The Best and Worst Rental Car Companies in America

5 min read
rental car

Whether it’s for work or pleasure, you gain a wealth of experience with good and bad rental car services when you travel a lot. To avoid the hassle and disappointment of shoddy services, it’s important to check your options and stay informed.

Car rental companies differ — sometimes alarmingly — in rates, cost and fees. The rewards they offer also vary, so you need to seek out the best ones that will give you maximum satisfaction.

Continue reading to find out the best and worst rental car services in America according to a 2020 JD Power North American Rental Car Satisfaction Study.

Note: The companies are ranked worst to best.

13. Payless

Payless

Payless gives you attractive rates, and they enjoy spaces at nearly 120 airport locations. Super convenient. And airport car rentals are generally more expensive than renting farther afield. So why is Payless renting for less, then?

For one, their vehicles are old, with a lot of mileage, and are often dirty. Then there’s the business of pushing add-on that you may not need. A class lawsuit action was brought against them in 2016 for just that. The New York Times also reported that they make it difficult for persons to register a complaint.

12. Fox Rent-a-Car

fox rental

Fox advertises attractively low rates, and they are the fifth largest car rental company in America. Don’t be deceived, however. You are paying extra for toll, insurance, and additional drivers. Autoslash classifies E-Z, Advantage, Ace, Firefly and Fox as “3 tier” companies.

Meaning–you’ll have long lines, uninspiring vehicles, and shuttle service to your rental car at off-airport locations in some instances. Consumer Affairs gave the company a 2.5 rating out of 5.

11. Firefly Car Rental

Firefly

As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. The Tier 3 car rental company has low costs. But unfortunately, it also comes with hidden insurance costs and daily fees.

You can expect to wait a while due to understaffing. The reviews of this rental company are far from good. Giving you your promised refunds are just some of the customers’ complaints.

10. Europcar

europcar

Don’t be fooled by the name. Europcar is not limited to Europe. They have locations in the United States and thousands of locations globally.

Pay attention because they have hidden costs, like paying for pre-fueling and insurance. Like Fox, Europcar has a 2 ½  rating on Consumer Affairs, with many 1 star complaints.

Advantage owns E-Z, and they were both forced to pay millions of dollars to customers for allegations of overcharge on vehicles damaged by customers.

Their customers also complain about a hike in daily rates without getting their approval and hiked up insurance costs, poor communication, and shoddy customer service. Their saving grace? A wide variety of cars to choose from!

9. Advantage Rent-a-Car

Advantage

Thankfully, Advantage is known for its low prices. Like E-Z, they boast a wide variety of cars but spend most of their time fielding complaints. Better Business Bureau of Business states that Advantage has a pattern of complaints.

They charge customers for damages that weren’t their fault and sneak in toll fees. You are also lucky if you get your vehicle on time after making your reservation.

8. Ace Rent-a-Car

Ace

Ace is affordable but hard to access due to its mere 59 locations. And Rental Genius, the rewards program, is nothing to write home about.

You earn points on every dollar you spend, but they don’t allow you to use those points for free rental. What they give you instead are random electronic and gift cards.

7. Sixt Rent-a-Car

Sixt Rental Web

The German company with its super-cheap rates is continuing to spread across America.

As with the other low-budget companies mentioned before, be careful of what they are not telling you up-front, such as those hidden fees and insurance costs.

Autoslash gives Ace a higher score than all the companies mentioned before due to its excellent customer service.

6. Budget

budget

Budget is a superb choice if you want to save money. You receive a straight-up 35% discount if you pay at reservation. They give you a little below average rates and are convenient due to their 1300 locations across the United States.

The downside is they don’t offer rewards of free rentals or any such incentive. Also, their customer service is suspect. So there’s a pretty even split of people who like and people who dislike Budget.

5. Dollar Rent-a-Car

dollar

Dollar Rent-A-Car is in 61 countries and has 570 locations, including 260 in the United States and Canada. Thankfully, Dollar seems geared toward budget-conscious travelers.

Like its sister company, Thrifty, it starts eliminating the need for credit card requirements. They consider that some persons are not qualified for credit cards or prefer to use a debit card.

In addition, Dollar has a great rewards program and one of the lowest additional driver rates.

4. Avis

avis

Avis offers generous discounts and promotions to make up for its expensive charges!

For example, you receive a 30% discount if you pre-pay, and if you are an AARP member, you also get 30% off their rental.

Note, however, that Avis caters primarily to business travelers, but it’s still a solid choice for anyone.

3. National

national

With 1500 locations around the world, national is the sister company of Alamo and Enterprise. These three entities are known for their excellent customer service.

Not only do they have a range of vehicles to choose from, but they also offer a robust loyalty program, with a wide array of benefits via their Ebony Club.

Club members get to bypass the counter at over fifty of their locations in Canada and the United States, and you pay no second driver fees.

2. Alamo and Enterprise

alamo, enterprise

These beloved rental companies are respectively tied for second place. Alamo offers cheap daily rates and perks. Book online and receive an automatic 5% discount.

They are also supporters of the National Educational Association, by giving free day rentals. Their sister company, Enterprise, has no hidden fees and affordable rates!

They have over 6,000 locations and will pick you up! Autoslash recommends that you sign up for the Emerald Club–since they are all sisters — and reap the benefits!

1. Hertz

hertz

Hertz is the boss! With 10,000 locations globally, it beats all in customer satisfaction, even though it’s the second-biggest car company in the US. So says the J.D. Power survey.

Their reward program is second to none, and they offer an airport shuttle, and if there’s a lower rate at another Hertz location, they will match it for you and give you a 10% off!

Share