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Should you rent an electric car for your next vacation? This is how much you can save

Should you rent an electric car for your next vacation? This is how much you can save
Should you rent an electric car for your next vacation? This is how much you can save

Berki Alin / iStock.com

Berki Alin / iStock.com

Travel season is in full swing, which means many Americans are planning road trips in the next few months. If you’re one of them, you may be wondering if renting an electric car would be cheaper than paying for gas, which averaged $3.45 per gallon as of June 24, according to Statista.

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But gas isn’t the only cost you should consider. Here’s a look at the cost of renting an electric vehicle and whether it can save you money.

Renting electric vehicles may become more expensive

In addition to saving on gas, electric vehicles are fun and make for a debt-free vacation because they reduce your carbon footprint. However, rental fees are typically higher than those for gasoline-powered vehicles, according to AAA. While the exact price of renting an electric vehicle depends on the make and model, you can get a nice discount with a AAA membership or credit card rewards program.

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Costs for charging electric vehicles

Before you travel, find out the cost of charging and how often you need to charge.

“You can expect to pay about $0.05 per mile to charge your electric vehicle, compared to $0.13 per mile to fill up your gas car,” says EnergySage. That’s a savings of about $40 on a 500-mile trip in an electric vehicle. But charging costs depend on location, the electric vehicle’s battery and the power source, so it can be difficult to accurately calculate in advance.

Petrol price vs. electric car price

There are more cost-effective options for renting gas-powered cars, but gas prices can add up, as the comparisons below from EnergySage show.

  • Compact hatchbacks

    • Cost of the Nissan Leaf EV: 4.9 cents per mile

    • Gasoline cost for the Toyota Corolla hatchback: 9.4 cents per mile

    • Average savings on a 500-mile trip: $22.50

  • Compact sedans

    • Cost for Tesla Model 3 EV: 4.2 cents per mile

    • Gasoline cost for Honda Civic LX: 9.4 cents per mile

    • Average savings on a 500-mile trip: $26

  • Mid-size SUV

    • Hyundai IONIQ 5 EV cost: 5.7 cents per mile

    • Gasoline costs for the Kia Telluride AWD: 14.9 cents per mile

    • Average savings on a 500-mile trip: $46

Hidden fees for electric vehicles

While renting an electric vehicle can be cheaper because you don’t have to worry about filling up at an expensive gas station, there are hidden fees to be aware of.

One of them is charging fees. Budget Car Rental, for example, charges $35 if an electric vehicle is returned with less than 70 percent charge, reports Travelers United. Other companies charge a minimum of 75 percent and even higher fees.

Also, you must unplug your electric vehicle after charging and move it away from the charger. If you are distracted or forget to do this, car rental companies will charge a hefty idle fee.

“Idle charges can range from $1.00 to $1.50 per minute,” says Travelers United. “That’s $60 to $90 per hour if you accidentally fall asleep and are late taking your electric vehicle out of the charging station.”

Bottom line

Renting an electric vehicle can save you money, especially on long trips. To further reduce costs, plan your route in advance and find out about charging stations along the way using apps like PlugShare.

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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Should you rent an electric car for your next vacation? Here’s how much you’ll save

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