Renting an RV: Cost and Hidden Fees to Look For

Rental RV driving through the mountains

If the thought of meandering across the country in a recreational vehicle has captured your imagination, you might consider renting a motorhome or travel trailer to see if RVing is everything you dream it might be.  You may even want to explore different floor plans and models to “try them on” before purchasing your own.  If so, we’ve put together a cheat sheet to help you discover how much it costs renting an RV and where you can do so.

Fees & Prices to Consider

There are several fees that are considered additional when renting an RV.  Most are paid through the rental agency, but a few are costs incurred when camping that will be paid directly to the vendors, like campground fees and gasoline fill-ups.

  • Security Deposit (also called a Reservation Deposit) – This amount is set by the owner and based on their cancellation policy.  If the RV is returned on the agreed date and in good condition, you will receive your security deposit back.
  • Campground Rates – These fees are paid to campgrounds or reservation services that you may book.  You are responsible for their payment to the vendors, as they are not usually included in RV rentals.
  • Cleaning fees – Renters agree to return the vehicle in the same shape they received it, and that includes cleanliness.  You can choose to clean it and dump the tanks yourself, or some RV owners offer an additional fee to clean it for you upon return.
  • Setup/Delivery Fees – If you want your RV delivered to your campsite and set up, that is offered in some reservations, but you will need to search for RVs that render that service.  There is an additional fee based on distance and setup options.
  • Gas – You should receive your RV with a full tank of gas and are responsible for purchasing fuel throughout your trip, as well as returning the vehicle with a full tank.
  • Mileage – Generally speaking, most RV rentals include a base number of miles for free, but if a renter goes over that amount, you will be charged a set fee per mile over the allotted number.  The owner establishes the number of free miles included in the reservation.
  • RV Insurance – This coverage is offered on three different levels, including comprehensive and collision, liability, and additional service coverages.  Renters can choose which level best suits their needs in the event of an accident or damage.
  • Trip Insurance – As with private travel insurance, you have the option of purchasing trip insurance from the RV rental agency or setting up your own coverage through outside entities.  The fees listed are additional, as they are not included in the general RV rental agreement.  This insurance covers your cost of the rental trip, if for some reason you need to cancel, with three different types of coverage, including those for trip cancellation, trip interruption, and emergency assistance/transportation.

Commercial Rental vs Private Rental

When you decide to rent an RV, you can do so from private owners or through commercial companies that have their own fleet of trailers, camper vans, and motorhomes.  Here are examples of each:

  • Private owners (also known as Peer-to-Peer rentals) list their RVs through services like Outdoorsy and RV Share.  These companies put owners and renters together and provide insurance coverage, take care of payments, and roadside assistance.  But owners have control over rental agreements and meet directly with renters to hand over the keys and take them on a walk-thru.
  • RV rental agencies have their own fleet of campers to rent.  These would include companies like Cruise America and Escape Camper Vans, and because they own the RVs that are rented, they also do the maintenance and repair on these vehicles, as well as handling cleaning, insurance, and roadside assistance.
Picture showing a RV rental contract

Ways To Save Money On Your RV Rental

Even with all of the additional costs incurred when renting an RV, you can still save some money by following these tips:

  • Peak vs Off-Peak Seasons – Set your dates of travel during off-peak seasons in the region where you will be renting.
  • Peer To Peer Rental Organizations – Many times dealing directly with RV owners through a private rental agency can save some cost.  Owners may be willing to negotiate prices or work with you, and since each owner is considered his own “company,” there are fewer hard and fast rules to follow.
  • Relocation Deals from Commercial Renters – Some companies that own their RVs outright need them moved to another city for rental.  If you can fill that need for them, you may be able to score a great deal on an RV rental.  You would be required to pick the RV up in one location, then turn it in at another, so plan your trip accordingly!
  • Plan And Cook Your Own Meals – Since you will be taking your kitchen along with you on a camping trip, why not make good use of the equipment your RV comes with and fix several of your meals “at home” in the camper.  You’ll experience eating in the wild and save yourself a lot of “dough.”

Renting an RV has become a fashionable and fun way to spend a vacation.  And although it can be a bit on the expensive side, it is still an affordable way to travel.  Join the thousands of people who are discovering the RV lifestyle today.  You may just find that RVing is a much more sustainable (and relaxing) getaway!

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2 comments
  1. I rented an RV before purchasing so I could make sure it was what I wanted. I rented right at Christmas so I believe it was the off season because they had a deal that if you rented for 5 days you get 2 more free!! That was cool – until I had to put gas in it and find more places to camp, lol. I forgot that the longer you have the rental the more it will cost you. BUT it was cool to get the 2 days free, it allowed me time to go slower and really get a feel of the RV. Happy trails!

  2. Thanks for the tip about how I should know beforehand which months are the off-season when looking for RV rentals. My best friend and I have been musing about having a road trip together someday. Perhaps a summer getaway on the countryside would be a blast because driving is one of the ways she likes to relax.

    https://rvrentalstoday.com/services/

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