical.

Cars in Stock

When you exchange a rental car, you will be limited to cars in stock at the company. This means that if another car is already booked, you cannot rent it even if it's in the lot. You may want to check on the available cars before you arrive in case you need to switch to a different car and have a second or third preference in mind if your first choice doesn't work out.

Telling Them Why You're Exchanging The Car

Many people who exchange a car feel a little embarrassed about the situation, even if they have a very reasonable cause for the exchange. They'll try to make up excuses for why they're exchanging or replacing the car.

It's important to know that you don't need to make excuses. If you need to exchange your rental car for any reason, including if you just don't like it, you can tell the company and keep it at that. It really is that simple.

What Is The Process For Exchanging A Rental Car?

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Exchanging a rental car is as easy as picking it up. It can be done online or in person at many locations. To find out the rules for the company you're renting from, it's a good idea to call them or search their website for clarification.

Exchanging the Car Before You Pick It Up

If you haven't picked the car up, changing cars online or checking out cars at the location is easy. You can check out rental websites to see how the process works for each individual company.

The process is as simple as opening the website, changing your reservation to a different car, and paying the fees. Just be sure to pick up the correct car upon arrival since some dealers can take a few minutes to get the updated reservation.

Exchanging The Car After You Pick It Up

Things are a little different if you exchange the car after you've picked it up.

If you exchange the car after you pick it up, you'll likely need to visit in person to explain why you need to change vehicles. This isn't because they'll reject your request, though! It just simplifies the process when you need to return the original car anyways and lets them ensure that you're not just exchanging cars because you broke something.

Call ahead if possible to clarify the company's procedures, drive your current rental car to the building, communicate the problem to the employees, and be prepared to pay a fee for a better car. When you're done, you should be able to drive off and finish your trip without concerns.

For What Reasons Can You Exchange A Rental Car?

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You can exchange a rental car for any reason, as long as cars are in stock and you pay the appropriate extra costs for service and upgrades.

Common reasons for exchanging rental cars include

  • The car being too large
  • The car being too small
  • The car is an unfamiliar model
  • Disliking the rental car's appearance
  • The car's gas mileage is too low
  • Preference for a different car that came into stock
  • Preference for a different color model once you're driving around town
  • No reason; just wanted to try a different car

These are considered perfectly valid reasons for exchanging a rental car. After all, the rental company has no personal investment in you preferring one car over another. They still get paid either way.

Can A Car Rental Company Deny Your Request To Exchange A Car?

Ultimately, every rental company has the right to deny your request to exchange your rental car for another car. It would be highly unusual, but it wouldn't be impossible.

Rental companies might be more likely to deny your request if they are a small company instead of a large national change. Mom and Pop Shops don't have the same variety in their selection, and they might have concerns about switching cars frequently. Again, it would be unlikely, but it isn't unheard of.

More common reasons for denying an exchange of rental would include lack of stock, limitations by an insurance company that is paying for the rental, or bringing the first car back in a poor condition. Any of these will limit your options through external factors outside your preference.