We compared car rental companies’ prices in different cities, for different time periods and for different types of cars. Thrifty had the lowest one-day rates and was below average for the week-long rates, making it the best value option for car rental services.
We got multiple quotes for New York City, Los Angeles and Houston rentals. Across the board – for economy, compact and full-size cars – Thrifty gave us the lowest price for a one-day rental, often by as much as 50 percent. If you’re only renting for a day or two, Thrifty is your best bet to get the lowest price.
Weekly rates were a bit more variable. Generally, Thrifty gave us rates that were around 10 percent below average to right around average, depending on the type of car and the city we looked in. To get the best rates, we recommend booking in advance. Our quotes reflect bookings made two weeks in advance. If you make reservations for a rental with a shorter lead time, it’s likely you’ll pay more. Next-day rentals are especially expensive.
If you plan on adding additional drivers, be advised that there’s a daily fee. Thrifty charges $10 for additional drivers, putting it alongside Dollar and ACE as the companies charging the lowest fees.
Blue Chip is Thrifty’s member rewards program. It’s free to join and provides many of the standard benefits, though it’s not as expansive as some of the other programs we reviewed. As a Blue Chip member, you have access to the members-only line, which lets you bypass the regular line and rent your car quicker.
Blue Chip rewards let you earn points for each dollar you spend on qualified rentals. Like with most rewards programs, you redeem these points for a free rental. At Thrifty it takes about 500 points to get a free day, about average for this type of program. Thrifty does have blackout dates, a marked disadvantage over programs that place fewer restrictions on when you can redeem your rewards.
Thrifty has fewer locations than many of its competitors, with around 470 across the U.S. It does have a big international presence with over 500 locations spread across 77 countries. Thrifty has a good balance of airport and neighborhood locations. Where possible, try to get your rental car at a non-airport location, since airports often charge concession fees of up to 10 percent.
If you make a reservation in advance from a neighborhood location, Thrifty offers a pick-up service. It sends a driver to pick you up from your home or hotel and take you to the office to finalize the rental. This is a valuable service that saves you the cost of a taxi.
Though Thrifty is smaller than many rental companies we reviewed, we had no problems with out-of-stock or reduced options when we looked for reservations. With other small rental companies, we sometimes saw certain locations completely sold out or with a low inventory, especially when making last second reservations.