Cost and Fee Guide to Rental Equipment

When you go to rent a piece of equipment you might ask yourself "What is a damage protection policy?" or "What the heck is an environmental fee?" Construction rental companies are known for charging many fees that at times may seem cumbersome or esoteric. Here we will dissect what some of these costs are and what they mean.

1. Base Price

The first and single most costly fee is the base cost of renting the equipment. Depending on the supplier and your timeline for the equipment it may be cheaper to rent at a weekly or even monthly rate rather than a daily rate. For example a scissor lift near San Francisco can be rented for around $100/day, $200/week, or $700/month.

The base price is primarily determined by supply and demand dynamics in the equipment marketplace. If the current construction market is booming, rental construction base prices may be driven up as fewer pieces are remaining idle in suppliers warehouses. Likewise if a particular piece of equipment is a rare piece, the rental price of this equipment may be slightly higher than a more commonly utilized piece.

2. Delivery Price

Unless you plan on going to the equipment supplier yourself and picking up the needed equipment, the only other option is to get the equipment delivered to you. Delivery price schedules usually follow the pattern of being fixed within a certain radius from the supplier's shop. Once a max distance has been reached the supplier then charges a variable fee depending on the additional distance according to some predetermined formula.

This fee highlights the importance of researching suppliers that are closest in physical location to the job site and knowing the delivery price policy of those suppliers. For San Francisco a rule of thumb in regards to delivery costs is $125 each way for delivery within 50 miles of the rental supplier.

3. Environmental Fees

The environmental fee is an optional fee that is not government mandated and is charged to offset the wide range of environmental expenses an equipment provider may incur. As rental companies deal with many environmentally harmful materials including fuel, oil, and cleaners, they have a high risk of directly or directly incurring environmental harm. In order to offset this risk some rental companies charge an environmental fee which is usually a flat fee attached to larger pieces of equipment. The revenue from this fee is used to fund procedures (such as waste run off disposal) that are compliant with federal, state, and local environmental regulations.

4. Fuel Payment

Rental companies usually have multiple policies when it comes to charging for the fuel. Some companies have a "Return Full Option" which means the equipment is returned full of fuel (you refueled it to max capacity). A common secondary option is the choice to "Pay on Return" which means that you pay for the fuel used according to the supplier's fuel charge policy.

Depending on the amount of fuel used and the rental supplier's fuel charge policy it may be cheaper to refuel the equipment yourself. Ensure you understand the fueling policies if you do wish to fuel the equipment yourself.

5. Rental Protection Fees

Some rental companies offer an optional fee for a protection plan on the rented equipment. Commonly this is referred to as a "damage protection" or "rental protection plan". Not to be confused with an insurance policy, these plans are optional add-ons that can offset costs in the event the equipment you rent is damaged.

The terms of these plans can differ depending on the rental supplier. An example term of the protection plan would be no charge for repair cost up to $250. Be sure to read the supplier's terms and conditions regarding the protection plan and gauge whether it is worth the additional charge.


Overall, it is important to understand the full price of the equipment you're renting, as many companies only advertise their base prices. When weighing which rental supplier to go with, be sure to get confirmation of the full out-the-door price. is a great resource that lets you compare multiple suppliers and get true out-the-door pricing in order to make sure you're getting the best deal.


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