This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader Tony, who made a common mistake while changing a rental car reservation:

Our family made a rental car reservation for a trip to Yosemite National Park. We were flying into San Jose, CA to save on flights, knowing it would be a three-hour drive to the park. Our original reservation was at a downtown location instead of the airport, since the rental was $100 cheaper and only required an $8 Uber ride from the airport.

A month before our trip, I saw a deal through Delta to receive miles and rental car points if I booked through their site, with seemingly fantastic prices from the airport location. We canceled our original reservation and booked through Delta for half the price! Great, right?

All was good until we arrived at the San Jose airport rental car counter to learn that our reservations were not for San Jose, California but for San José, Costa Rica! Our original reservations were in California, but when changing them, we hadn’t caught the finer details of San José, CR versus San Jose, CA. The agent at the counter told us this happens often.

So there we were, renting a car for one week at the last minute (and at the airport, no less), and needing to take a car at whatever cost. That ended up being double what we would have paid with our original reservation. Lesson learned: we’ll check the city AND state/country from now on!

From mixed-up airport codes to confusion over date formatting, stories like Tony’s are common. It’s easy to mistake one letter or number for another, but such a simple error can have a disproportionate impact on your travel plans. That’s why it’s so important to check and re-check your reservations to make sure all your information has been entered correctly. I recommend looking over every last character once before you finalize your booking (especially if you use auto-fill settings online) and again after you receive your confirmation to make sure nothing is amiss. It’s tedious, but that attention to detail can help you avoid more hassle and expense later.

Booking at an off-airport location is an easy way to save on rental cars, since you’ll often find lower rates there, as well as fewer taxes and other surcharges. In my experience, city rental offices tend to also provide superior customer service, since they don’t keep the same frenetic pace as their airport counterparts. On the other hand, they also keep shorter hours, so it’s important to make sure the office you select will be open when you arrive. Priceline and other third parties sometimes get those hours wrong, so you should confirm with the office directly.

I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending Tony a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own travel mistake stories to, and put “Reader Mistake Story” in the subject line. Tell us how things went wrong, and (where applicable) how you made them right. Offer any wisdom you gained from the experience, and explain what the rest of us can do to avoid the same pitfalls.

Feel free to also submit your best travel success stories. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. I look forward to hearing from you, and until then, I wish you a safe and mistake-free journey!

Featured image via Shutterstock.

Know before you go.

News and deals straight to your inbox every day.

2018 TPG Award Winner: Mid-Tier Card of the Year
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card



CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
18.24% - 25.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.