These Are the Best Car Rental Companies

We've highlighted an option for every type of road tripper

smiling woman handing over car key to man

 

martin-dm / Getty Images 

When it comes to renting a car, the options can be overwhelming and hard to sift through. And depending on how and why you’re traveling, car rental companies are not one-size-fits-all. Maybe you're seeking the most bang for your buck, or you just want the convenience of an easy online experience. From stand-out customer service to companies with impressive rewards programs, our top picks for the best rental car companies of 2022 have you covered.

01 of 09

Best for Avoiding Additional Fees: National

National

 National

Across the board, most car rental companies charge an additional daily fee for additional drivers and any added equipment you might need such as car seats, ski racks, or GPS devices. Car companies will also often charge one-way car rental fees. So if you pick up your car in one location and drop it off somewhere else, you will have to cover the cost of bringing the car back to its original rental location. National, however, will not charge you this one-way fee if you’re picking up and dropping off between airport locations. 

If you’re a member of the Emerald Club Loyalty Program, all fees will still apply. However, the program does allow members to quickly and easily choose any car in the Emerald Aisle section at a midsize car rate. And depending on your tier status, you may be able to receive upgrades and opportunities for free rental days for every six or seven qualified rentals.

02 of 09

Best for Customer Service: Enterprise

Enterprise

 Enterprise

Although Enterprise has slightly high rates in the rental car industry, they’re still a favorite with customers. A recent study showed that they ranked highest overall in customer satisfaction, with a score of 861 compared to the industry average of 830. Only three other companies ranked above the industry average. 

You’re bound to find an Enterprise near you, with more than 7,600 locations across the country. They also have a four-tiered loyalty program called Enterprise Plus, which allows members to earn upgrades on their rentals each year. They can also earn and redeem points for free rental days, receive faster members-only check-ins and a dedicated phone number for customer service. (Fun fact: The company was named after the aircraft carrier the founder served on during World War II.)

03 of 09

Best for Unlimited Mileage and Second Drivers: Alamo

Alamo

Courtesy of Wiki Commons 

Alamo offers unlimited free mileage as a standard, and if you’re hitting the open road with another individual or a group, Alamo outlines a number of exceptions where it’ll waive the additional daily driver’s fee that is typically $15. Spouses and domestic partners of the primary drivers will not be charged an additional driver fee. In addition, the $15 additional driver fee is waived for corporate contracts where the additional driver is the renter’s business partner, employer or fellow associate. If you’re a Costco member renting through Alamo, you won’t be charged an additional driver fee as well.

The Alamo Insider free program gives customers a guaranteed 5 percent discount off the retail rate. Rotating discounts include deals for military members, AAA members, as well as free car class upgrades in certain categories.

04 of 09

Best Airport Locations: Hertz

Hertz

 Hertz

Although it’s one of the largest car rental companies worldwide—with more than 1,600 airport locations in the U.S. alone and coverage in smaller cities like Beloit, Wisconsin, and Newport, Vermont—it’s not the cheapest. Hertz’s daily rate averages $60 (rates may vary depending on your specific location). We love the range of cars that the company offers: While there’s definitely your business-trip standards, high-capacity cars for families, and compact economy cars for budget travelers, there’s also a rental section of electric cars from Tesla and luxury “dream cars” from Mercedes and BMW that are treats for memorable trips.

The company also offers up to 30 percent off prepaid reservations, up to 20 percent off for AAA members. as well as no additional fees for AAA renters ages 20-25.

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05 of 09

Best Aggregator: Rentalcars.com

Rentalcars.com

 Rentalcars.com

A rental aggregator is a handy tool if you’re looking to comparison shop for the best deals possible without toggling between a number of website tabs for each car rental company. 

Rentalcars.com has a massive directory of cars and dealers available, including Alamo, Hertz, Avis, and Dollar, as well as relatively lesser known companies like Ace car rentals and Sixt. Overall, they have over 60,000 locations in 160 countries, with an estimated eight million customers. With all those options, customers are empowered to book what suits them best, which includes flexible options and features like price match guarantees, no hidden fees, the choice to choose car seats, and 48 hours to cancel or change your reservation at no charge.

06 of 09

Best Discounts: Avis

Avis

 Avis

Avis’ average daily rates track with its competitors, but there’s a good chance you might be able to knock down the price, with various discount codes, rebates, and promotions available to savvy customers who aren’t afraid to put in a bit of research (AARP members also get special rates by default).

For example, U.S. active duty military, military veterans, and National Guard and Reservist members receive up to 25 percent off base rate rentals, while union members receive up to 30 percent off pay now rates. AARP members receive up to 30 percent off base rates.

If you’re renting in the Northeast (Maine to North Carolina), California, Chicago Area, Florida, Colorado, Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, Washington, and Puerto Rico, all cars come with an e-Toll, so you don’t have to think about extra toll costs. Rentals are also suitable for companies whose employees need to snag a car for a bit—small businesses, in particular, can save up to 30% off their rentals. Signing up for their business program also means complimentary Avis Preferred membership which allows customers expedited pick up and drop off.

07 of 09

Best for Paying Upfront: Budget

Budget

 Budget

Budget offers a discount of up to 35 percent if you pay when you make the reservation (daily rates may vary depending on your specific location). They also have rotating limited time offers, like 10 percent off rentals of five or more days, or SUV rentals for $50/day, an offer that’s attractive for families hitting the road and want more room. If you want something that’s not your usual rental car, Budget’s got that too—rent hybrids like the Toyota Prius, convertibles like a Chevy Camaro, and pickup trucks like the Jeep Gladiator. 

Note that with many pay upfront rental policies, there will likely be a fee for reservation cancellations, so read the terms and conditions. For example Budget charges $50 for cancellations made at least 24 hours before your scheduled pick up and $150 for cancellations within 24 hours. Additionally, there are no refunds for no shows or returning the rental early.

08 of 09

Best for Rewards Program: Silvercar

Silvercar by Audi

Silvercar by Audi

Nearly all car rental companies out there offer a rewards program, and we’re fans of Silvercar’s straightforward and flexible approach. You’re automatically enrolled when you create a Silvercar account, earn one reward point per dollar for each dollar spent (not including related taxes and fees), and enjoy no blackout dates when you redeem points for free rentals. Plus, points don’t expire as long as you complete a transaction within five years. And depending on how many rewards points you’ve stashed, redeem them for 50 percent off a rental or free days—just pay taxes and fees.

Book an Audi sedan or SUV through the Silvercar app in more than 20 airport and metro locations including California, Texas, North Carolina, and Florida. Silvercar rental perks include complimentary Peg Perego car seats and pet carriers, WiFi, GPS navigation, and SiriusXM satellite radio. Rentals have been averaging $80/day in 2022.

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09 of 09

Best Online Check In System: Lyft

Lyft

 Lyft

Lyft is known as an on demand ride share service, and in 2019, it launched the car rental program Lyft Rentals in partnership with traditional car rental service Sixt in some locations. Renting a vehicle through Lyft is as easy as opening the app, clicking on the key icon located at the bottom right of your screen, and following several prompts to customize your vehicle, including complimentary add ons at most locations like ski racks, child seats, even a phone charger. We also like that you only have to pay for the gas you use (estimated by market rates), get unlimited mileage, and are charged only for the tolls used—other companies may charge a fee for a toll transponder.

Its Lyft Rentals program also offers a $20 credit to use to and from the rental location (that’s $10 each way.) Locations fulfilled by Sixt receive a $10 Lyft credit to use anytime. Renting through the website instead of the app is also possible. To check in, just bring your phone and have your driver’s license ready.

Final Verdict

Whether you're in search of a car rental company that provides stand-out customer service; you'd like an easy-to-navigate online experience; or you want to pay top dollar for a luxury car, these car rental companies check the box for many different types of travelers. If you're not sure where to start, we recommend going with National to avoid additional fees, or Enterprise for a really solid customer service experience.