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The Best Car Rental Companies in 2019

Whether you are planning to visit your family for a special occasion, you want to travel the world by car during the summer or you simply want to enjoy the driving experience in a new car, a rental is the best option that you have. Renting a car might sound easy, but you know what is not easy? Finding a company that offers a lot of benefits, that has quick processing time and that offers good cars at affordable prices. To make it easier for you to find what you are looking for, we have selected the 6 top car rental companies and a buying guide that will show you exactly what to do and what to avoid in the process.

1.Enterprise Car Rental

Enterprise Car Rental

Our favorite choice shouldn’t be a surprise, giving the fact that this company has demonstrated its effectiveness and has helped drivers from all over the U.S, U.K and Canada get rental cars at affordable prices at all times. Enterprise Car Rental is present in over 6,000 locations and offers its customers self-service kiosks, as well as a customer support staff that treats everyone equally and fairly. Thanks to the staff’s experience and ability to handle difficult situations, most customers are extremely satisfied by the company and usually return to its rental cars.

Enterprise is well-known for the variety of four-door and five-seater SUV models that clients can choose from. Minivans are also present in their fleet, even though their number is much lower. If you need one for your trips with your family, calling a few weeks ahead would help you find at least one model available for booking.

This company offers more than a large fleet and good rental cars. It is capable to meet its customers’ needs end-to-end. One of the great things that it has to offer is the unlimited mileage package. Another benefit that you will love is the out-of-state travel and multi-renter option. More than that, it has more positive reviews than any other company when it comes to the airport shuttle service. Customers who have used it noticed courteous behavior and on-time service.

  • Competent, polite staff
  • Some of the lowest rates at airports
  • Affordable packages for car upgrade
  • Self-service for easy and fast pick-up
  • Excellent airport shuttle services
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2.Hertz Car Rental

Hertz Car Rental

Enterprise might be our favorite option, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any other top-notch companies that offer excellent car rental services. Hertz, for instance, a company larger than Enterprise, with even more locations and a larger fleet, has great services and vehicles to offer. It is highly appreciated for the large number of compact cars it has. At the same time, it has quick drop-off option, impeccable airport shuttle services, as well as professional customer service that make you return to them every single time you need a rental car.

What is even more important than the credibility and the huge number of positive reviews that this company has is its constant focus on technical quality and performance. Its staff performs performance and reliability tests regularly, so that every customer can feel safe behind the wheel. Price-wise, there are many reasons why those who need rental cars turn to this company instead of others. Rates are usually low, but besides that, Hertz also has a list of coupons and discounts on their website, meaning that everyone can access them easily. It even has a reward system that allows you to transfer points to your family or friends.

  • Smart reward points system available for Hertz’s customers
  • Discounts and coupons available on the website
  • Wide variety of inexpensive four-door vehicles
  • 10,000 locations spread across the world
  • Fast drop-off options
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3.National Car Rental

National Car Rental

Although present in 1500 locations throughout the world, National Car Rental is not the largest car rental company on the market, but it is positioned third, which brings some of its success. It has built a reputation around good customer service, unique services and their loyalty program. This company brings an online configuration tool that allows you to choose all the desired options for your rental car, just like buying one. Due to the fact that they have quite strong competitors, they need to offer excellent services in order to resist in this top. Another important element that helps National Car Rental keep a good reputation is the pricing. The company offers some of the lowest daily prices.

Just like the other car rental companies, National Car Rental has understood the importance of impeccable customer service. Although it has some logistic issues, by comparison to Hertz or Enterprise, it has well-trained personnel that is ready to intervene every single time a challenge arises. If you visit NCR online, you will find some negative reviews, too, but you will notice that everyone is completely satisfied with the customer service that it offers. What makes this company worth your money is their flexibility: it doesn’t apply penalties in case of cancellations, or at least not as strictly as the other two companies.

  • More than 1500 locations across the globe
  • Various promotions for free rental days
  • Excellent customer service
  • Competitive prices, some of the lowest nationwide
  • Good cancellation windows
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4.Alamo Car Rental

Alamo Car Rental

For a company that has great customer service and high-quality vehicles to rent, Alamo has limited locations, which makes it almost invisible in front of the competition. It is present in 250 locations in the U.S, meaning that even though it would be your favorite car rental service, you wouldn’t be able to work with them every time you travel for whatever purpose. However, it is a positive company that reflects its values towards the market through its customer service team.

Despite its low number of locations and smaller fleet, Alamo offers its customers a lot of perks that make the service more attractive. It has a basic loyalty program, but you get a 5% discount every time you book a car through their website. More than that, they offer some of the best daily prices in the U.S. One of Alamo’s advantages is the fact that it has positioned its locations near airports. If you happen to be nowhere near one, you can use their shuttle service in order to reach the office. This is something that most customers appreciate, especially when they don’t have another car at their disposal and cannot use other means of transportation, either.

  • Online booking option using mobile platform
  • Discounts when renting online
  • Low daily prices comparing to the national average
  • Shuttle service for customers
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5.Budget

Budget

Dedicated to great customer service, Budget is a car rental service that can help you find almost any type of vehicle that you might need, from compact cars, to trucks and minivans. It offers an online booking platform that brings in a high number of options and that is user friendly. This company is even smaller than Alamo, judging by the number of locations it is present in, as well as by its fleet. Even so, it has a strong online presence, a website that is responsive and that helps you finish booking your car is a matter of seconds.

Long-term rentals come with 10% discount. Other types of discounts are available for veterans and AARP members. More than that, it has partnered with several other programs, in order to offer more perks to its customers. All of this information can be found on their online platform. Budget offers rental cars at prices 8% lower than the average companies in the U.S. More importantly, its fleet contains good cars. As for the customer service, Budget accepts no compromises in this area, offering its customers the best assistance.

  • Discounts for military and AARP
  • Very low rates for long-term rental cars
  • Discounts for monthly rentals
  • Compact cars, trucks, SUVs, minivans available for rent
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6.Avis

Avis

The last company in our list is Avis, a company that puts a lot of emphasis on customer service. It has a lot to offer its customers, even though it is not among the first three car rental companies in this top. It offers nice discounts for long-week rentals and has great deals generally, for longer periods of time. It doesn’t score too well in one area, though: one-day rates are slightly higher than what the other companies in this list have to offer. On the other hand, Avis allows you to add an additional driver at lower costs than other companies. The fact that it offer loyalty membership and gives you the chance to upgrade to Preferred Plus is great, as you get the chance to receive complimentary upgrades, too.

Traveling by car on long-distances is often easier and more pleasant when there are at least two registered drivers in the car. If you are planning to switch seats a lot, you will love renting from Avis, as they offer an additional sign-in at only $13. Customers who travel a lot by airplane appreciate the shuttle service that the company offers. This isn’t the only pick-up service that the company offers, though. You can be picked-up from several locations that you must mention during the booking process. This way, you won’t have to spend your money on cabs anymore.

  • Competitive weekly rates
  • Preferred Plus membership comes with free upgrades
  • More than 1900 locations present throughout the U.S
  • Pick-up shuttle available
  • Excellent second driver fees
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Best Car Rental Company FAQ

These are the car rental companies that stand out of the crowd, so if you are looking to rent a car these days, these six will not let you down. Besides knowing that there are great companies out there that can serve you when you need an affordable rental car immediately, there are other important details that you should be aware of before reserving one. Online booking has become the favorite reservation method of drivers throughout the world. There are several reasons for that: lower prices, time saving, a variety of benefits and discounts and more. Before doing that, let’s analyze the best car rental prices, the deals that different companies can offer and get you in a car right away.

How we select the best car rental company?

Declaring a car rental company the best in its class is not easy, as various factors have to be taken into consideration. To make it easier to reach to a conclusion, we have summarized all these factors in 5 categories that can be analyzed below. Companies that offer rent-a-car services but do not fulfill all of these conditions aren’t to be avoided, but they might not be compatible with your needs. More than that, they might have other services and perks to offer that compensate.

  • Customer Service

This is a crucial factor and is not to be ignored regardless of the size of the company or the size of the fleet. Car rentals come at a price that most people wouldn’t pay for every day, which means that if you pay a high amount, you at least expect the staff to treat you impeccably. Enterprise and Hertz are two of the well-reputed companies, known for their exquisite customer service and managerial staff, capable or minimizing errors and of treating all customers equally, with the deserved respect. Are you curious to see how these two companies are treating customers on a daily basis? Give them a random call, asking a few typical questions to see if you are satisfied with the approach. These six picks that we have just presented will make a very good impression, we can bet on that.

  • Online presence

Nowadays, a company that doesn’t have a website doesn’t exist. While analyzing these 6 companies, we have looked at their online presence, as we consider it to be an important factor. Making a call, talking to someone for 10 minutes to reserve a car and having to wait for a manually written email that contains the reservation details is so outdated. Every respectable car rental company must have a user friendly, mobile optimized website that you can access to make your reservation instantly. When checking out these websites, pay attention at the accuracy of the rates and local information. Also, see how clearly the customer support details are stated.

  • Opening times

Companies that are open 24/7 are way more successful than those with early closing times. Having to wait until the next day after your flight to rent a car and continue with your schedule is so not compatible with our century. Therefore, we take into consideration the mentality and values that these companies are promoting when making the selection. No matter how much you want to fly during the day, in a regular hour interval, it simply can’t happen sometimes. These companies that have flexible opening times and offer pick-up services regardless of the time deserve all credit for the great work they are doing.

  • Loyalty programs

It is unusual for a large car rental company not to have a major loyalty program or a reward system of some kind. These programs are usually comprised of point systems, discounts, free rentals or free upgrade programs. This is a great deal for someone who finds a car rental company that they love and choose to use its services repeatedly. If you want to choose a company to work with on a regular basis and you are looking to make your choices based on such a program, you should compare them objectively, as they all have something good to offer.

  • Versatility

If you are one of those persons who travel for business purposes in multiple locations regularly, you will probably be delighted if you will be able to work with a company that offers a versatile loyalty program. This means that you could be a part of such a program and enjoy the benefits regardless of the location that you choose to use at a particular time. Most of these companies have over 1500 locations in the U.S, so practically speaking, it would be only reasonable to not depend on one location only. What you want to be careful about is whether the company you are choosing is a chain or a franchise. If they are independent operators that simply carry the same name, they might have to follow different guidelines. In case this is something that triggers your attention, make sure that you ask a few questions before starting a collaboration.

How much do you need to spend on a rental car?

The daily cost of a rental car in the U.S is $80 per day, roughly, but can reach $49 during holiday seasons. This price can be influenced by a number of factors that we will be analyzing in the paragraphs to come. We should mention that this is the regular average cost for a four-door sedan car. The amount does not include taxes, insurances and fees. Also, you should keep in mind the fact that airport prices differ.

If it is not a four-door sedan that you are looking to rent, but a minivan or a larger vehicle, maybe a luxury one, you probably already know that the costs are higher. The car’s initial cost isn’t the only reason for that. Maintenance, the time, funding and more, force car rental companies to raise the prices. Most companies add between $20 and $30 per day for these types of cars.

Renting from an airport location can be more convenient, from every angle. These cars are usually inexpensive, especially if you choose intervals longer than 3 days, including the weekends. Rental cars at only $19 can be found in some airports, but there’s a catch. Most of these companies have a number of basic cars in stock that they can rent right there and then. If you need a car that ranks higher than standard, even luxury, you will have to request it before your arrival. The costs will obviously increase.

Another important factor that can influence the car’s price is your age. Drivers who aren’t 25 years old yet will often receive higher offers than drivers over 25. This is a general rule and it cannot be altered, regardless of the circumstances. Some drivers argue that they got the driver’s license when they were 16 or that they have a specific type of education. None of these things matter when it comes to car renting. Studies show that drivers under the age of 25 are more likely to be involved in an accident and way more likely to total a car. To avoid the risk of losing a lot of money, car rental companies inflate the prices for this category of customers.

Depending on the guidelines these companies have to follow, as well as on their marketing strategies, it might happen that the rental cost changes on the website right after inputting your age. To test this, you simply have to open a new page, fill in the form again and change the birth year. Remember that even though you have this information now, you are still required to be honest and transparent regarding your age. An ID will be requested anyway at the moment of signing. This strategy simply helps you understand if a company is upselling the car you are trying to rent.

To conclude, the daily cost of a rental car in the U.S depends on the state you are in, you age, the car type you want to travel in, the technical specifications, the period of time and more. In lack of a special promotion, calculating the final price of a rental is easy. You simply have to double the initially displayed price (which only represents the price of the car). the taxes, fees and insurance usually reach that same amount.

Dos and don’ts when renting a car

When renting a car, it is important to remember that this action involves spending money. Therefore, you should be as cautious as you would be in any other similar context. There are a few things that you should and should not do when renting a car. Here are a few of the things that you should consider doing and others that you should forget about:

  • Search for your rental car online rather than making phone calls

There are several benefits to online search, regardless of the product or service. Saving time and energy is only one of them. When it comes to car rental companies, there are other things to be considered, too. The pricing is one of these extremely important factors that should determine you to go online. Walk-in discounts and bonuses will never be as attractive as the prices you find online for a simple reason: it is a normal business like any other and the main objective of the company is to obtain profit. In-store prices are usually higher than what you can find online, regardless of the business. Online browsing will also help you compare the options easily, at your own pace, on the same website or different ones.

  • Return the car during the agreed time interval

Due to the same reason, car rental companies have a lot of penalties, late fees and what not, that can be applied in a wide variety of situations. Try reading the contracts that you are signing and you will see that they have the right to charge you for almost any slight mistake. While some companies are more permissive and the staff friendlier, some follow strict rules. Instead of hoping for your errors to be ignored, it is better to always arrive on time.

  • Write down or take a picture of the mileage

No matter how well you know the company you are renting your cars from, you must never offer them absolute trust. There are companies with high mileage rates on the vehicles and companies that charge for driving the car out of the city of the state. It is important to write down the mileage or take a picture of it, as it is to clarify the fees for the above mentioned situations. At least you will know what you are paying for and will not be surprised when the invoice comes.

  • Do some research

Enterprise is our top pick, giving the fact that we analyzed these companies based on what we believe are the general needs of drivers. It is important to take a step back, though, and see if those needs are compatible with yours. Do not make the mistake of assuming that a specific car is a great deal without comparing it to others from other companies first. Look at all your aspects of interest and see how much of the displayed price actually covers for those needs.

  • Choose the full insurance

Paying for full insurance might seem like throwing money out of the window, but the reality is that not doing it is too risky. You don’t get involved in an accident every day. Maybe you never did. Even so, you never know when a drunk driver, an unexperienced one or a person who doesn’t pay attention crashes your car. Unless you have a personal car with a killer insurance that includes rental coverage, you shouldn’t skip this. You are doing it for your own safety.

  • Let go of the GPS

GPS used to be extremely helpful between the moment we stopped using maps so much and the moment smartphones became available for everyone. Nowadays, they don’t even come close to the efficiency that we need. Smartphones can be used instead of GPS devices and guess what: all the GPS apps are free. There’s more to it: GPS devices receive their updates with delay, so whenever a road gets closed, is in construction or traffic is building up, using a phone app will be so much more practical. Accept using the GPS only in case it is integrated into the dashboard of the car. Otherwise, you really don’t need to pay about $19 per day for this system.

Advice for online car renting

So far, we have been analyzing the things that you should and should not be doing when renting a car, so that your full experience can be pleasant and practical. We have discussed very little about the online rental process itself, though. Renting a car online is easy and fast, nothing compared to what it meant for drivers only a few years back. Even so, there are a few things that you should know in order to avoid getting trapped in the system.

  • Check if you can be included in a reward system

Depending on the credit card that you are using, you might be eligible for discounts and bonuses for services such as flights or car rentals. It is advisable to check this before renting a car. You might be able to join a loyalty program and gain some points right away, which will help you save some money in the future.

  • Join a loyalty program if available

Think about the frequency with which you rent a car throughout a year. If you only do it once per year or less, there is no point in joining a loyalty program. If, on the other hand, you rent cars more than three times a year, such a program is designed to suit your needs and you should take advantage of it. What will you get? Points that you can use to get free rentals, expedited service, as well as free late time.

  • Check the local gas prices

While most companies will rent you cars that you get to choose how much to fuel, there are some exceptions. Try to avoid companies that try to convince you to pay upfront for the gas. You might be thinking that it one more concern has been taken off your shoulders, but in reality, you might be paying more than you actually consume. Are you tempted to accept? Then check local gas prices and see if there is any difference between what you are asked to pay and the total you calculate. Resources such as GasBuddy can prove to be very useful in such situations.

  • Search for discounts

Coupon websites such as Groupon can help you find discounts or special offers for all kinds of services and products, including car rental services. Although these discounts or offers come with restrictions, it is worth doing a little research. One of the frequently encountered offers implies renting a car and booking accommodation at a specific chain of hotels. You can get some discounts and although it will be nothing extraordinary, you get to save bit by bit.

  • Check for parking fees before booking an airport rental

Are you planning to rent a car from the airport spot? Then you should first check the airport’s parking fees. As you probably already know, these fees are never low, so the fact that the rental company offers lower prices for airport cars might not make a difference.

Why should you search for your rental car online?

When looking for your rental car online, rather than calling or visiting a sales office, you will probably not have the authentic car rental experience, but you will get a lot more benefits. One of the most important is related to the way you are spending your time. It is important to consider that you will be avoiding the sales pitch. More than that, you will not risk being influenced by the salesmen you come in contact with. There are other reasons why you should rather search online that directly in store. Here are a few:

  • Wider Variety of Vehicles

While the advantage of going directly at the company’s site is that you can obtain the information you need immediately, the chances of missing out on a few good deals are quite high. When booking online, you might discover that there are plenty of car models that cannot be seen on the lot. Some of the vehicles might be rented, while others might be available at different locations. To put it in a simpler way: online platforms usually contain the full fleet, so that you can check and choose the models that are compatible with your needs.

  • Faster and more efficient

Although customer service staff are usually trained to offer assistance without being boring, tiring or aggressive these days, there are situations when you must wait for minutes on end just for the agent to find a specific car’s status. Online booking systems are designed to avoid long waiting time and offer you the ability to control what you see and when. Even more, with online booking, you can choose companies that have the expedited key pick-up option, so that you can save even more time.

  • Online deals

You have probably seen this happening with other businesses, too. From time to time, there are only available if you make your purchase or booking online. This is a strategy that helps the business encourage users to transition faster towards the online environment. Automated, interactive systems help everyone obtain the desired results faster. If no online deals are available at the time of your booking, subscribing to the company’s newsletter or opting in for marketing email could be a good way to be informed about future deals.

  • More research time

Who has the time or patience to sit at a desk, together with a customer service representative and read all the paperwork, ask questions or debate some of the terms and conditions? This is a problem that the online system of every business has solved, by using a dedicated page on the official website. If you do your research online, you have access to all the required documentation and you can read it at your own pace. Frequently asked questions are also answered to, so you don’t have to waste any more time on those. In some cases, online research simply isn’t enough. If there are questions that you haven’t found the answer to online, that is a good moment to contact the company by phone or in person.

What is unlimited mileage?

Some companies offer this kind of benefit, meaning that you can drive for as long as you want, without worrying about the mileage. You can forget about the odometer when choosing a service that has unlimited mileage included. Due to the fact that it is almost impossible to know where you are going and for how long you will be driving when traveling for leisure, car rental companies have developed this system. It implies paying a certain amount up-front, but it is easy to check whether or not it is more than you need.

Can I drive out of the state I rented from?

While this depends on the company you choose to rent from, this is something that is usually allowed, under certain conditions. What car companies want to obtain when you travel abroad or even to a different city, is a better insurance policy. It is only natural to do so for obvious reasons. The terms and conditions might also differ in regards to the gas mileage prices, mileage exclusions etc.

Take into consideration the fact that some states impose a minimum on insurance coverage, especially for privately owned cars. All rental companies must follow those rules, this being the reason why you might want to check this aspect, too. These kinds of questions are usually included in the FAQ page of the company’s website. You will often find that there are online chat features available, too, so you can solve this dilemma right away.

Is special equipment available when renting a car?

There are several types of equipment that car rental companies must be able to put at your disposal. Child safety seats, vehicles that include equipment for persons with physical disabilities are some of the most requested types. According to the law, rental companies in the U.S must be able to fulfill these requests. What you need to do in order to ensure that you can benefit from them is mention exactly what you require and make the reservation a few weeks ahead. Every car rental company has limited such equipment, so you want to make sure that you will get to one.

Some companies can even offer vans with wheelchair access. If you need one of those for your future travels, you should definitely make the reservation in advance. Other types of equipment, such as GPS systems, can be found on almost every car. It is important to mention that you need them, but availability will not be a problem in this case.

Can a rental car be driven by more than one driver?

The most important thing to consider when you are planning to rent a car that will be driven by more than two people is age. While this is common practice, the main driver has to declare in written that someone else will be driving throughout the rental period. In case of an incident or accident, if the second person is under 25 years old and driving, there will be insurance coverage issues. The same applies in the opposite case. Therefore, informing the rental company is crucial.

The only disadvantage in this case is related to the price change. All companies impose a price increase when more than one driver signs in. The good news is that there are car rental companies that will offer you this service at low prices.

Our top choice

Enterprise has been declared the best car rental company for very good reasons. Besides having a strong present on the U.S market, having a great online presence, affordable prices and nice cars to offer, they proudly promote high-quality customer service. According to customers, walking into Enterprise’s offices after a bad day, with an awful disposition and getting out with all problems solved and a satisfied look on their faces happens quite frequently. The staff is highly trained in problem-solving and is capable of delivering excellent services.

The same applies for any type of technical error, human error or unpleasant situation related to the car, prices, equipment etc. The staff is respectful, quick to apologize and eager to work out every situation, regardless of its complexity. Giving the fact that they have over 6000 locations and a fleet with more than 500,000 cars, the fact there are only a few negative reviews from ex-customers is a huge accomplishment.