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Rental car services are one of the convenient ways of skipping expensive car hail services and paying less to explore a city on your own time. With the wide variety of rental cars to choose from, you may become comfortable in the brand-new car you're exploring a city with. Hours and days passed, and your fees are late. What happens if you don't pay for your rental car?

If you don't pay for your rental car, they may send it to collections, file a lawsuit or report it to the police as theft. A criminal charge will need more intent. If a person believed they could have paid, it would not be theft. However, it is considered theft if the person has no income source.

Not paying for your rental car could get you in some serious trouble. Each car sharing or car rental company has different approaches to not receiving payment, and knowing these might help you get out of a sticky situation. Continue reading as we discuss what happens if you fail to pay for your rental car.

What Could Happen If You Do Not Pay For Your Rental Car?

There is a fine line between renting and stealing a vehicle. If you steal a vehicle, it is generally classified as “grand theft auto” or “grand larceny of a vehicle.”

However, when it comes to the crime of stealing a rental vehicle, it is typically considered a form of embezzlement.

The embezzlement of a rental vehicle is stated as a person who has willfully rented a vehicle for a certain amount of time and intentionally fails to pay the liable fees to the owner or car rental company within the first 72 hours of the rental agreement expiration date.

Luckily, most car rental companies, such as Turo, Zipcar, and Hyrecar, offer their clients a grace period between 29 minutes and two and a half hours.

If you realize you may be late with your car rental payment, you need to contact the rental company as soon as possible. Many car rental companies can charge their client late fees, which could quickly pile up if the fees are charged by the hour.

Stealing a rental car is classified as a felony, and it does not matter whether it's embezzlement of a vehicle or grand theft auto. If it is your first offense for vehicle embezzlement or not paying for your rental car after contact, it is classified as a category C felony.

A category C felony can carry a sentence of imprisonment of between one and five years. You will also be liable for a fine of up to $5,000. A second category C offense will bring an even stronger punishment within five years.

In this situation, you will only have two primary defenses, the first being a lack of intent to steal. You may own up that you cannot pay for the rented vehicle but didn't intend to keep it in your possession.

Your second offense would be that you gained consent from the owner. You can claim that you misunderstood when you called in to request an extension, and the fees may have been a record-keeping error.

Car Rental Agencies' Steps Against Failing To Pay For A Rental Car

As mentioned briefly above, car rental agencies will have different approaches if clients fail to pay for their rental car.

Let's view some of the largest car rental companies and what you may be faced with if you do not pay for your rental car:

Turo's Approach To Clients Not Paying For Their Rental Car

Usually, Turo has a late return fee. If a vehicle is returned after two hours or more past the scheduled time of the trip, the host could charge you an extra fee of $20.

This will be in addition to the cost of your additional uses of the specific vehicle.

However, suppose you completely fail to pay for your rental car on Turo. In that case, they, and the collection agencies they are partnered with, may report information about your Turo Account to credit bureaus.

As a result, any of your missed or late payments and other defaults on your Turo Account will be visible on your credit report.

Zipcar's Approach To Clients Not Paying For A Rental Car

Zipcar will send you a bill for any included late payment fees, and you will be contacted by their collection agency.

If you refuse to comply with Zipcar's approach, you will not only risk a suspension of your Zipcar membership, but it will affect your credit score, and you may face criminal charges and/or penalties.

Hyrecar's Approach To Client's Not Paying For A Rental Car

Suppose you, as the renter, are past due on a rental car and remain unresponsive. In that case, the owner of the rental car will immediately report the issue to HyreCar for extra assistance.

While HyreCar works to understand that some car renters may be willing to work with them if they fall behind on payments, the unpaid days will not be covered by insurance plans, no matter which one you have chosen.

If the owner of the car instructs you to maintain possession of the rented vehicle past the due date despite your lack of payment, they are encouraging the risk that the rental car will be left unpaid.

At any time, should you be more than four days late on your rental car fees, HyreCar will request a stolen vehicle report from the owner of the rental car.

If there were no stolen vehicle report issues before the rental car reaches overdue payments of ten days or more, you would receive a five-day notice from HyreCar impending either rental cancellation or impending insurance.

You can be charged with a criminal offense for not complying, and the owner of the rental car will receive a formal notice of rental completion.

The owner will also receive an end-of-coverage request after more than 15 days of non-compliance with HyreCar's rental and terms of service agreements.


When it comes to being unable to pay for your rental car, additional late fees and costs will pile up quickly. Always read any car rental terms and conditions carefully, and pay for your vehicle, as you may face serious charges and penalties if you don't!