What is the Best Car Rental Company?
“Best” is relative term when it comes to finding the best car rental company; one-size-fits-all doesn’t apply here. Some people are looking for convenience, while others want the best bang for their buck and still, other travelers want superior customer service.
Brand loyalty and rewards programs also play a significant role in car rental preference. With that in mind, we have compiled a list of the best car rental companies in specific areas for you to check out.
1. Enterprise — Best Car Rental for Customer Service
Enterprise topped the J.D. Power “2021 North America Rental Car Satisfaction Study,” scoring 861, 31 points higher than the industry average of 830. Interestingly, only two others, National and Alamo, ranked above the industry average.
Part of Enterprise’s popularity is accessibility. With over 7,600 locations, you can count on finding Enterprise at every airport, major metropolitan area and resort destination in America.
In addition, their four-tier rewards program Enterprise Plus allows members to use points for upgrades and free rental days and provides faster members-only check-ins and a private members-only customer service number.
Then there is the pricing. Enterprise had the lowest weekly rental rate — of the eight brands surveyed in NerdWallet’s report on car rental pricing for — of $480.
2. Alamo — Best Car Rental for Unlimited Mileage and Second Driver Rates
Suppose you are hitting the open road with a companion or group; in that case, Alamo offers unlimited mileage and waives the $15 fee for an additional driver if they are a spouse of the primary driver.
Likewise, if you have a corporate contract, the additional driver fee is waived for a business partner or associate. Furthermore, you automatically get a 5% discount off retail rates if you are an Alamo Insider program rewards member.
In addition, discounts and free upgrades are offered to active-duty military and AAA members. On average Alamo’s weekly rental is $589.
3. Hertz — Best Airport Locations
Hertz is the largest car rental company in the world. So, it’s not surprising that they have locations at over 1,600 airports in America alone.
What this means is when you fly into small and regional airports like Beloit, WI, Sioux City, IA and Newport, VT, you’ll find a Hertz office. One feature that makes Hertz attractive is the wide range of rental classes.
There are the standard business class, high-capacity vehicles for families and budget compacts for economy shoppers. In addition, at selected locations, Hertz offers a selection of electric cars from Tesla and luxury rides from Mercedes and BMW.
That said, Hertz has had difficulty restocking its fleet, resulting in frequent shortages of popular vehicles. The average weekly rental for a sub-compact from Hertz is $559. The company offers up to a 30% discount for prepaid reservations and a 20% discount for AAA members.
4. National Car Rental — Best Car Rental Agency for Avoiding One-Way Drop-off Fees
Every car rental company adds fees for additional equipment you may need, like car seats, ski racks and GPS devices. National is no exception; however, there is one fee that can be quite hefty that National does not charge for.
If you rent from one location and turn the vehicle in at a different location, most companies will charge the cost of returning the car to the original location. National does not charge a one-way drop-off fee if you rent and return to airport offices.
National’s Emerald Club loyalty program does have a couple of nice perks for members, the most popular being the ability to select any car quickly and easily in the Emerald Aisle section at a midsize car rate.
Frequent rentals are rewarded with upgrades and free rental days. On the downside, National has the highest weekly rental rate of the eight companies surveyed at $695.
Please keep in mind that our rankings are based on general information. Experiences may vary widely based on the market, time of year and whether you are booking direct or through a travel site. If you thought airlines had complicated pricing and rules, they don’t hold a candle to the rental car industry.