Best Car Rental Companies

Hertz is the best rental company with convenient pickup and drop-off locations

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Car rental companies make it easy to rent a vehicle during a vacation, while your car is in the shop, or just to get around for a few days. They usually have locations at major airports, in cities and towns, and near major tourist attractions for convenient pickup and drop-off. 

The best car rental companies offer multiple locations with extended business hours and easy access to customer service representatives. They also offer competitively priced cars, optional add-ons, easy-to-use websites, and ways to reward customers.

Best Car Rental Companies of 2021

Best Overall : Hertz


Hertz

 Hertz

  • Locations: 12,000+ worldwide
  • Rental Periods: Hourly to several months
  • Age Requirement: 18+ 
Why We Chose It

Hertz is a well-known reputable car rental company with locations throughout the country. It has a quality loyalty program and makes it easy to get in touch with customer service. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Strong loyalty program

  • Luxury and extra-large vehicles at most airports

Cons
  • Fewer locations than other rental agencies

  • In the news recently for bankruptcy

Overview

Hertz was founded in 1918 and is one of the most recognizable car rental companies in the U.S. and abroad. It has locations nationwide including at all the major airports, cities, and in local neighborhoods that specialize in renting cars when your vehicle is in the repair shop.

You can make a reservation online, on the app, or over the phone. All major credit cards are accepted and debit cards are accepted at some locations with a $500 hold, a credit review, and possibly more restrictions depending on the location. Hertz allows one-way rentals and rentals with different pickup and drop-off locations. However, there may be an additional fee depending on where the drop-off location is. 

Hertz has a free loyalty program called Hertz Gold that lets you collect points for renting cars you can use to skip the checkout counter at airports and get free rental days, vehicle upgrades, and more. 

Typically, Hertz has positive customer service reviews and customers are impressed with the Gold service. The company also offers discounts for AAA members and as well as many other companies and organizations. Hertz requires drivers to be at least 18 with a valid license and charges a young driver fee of $19 per day for drivers under 25. 

Read the full Hertz rental car review.

Most Affordable Rentals : Payless


Payless

Payless 

  • Locations: 120 worldwide
  • Rental Periods: One day to over one month
  • Age Requirement: 21+
Why We Chose It

Payless is a discount car rental company that offers some of the most competitive prices in the industry. It also has mostly positive customer service reviews and locations at most major airports throughout the country. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Owned by Avis Budget

  • Competitive prices

  • Convenient locations in airports and hotels

Cons
  • Fewer locations than other car rental agencies

  • Luxury car selection is limited

  • Few locations in rural areas

Overview

Founded in 1971, Payless is now owned by Avis Budget and has locations in North and South America and Europe. The company rents multiple types of vehicles, including sedans, minivans, and SUVs but doesn’t have many luxury options. Rental prices average more than $100 less than competitors on weekly rates.

Payless offers locations scattered throughout airports, hotels, and major metropolitan areas, making it easy to rent on vacation or while traveling. However, there aren’t many neighborhood or rural locations. 

You can make a reservation on the Payless app, website, or over the phone. You also need to be 21 or older and have a valid driver's license and a major credit card or a debit card with a Visa or MasterCard logo. Drivers under 25 will pay a young driver fee of $25 per day and be limited to renting certain vehicles. Generally, $200 plus the estimated amount of the rental will be held as a deposit on your card.

Payless allows one-way rentals based on availability, though border crossings to Mexico or Canada need to be approved in writing upfront. You can also add a roadside assistance plan which provides 24/7 assistance. In addition to its discounted car rates, Payless also offers discounts to military members, certain hotel loyalty members, AARP, AAA, and other organizations.

Best for Vacations : Enterprise


Enterprise

 Enterprise

  • Locations: 7,200+ worldwide
  • Rental Periods: Hourly to as long as you need it 
  • Age Requirement: 21+
Why We Chose It

Enterprise operates in 85 counties, making it ideal for vacations. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Locations around the world

  • Toll policy cap

  • Special rates and discounts

Cons
  • Rates can be on the high side

  • Has been known to ban customers for small issues

Overview

Enterprise was founded in 1957 in St.Louis, Missouri, and now has more than 7,200 locations worldwide. It’s ideal for vacations because it has locations in hotels, airports, major cities, neighborhoods, and even more rural areas. 

Enterprise also offers many cars to choose from, including sedans, convertibles, minivans, and SUVs. It regularly runs deals and promotions, including free rental upgrades, email offers, one-way deals, military discounts, and a point-based loyalty program. 

Enterprise has an app, a website, and a customer service number where you can make reservations. You need a valid driver's license and an acceptable form of payment to rent a car. Most locations accept credit cards but not cash. Some locations accept debit cards with additional holds up to $400 plus the cost of the rental and additional criteria.

Enterprise has high ratings for customer service with customers appreciating no hidden fees and plenty of convenient locations. You must be 21 years old to rent a car from Enterprise, and if you’re under 25 you will be charged a young driver fee of $25 per day. Additional drivers over 25 cost an extra $15 each per day. 

Read the full Enterprise rental car review.

Best for Peer-to-Peer Rentals : Turo


Turo

Turo

  • Locations: 5,500+ cities worldwide
  • Rental Periods: Hourly to as long as the host allows
  • Age Requirement: 18+
Why We Chose It

Turo is a peer-to-peer car rental platform that is entirely online. It offers a different option than using a car rental company and generally has more car types to choose from. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Choose your exact vehicle ahead of time

  • Seamless app experience

  • Deal with one person instead of a company

Cons
  • Hosts can cancel at the last minute

  • Can’t message host before booking

Overview

Founded in 2010, Turo is a newer addition to the rental car space. Its peer-to-peer platform, which works similarly to Airbnb, is entirely online and through a mobile app. Hosts put their vehicles on the site with full descriptions, including make, model, year, and color photos. Then you just choose your dates and see if the car you want is available. 

Using Turo is easy. Just sign up, upload your photo, create a profile, upload a copy of your driver's license, and then you can rent a vehicle directly from another person. You book the vehicle through the app before you see it.

Prices vary widely and discounts are only given by hosts for things such as booking ahead and renting for more than three days. Roadside assistance isn’t included and hosts usually limit the mileage, but once you make the reservation, you can message the host about all the details. You can also choose a protection plan from Turo or use your own insurance to cover the rental car. Turo charges its own fees to run the platform in addition to the host’s rental fees. 

Turo has a huge variety of vehicles and many are older than those that rental car companies rent out, but all are required to be clean and in working condition with clean titles. You’ll find inexpensive compact cars, Teslas, large SUVs, minivans, Rolls Royces, and even sports cars like Ferraris and Lamborghinis. 

Turo requires you to prepay for your rental with a credit or debit card. If you’re under 25, some hosts won’t rent to you while others might charge an additional fee of $15 per day. Pick-up and drop-off are negotiated between you and the host and offer more flexibility than other rental agencies.

Best for Additional Drivers : Alamo


Alamo

Alamo

  • Locations: 1,100+ worldwide
  • Rental Periods: Daily to over a month
  • Age Requirement: 21+
Why We Chose It

Alamo has locations throughout the country and is ideal for additional drivers because it charges less than the competitors and offers additional discounts. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Convenient locations nationwide

  • Discounts and loyalty program

  • Lower additional driver fees

Cons
  • Cancelation fees for prepaying

  • Rates are on the high side

Overview

Alamo is known for offering cheaper additional driver fees than its competitors, in addition to a loyalty program, and discounts for teachers, military, and government officials. Adding additional drivers costs only $15 per day, and discounts are available on some one-way rentals and book ahead and last-minute specials. If you sign up for the free insider program, you’ll also receive 5% off your rentals. 

Alamo offers locations nationwide at airports, metropolitan areas, and major tourist attractions. You can book a car on the app or over the phone but the best deals are usually found by booking online. Drivers must be 21 or over and have a valid driver's license and a major credit card in their name. Some locations also accept debit cards but require a qualification process.

Alamo charges drivers under 25 a young driver fee of around $25 per day. The company also offers a variety of vehicles, including cars, SUVs, vans, hybrid cars, luxury vehicles, and exotic vehicles. Not all locations offer luxury and exotic cars though most airports and major city locations have a few to choose from including Corvettes, Infinitis, and various convertibles to choose from. You can also choose roadside assistance at the time of rental for an extra fee that varies by location.

Best for Business Travel : National


National

National

  • Locations: 1,500+ worldwide
  • Rental Periods: Daily to two+ months 
  • Age Requirement: 21+
Why We Chose It

National has a highly rated business program that gives business travelers discounted rates on rental cars. It also has easy to reach customer service and multiple cars to choose from. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Business travelers program with discounts

  • Multiple vehicle types to choose from

  • Highly rated app

Cons
  • Fewer locations than other companies

  • No drop-off or pick-up services

Overview

National was founded in 1947 and offers a wide variety of vehicle types, including compact cars, luxury cars, SUVs, and cargo vans. You can reserve a car online, on the app, or over the phone. National doesn’t have as many locations as some of its competitors, but it does have locations in major cities, tourist attractions, and major airports. 

National requires renters to be 21 or older with a valid driver’s license and a debit or credit card in their name. Debit card users may be required to undergo a credit check and leave a deposit of $400 plus the rental fees and airport locations only allow debit cards to be used with return tickets. Drivers under 25 years old will be charged a daily young driver fee which varies but can be as high as $35 per day plus taxes and surcharges. One-way rentals are allowed based on availability and may incur additional fees. Different drop-off locations must be reserved ahead of time and may also incur additional fees. 

National is known for catering to its business customers with a business rental program for companies of all sizes. Corporate discounts are given and there is a free travel management tool to manage all of your bookings in one place. National has locations throughout the U.S. and in 90 other countries around the world. It also offers long-term car rentals to businesses and car delivery for general aviation, as well as mileage reimbursement tools.

Final Verdict

Overall, we chose Hertz as the best car rental company for its highly rated customer loyalty program, locations throughout the country, numerous ways to contact customer service, and an easy online rental process. 

Compare the Best Car Rental Companies

Company Locations Price Customer Service Age Requirement Mileage Limits
Hertz
Best Overall
12,000+ worldwide $25+ per day Phone, email, social media 18+; young driver fee on select cars Usually unlimited
Payless
Most Affordable rentals 
120 worldwide $15+ per day  Phone, email, fax  21+; young driver fee on select cars  Usually unlimited 
Enterprise
Best for Vacations 
7,200+ worldwide $20+ per day Phone, email, social media  21+; young driver fee on select cars  Usually unlimited 
Turo
Best for Peer-to-Peer Rentals 
5,500+ cities worldwide $25+ per day  App and online help  18+; young driver fee on select cars  Varies per host 
Alamo
Best for Additional Drivers 
1,100+ worldwide $20+ per day  Phone and online form  21+; young driver fee on select cars  Usually unlimited 
National
Best for Business Travel 
1,500+ worldwide  $20+ per day  Phone and online support  21+; young driver fee on select cars  Usually unlimited 

What to Look for in a Car Rental Company

Typically, you should look for the following in a car rental company:

  • Reputable company
  • Positive overall reviews
  • Convenient locations
  • Multiple ways to contact customer service
  • Competitive prices
  • Variety of available vehicles 

Renting a Car vs. Using Rideshare

When deciding if you want to rent a car or use a rideshare service, it’s important to consider your time frame, number of stops, and parking at your destination. Renting a car is usually more convenient and more economical if you’re going on a long road trip or have a full day of errands to run with multiple stops.

However, it may make more sense to use a rideshare service or a taxi if you’re only going a short distance or if you only need to stop at one or two places. Ridesharing may be easier if there isn’t available or affordable parking where you’re going or if you’re not comfortable driving in a busy city or a new area. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Does It Cost to Use a Car Rental Company?

Rental car pricing varies greatly depending on the pick-up location, type of vehicle, dates you’re renting it, and even on who is driving the car. Drivers under 25 typically pay higher fees. Additional fees to look out for include taxes which are usually higher at airports. Be aware of refueling and cleaning fees, as well as pet and smoking fees. 

Make sure to prepay for fuel or bring it back at the same level you received it or you will be charged. Smoking is rarely allowed in the car and there will be charges if the car smells of cigarette smoke, has pet hair, or is excessively dirty. Add-ons such as satellite radio, car seats, and GPS rentals can also increase the rental car price. Be mindful of the return date and time; returning late will increase your cost as well. 

Most rental car companies don’t accept cash and some only accept credit cards and not debit cards. A hold is usually placed on your credit card at the time of rental for the amount of the rental plus an additional incidental hold which can be anywhere from $100 to $500 or more, depending on the type of car you rent and the length of the rental. The hold is released once the car is returned in proper condition. 

What Is the Least Expensive Way to Rent a Car?

The least expensive way to rent a car varies. As with booking a flight where some days are cheaper to fly than others, the same is usually true with rental cars. Demand is high during holidays and peak season and supply is low which makes the prices go up. Conversely, if you book in advance, rent on weekdays, and choose dates that don’t coincide with holidays, you'll get a better deal.

Another tip is to rent from a non-airport location which will save you money on airport taxes, fees, and concessions. Additionally, it’s almost always cheaper to book a rental car online than to book one over the phone or in person. You can take advantage of discounts like AAA, join loyalty programs, and even search online for promo codes. 

Do I Need to Buy Insurance From a Car Rental Company?

You can insure your rental car in several different ways. You may opt to use your own car insurance if it has rental car coverage, or you can use your credit card if it provides rental car coverage

Alternatively, you may purchase insurance directly from the car rental company for the duration of your rental. This is offered as an add-on online and at the counter, and you can usually select from various levels of coverage. You would only be required to buy insurance from the car rental company if you don’t have auto insurance or if it won’t transfer over to the rental car. This may happen if you’re renting in a different country or renting a car that’s more expensive than your daily auto. 

Methodology

We looked at 15 rental car companies before narrowing them down to our top contenders. We considered company reputation, overall reviews, customer service, and the number of rental car locations. We also assessed rental requirements, prices, and mileage limits.