The lesson I learned when I lost my driver's licenseOn a recent trip to Florida, I was planning on renting a car, but then I stupidly lost my driver’s license a few days before. So I had to cancel the reservation. What really hurt was the fact that, like a fool, I’d made a “Pay Now” reservation with Avis to save about $15. Well, I learned to never do that again as Avis charged me $50 to cancel the reservation within 24 hours of the scheduled pick-up time. If I didn’t pay that, I would’ve been stuck with the whole fee ($107).

The tip I bring you from that story is to seriously weigh the advantages of pay-in-advance rates. Even when you think you’re 100% going on a trip, or you’re 100% going to need a rental car, things happen. You get sick, there’s bad weather, you lose your license, etc. I don’t think pay-in-advance rates are worth it, especially if you’re only saving a few dollars.

As for my troubles with Avis, I initially tried calling and pleading with a representative but the agent, based in Mexico City, wouldn’t waive the fee and told me that she couldn’t care less if Avis lost me as a customer. (If you ask me, big corporations trying to save money by outsourcing call centers and, even worse, giving them no power, is backfiring.) But when I tweeted my displeasure, the savvy folks on the Avis social media team reached out and refunded me the $50, which was nice. I’m not sure if they would’ve done that for anyone or if it was simply because I have a large following, but in any case the second lesson here is that it’s always worth taking your case to social media. You can also file a claim with your travel insurance provider (I have a yearly plan with Allianz and am one of their global ambassadors).




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7 Comments On "The Lesson I Learned When I Lost My Driver's License"
  1. James Mesthene|

    Why buy Allianz travel insurance when you get it free through your Chase Sapphire Reserved card?

  2. Sales|

    AVIS has some quirks and we have run into them. Last week when renting in Orlando which in the last 6 months have rented over 5 times. They started to ask to a secondary photo ID. Had nothing to do with the Credit card just something with their system. They could not find a manager to override the form. Then they said they would give a free tank of gas for my waiting for over an hour. Never happened. In Aruba they gave our car away and AVIS said nothing they could do. Not sure what car rental is good anymore. Hertz in Orlando is the worst. TSA in Orlando is another headache even with PRECHECK>

  3. R Johnson|

    I have to agree on this. I used to pre pay for hotels, etc as just a leisure traveler. Then I got burned once. So I’ve found it’s better for me to pay a little more to have the flexibility to cancel should things change.

  4. Ray Chartrand|

    I also am fuming after saving a few bucks. I initially booked a rental from SFO airport for this week. A few days later a much lower rate appeared on Priceline
    I checked that it was an airport location & with Priceline paid up front with a no cancel policy
    After receiving confirmation I was told the rental was 6 miles away from the airport & required 2 shuttles to reach. The Uber ride over negated any savings & made it a real hassle

  5. Lou|

    I resently flew back east, and like you I did the prepay option cause it was like $30 or $40 cheaper, but then about 4 weeks before my trip I found a pickup that was $150 cheaper and didn’t have to pay in advance. so I went on the website to see what the cancelation policy was . and the only options were $40 if you canceled 48hr or more , $100 for 24hr , and almost no refund if you canceled at the time of arrival basically. so I pondered and ponded. so I waited til the 48hrs and then canceled the reservations. if I had to pay the same amount. I figured why give them the satisfaction . in the end it cost me the same amount, but I got a new titan, and they filled up my tank . because for a $100 I could bring it back bone dry , and I did, and they wouldn’t charge me :)

  6. Benita Page|

    I learned the hard way about prepaid hotel rooms. I thought I’d save 15% but I ended up losing 100%. And that was after I gave them a three month notice. One night was at the Hilton Heathrow and the other two nights were at a Croatia hotel.

    Another time I prepaid a car rental with Alamo with the assurance that a Toyota Camry would be saved for me (I was arriving at 6 PM). No Camry was available when I arrived.

  7. Gene|

    I have an ID card separate from my drivers license. If I happen to lose my drivers license, I have the backup ID. It has the same number as my DL, so when you run it, it shows active license.

    Not sure how many states this works in, but I renew the ID for $20 every 8 years, we’ll worth the sense of security, and less “illegally” than claiming lost and storing a duplicate license.

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