Founded in 1958, Thrifty has all the experience needed of one of the best car rental sites (opens in new tab). Having grown steadily over the decades, Thrifty now operates in more than 4,000 locations worldwide in partnership with parent company Hertz and sister company Dollar Car Rental. Thrifty aims to cater to cost-conscious business and leisure travelers alike, all of whom could also benefit from the best travel insurance (opens in new tab) to protect against mishaps on their travels.
Thrifty review: Rental options
With around 300 locations across the U.S, Thrifty has fewer offices than many of its competitors - Enterprise has more than 4,600 - but still offers a good balance of airport and neighborhood locations. Some locations offer one way rentals, but you'll need to check first.
Thrifty offers a range of vehicles from subcompact cars to SUVs, trucks and vans, but as you might expect, options are not quite as broad as some of it rivals either. That said, with with well-known brands such as Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, Hyundai, Jeep and Lincoln all available, there should definitely be something to meet your needs. If you're not really bothered either way, you can even go for the Wild Card program, and potentially get a free upgrade.
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.
Thrifty review: Pricing
When it comes to price, Thrifty really does live up to its name. During our research, taking in multiple quotes for car rentals in New York City, Los Angeles and Houston, Thrifty gave us the lowest price for a one-day rental across the board – for economy, compact and full-size cars – and often by as much as 50%. If you’re only renting for a day or two, Thrifty is your best bet to get the lowest price.
While weekly rates were a little more variable, generally Thrifty was usually around 10% below average to average, depending on the type of car and the city we looked in. To get the best rates, we recommend booking in advance, as if you make reservations for a rental with a shorter lead time, it’s likely you’ll pay more.
Thrifty review: Rewards program
Blue Chip is Thrifty’s member rewards program. It’s free to join and provides many of the standard benefits, but is 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 get your car quicker, while spouses can be made an additional driver and drive for free.
Blue Chip rewards also let you earn points for each dollar you spend on qualified rentals, and as 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, but be aware that there are blackout dates, a marked disadvantage over programs that place fewer restrictions on when you can redeem your rewards. A note on the website also says all Blue Chip Rewards points will expire by either December 31, 2021 or after 24 months of inactivity in the account, whichever occurs first.
Should you use Thrifty car rental?
If a budget car rental is what you want, and there's a rental location near you, then Thrifty is always worth checking out. The daily and weekly rates both stand out in terms of value, but with only around 300 sites across the US, getting yourself to where you need to be may prove easier said than done.