Why Use Car Rental Services?
The top performers in our review are Enterprise, the Gold Award winner; Hertz, the Silver Award winner; and Thrifty, the Bronze Award winner. Here’s more on choosing a car rental to meet your needs, along with details on how we arrived at our ranking of 10 services.
With so many options, it can be hard to know which car rental service is best for you. We found services with the most complete vehicle selection including SUVs, economy cars and hybrids. These companies that offer great deals on a range of styles. Pricing is an important deciding factor, so we looked for companies that offer competitive pricing.
If you're renting a car short term for a vacation or a business trip, things like airport availability, online check-in and GPS tracker rentals are important considerations. You'll want a car you can access as soon as you get off the plane. Having the option of checking the car in online can save valuable time if you are in a hurry to catch a flight home. The GPS rental is an asset when you're navigating around a city you're not familiar with. You'll also want to consider related services when planning a trip, such as online travel and hotel booking services.
One service in our lineup, Enterprise, offers a car share service where cars are strategically placed in company-owned spaces throughout the city. You use a membership card to access the car. Once it's in your possession you can rent it for a few hours or all day and you'll only be charged for the time you have it. On our side-by-side comparison and in our car rental service reviews we make these distinctions clear so you can make an informed decision about which rental service works best for your specific needs. If you are keeping the car long term, services that offer roadside assistance plans will be something you want to consider. Regarding auto insurance you'll want to be covered but you should check with your insurer to see if the car rental's insurance is necessary.
We found services with the most complete vehicle selection to meet a variety of needs, including business or pleasure trips, temporary car replacement or carpooling for an extended period. You can choose the right size vehicle for jetting around town with friends or moving your family across the country. In our comparison, you will find in-depth reviews and articles on car rental services to help you make an informed decision about what company has the fleet and services you need.
Car Rental Services: What to Look For
When comparing the top car rental companies, we looked at four main criteria: deals and services, types of rentals available, ease of use, and customer support. The best car rental services also offer hybrid vehicles and other fuel-efficient options for environmentally and economically conscious customers. Below is an explanation of the criteria we used to evaluate each car rental service.
Deals & Services
A good car rental company has all the standard services you need for a seamless rental experience. A service with multiple locations across the United States is important if you are taking a road trip. You don't want to be forced to adjust your travel plans around a location. Many companies offer the convenience of online reservation and check-in to avoid the hassles of long lines.
The best car rental services have a wide array of options. Most of the services in our lineup have car rentals in all 50 states. If you're driving cross country this is obviously a consideration. Even if you're not driving cross country but are renting a car long term, you may need to drive across state borders. It's nice to know an office is nearby in case you have a problem that needs to be resolved or you need to exchange cars.
Some companies also offer extra services, such as infant car seat rental, prepaid tolls and GPS options, to make your life easier. It's also nice to use a rental service that offers carbon offset programs, which shows it is a company concerned about issues bigger than itself.
Types of Rentals
A vehicle rental company that is worthy of your return business should offer excellent service and an extensive selection of cars. With car makes and models, the more the better. That's why we looked for sites that offer an array of choices, such as hybrids, minivans, pickups, convertibles, compacts, and commercial vans and trucks. Our top picks also offer one-way car rentals as well as long-term rentals. It's also great to discover programs that give you discounts on rentals. These rental services have the flexibility to meet the needs of a wide range of people.
Ease of Use
Look for a company website that's easy to navigate, especially its online reservation process. That's one of the most important aspects of a car rental site, because if you can't find the information you need, you'll look for a new car rental company. It's also important that the site is easy to use and that the checkout process is quick and simple.
We looked for sites that had a location finder on the homepage with a map so you know exactly where to go to pick up your car. We prefer sites where a reservation tool is the first thing you see when you log in. We also looked for sites with a search tool so you can find the information you need quickly.
Help & Support
If you need help, it's important you find what you need fast. The more customer support options you have, the better. We especially like live chat, but only a few rental services offer this feature. Email and phone support are more common. The service should also help you stay safe, so we checked whether rental sites offered roadside assistance and insurance packages.
Car Rental Services: Our Verdict and Recommendations
A car rental service should be easy to use and have the vehicles and services you need so you can enjoy your trip instead of dealing with car rental headaches. The best three car rental companies we found were Enterprise, Hertz and Thrifty.
Enterprise is a straightforward car rental company with a great selection of cars and some unique services. Enterprise is the only car rental service we found that offers a car share program and carpool assistance. The car share program is a service that lets you rent cars that are placed in strategic locations throughout the city using a membership card to access them. You can then use the car for as long as you want, a few hours or all day, and you only get charged for the time you have it. Enterprise's carpool assistance program lets you and your friends share the monthly costs of a van or SUV at a reduced rate to encourage environmental friendliness.
Hertz has a great website that is easy to navigate and rental options for all kinds of people. It has vehicles for families and people with disabilities. Specifically, there are cars available with hand controls and a wide selection of family-friendly vehicles. Hertz also has all the customer service options you need if you have questions or concerns, including live chat.
Thrifty is a good choice for people looking to save time and avoid hassles. It has an easy-to-use website and a convenient service that lets you prepay toll fees. Thrifty, Enterprise and Hertz all have roadside assistance programs to help you in an emergency, such as if you get a flat tire or are involved in a traffic accident. All three services also offer auto insurance packages.
When it comes to environmentally friendly options, the top three services in our lineup also shine. Enterprise and Hertz both offer carbon offset programs and all three have hybrid cars in their fleets. People who want to participate in the carbon offset program simply donate a small amount of money, which is matched by the company. The money is used to offset carbon emissions to protect the environment.
National is another service that is mindful of the environment with a carbon offset program and hybrid cars. National also has such convenience features as a toll prepay and on-site fuel discount options. For business travelers and others who may be in a hurry to catch a flight, Enterprise, Hertz, Alamo and Dollar all offer an online check-in option.
The best rental services offer the complete package with a wide selection of cars, long-term and group rentals, and options for protecting the environment. The companies in our reviews will make your car rental experience affordable, practical and fun.