Follow us:
  1. Home
  2. Travel
  3. Rental Cars

Find the Best Rental Car Companies

by Lauren Fix Auto & Finance Contributing Editor

Rental car services make it possible to travel quickly without depending on public transportation or rideshares. Use our guide to choose the best rental car company for you. You may be tempted to choose the cheapest option, but we recommend considering how you plan to use the vehicle and the features you need to find a rental car that's affordable and comfortable.

Compare Top Car Rental Company Reviews

Available in 20149
Read 3,181 Reviews

Large car-sharing network. Offers additional features like car seats and detailing. Serves as an alternative to rental agencies. Car owners set their own requirements, offering more rental flexibility.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car
Read 3,762 Reviews

American rental car company with locations all across the world, and in almost every US state. Offers buying, renting, and ride-sharing services. Provides replacement vehicles, as well as moving truck and van reservations.

Chat with a ConsumerAffairs decision guide

Live agent
Budget Rent-A-Car
Read 2,182 Reviews

Budget offers deep discounts for customers that pay at the time of their reservation, along with significant discounts to business customers. At Budget, renters can choose from a variety of rental vehicles and moving trucks.

Chat with a ConsumerAffairs decision guide

Live agent
Fox Rent A Car
Read 1,227 Reviews

Fox Rent A Car serves niche markets that other companies ignore. It offers easy one-way rentals and rents vehicles to new drivers age 19 and up. It also provides easy rewards, constant discounts and long-term rates.

Chat with a ConsumerAffairs decision guide

Live agent
Read 2,562 Reviews

With discounts of up to 40 percent, an easy-to-understand vehicle guide and a range of business programs, Hertz has become the largest car rental company in the U.S. They have locations in more than 145 countries worldwide.

Chat with a ConsumerAffairs decision guide

Live agent
Read 1,646 Reviews

Avis rental car services include white glove options for business travelers that allow for faster check in and check out. They also offer low mileage vehicles for sale at discount prices, offering the option to rent, then buy.

Chat with a ConsumerAffairs decision guide

Live agent
Thrifty Car Rental
Read 1,133 Reviews

Thrifty Car Rental offers instant discounts on premium vehicles, allowing renters to make an impression. They also offer membership into their Blue Chip rewards program that lets users earn free rental days and other benefits.

Chat with a ConsumerAffairs decision guide

Live agent
Read 185 Reviews

With operations in over 500 cities across nine countries, Zipcar is one of the leading car sharing networks in the world. Zipcar was founded in 2000 and has a collection of over 50 makes and models of self-service vehicles.

Chat with a ConsumerAffairs decision guide

Live agent
Alamo Car Rental
Read 922 Reviews

Car, SUV, van and truck rentals. Manual and automatic options in various styles and sizes. Online deals and specials, including military discounts and free upgrades. App or online reservations and check-ins.

Chat with a ConsumerAffairs decision guide

Live agent
ACE Rent A Car
Read 433 Reviews

Founded in 1966, ACE Rent A Car has more than 250 locations worldwide, specializing in low-mileage consumer vehicles. Their easy to use rewards program offers instant discounts and tiered membership for frequent renters.

Chat with a ConsumerAffairs decision guide

Live agent

Cost to rent a car

How much does it cost to rent a car?

The average cost to rent a car can vary dramatically depending on duration, date, discounts, loyalty programs and location. Look for rental deals without hidden fees by checking online discount sites and the company’s website.

  • Long-term rates: Many companies offer a deep discount on the daily rate when you rent a vehicle for a week or more. Always ask about weekly rentals, since the cost of a weekly may be less than a five-day rental. Holidays and special event weekends may not be included.
  • Programs and discounts: Companies that have loyalty programs may offer special promotions or have discounted rates for those employed by partner companies. Ask about employee discounts, convention rates, group pricing and other discount programs before confirming a rental.
  • Weekday pricing: The price of a rental car often goes up over the weekend. If any of the rental days are weekdays, be sure to ask about special weekday rates. Check company websites for the best rates.
  • Hourly: Drive cars by the hour or day. Car share programs include gas and insurance and usually have a membership fee. Each location has different rates.
  • By-the-ride: Fare estimators are on the app for each service, giving you the most accurate fare estimates directly to your location. Beware of surge pricing before you agree to the ride.

What are car rental fees?

When driving a rental car, tolls, gas, parking violations and other fees are the responsibility of the driver, which can add to the total cost. Some rental companies allow renters to prepay expected costs.

  • Prepaid tolls: Prepaying toll costs allows drivers to take express lanes and avoid backups on highways, toll roads, over bridges or through tunnels. Some rental car agencies offer a statewide pass for toll lanes and will bill your credit card upon return.
  • Prepaid gas: Every rental car comes with a full tank of gas, but it's the renter's responsibility to return the vehicle with an equally full tank. Customers who won't have the time to refuel before dropping off a rental can prepay the fuel fee when picking up the car. Some companies will offer a partial refund if a minimal amount of fuel is used and you have prepaid for the full tank of gasoline. Ask before you purchase the prepaid fuel plan.
  • Company refuel: This service is similar to prepaid gas except the fee is paid when dropping off the rental. This fee is typically higher than the per gallon fee available at gas stations.
  • Violations and Fees: Parking tickets, parking garages and other fees associated with your rental are solely the renter’s responsibility.

Types of rental cars

Compact cars

Sub-compact, compact, economy or small are the standard labels used for cars that are usually suitable for four to five people and a couple of suitcases. They also have two or four doors and are likely to be automatic transmission. These are the cheapest to rent and have great gas mileage.

Mid-sized cars

The largest category is known as intermediate, standard or midsize. This size includes cars that seat five people and can fit a little more comfortably than in the smaller classes, and there is room for more luggage. While they are more comfortable than smaller class vehicles, keep in mind that mileage decreases as the car gets bigger.

Full-size cars

Full-size cars have the most storage room and passenger capacity. These vehicles are full-size vehicles and include four-door sedans with lots of features, including air conditioning, power locks and windows, an AM/FM stereo and a CD player. They will seat five people comfortably and more luggage than a mid-sized vehicle.

Luxury cars

If you need something out of the ordinary because you have a wedding function to attend, need to impress a business client or just want a fun vehicle for your vacation, this category is for you. Note that specialty lines cost extra and are limited to specific locations. Space and passenger capacity vary greatly, as does gas mileage.


When you need to haul equipment, travel over rough roads or need more passenger space, most rental companies have a wide selection of pickups and vans including passenger, cargo and SUVs, both regular and luxury. While they hold more people and luggage, these vehicles get very poor gas mileage compared with smaller cars and are more expensive.

Hybrid and electric cars

Many car rental companies are now offering environmentally friendly hybrid or electric cars featuring great gas mileage and a low carbon footprint.

Tips for renting a car

Make sure you are covered by insurance

If anything happens to a rental car, the renter may be liable for the damage. Some rental car companies offer additional insurance on vehicles for a daily fee. There are different types of coverage available. There also may be coverage from your credit card, personal or business insurance policies, however it may not cover everything.  Credit cards often provide coverage for rental cars, assuming you have used the card to pay for the rental and the rental is in your name. You’ll automatically have this coverage if it’s included with your credit card—no need to call or sign forms. Purchasing secondary coverage means your own auto insurance policy will pay out first.

  • Individual insurance: Car owners must have liability insurance to operate their vehicles. Many rental car agencies use the driver's insurance policy to cover the rental, but you need to know what is covered in the event of an accident. If you have collision and comprehensive coverage on your own policy, it generally will extend to a rental car. However, you will still be on the hook for your deductible.
  • Liability: Your own liability insurance will cover you when you’re driving rental cars. If you have really minimal liability coverage on your auto policy, you could buy the supplemental protection to boost your coverage. However, it is smarter to increase your own liability coverage.
  • Road hazard: Flat tires and other issues can crop up at any time. Road hazard coverage may be included on either an individual or agency policy, or it may be available as an add-on.
  • At the counter: A loss-damage waiver (LDW), also called a collision damage waiver (CDW), protects you in the event of incurred damage to the rental vehicle or theft of the car. It’s technically not insurance but rather a waiver that says the rental car company won’t proceed with litigation if the vehicle is damaged while you have it.
  • Supplemental liability protection: Supplemental liability protection will pay for damage you do to others’ vehicles or property. A typical limit is $1 million. If you have no auto insurance (for example, if you don’t own a car), you should buy this.
  • Personal accident insurance: Personal accident insurance covers medical costs for you and your passengers if you’re involved in an accident. This includes ambulance, medical care and death benefits.
  • Personal effects coverage: Personal effects coverage pays for your belongings if they’re stolen from the rental car, up to a set dollar amount.
  • Injuries: If you have health insurance, buying extra would largely be redundant. Similarly, if you are interested in death benefits, you should have a life insurance policy. Personal accident insurance also is not needed if you have personal injury protection through your auto policy.
  • Be aware: Each state has their own rules on insurance for rental cars. The reason to purchase additional insurance could save you in an accident where the vehicle is damaged. You will be responsible for the non-usage of that auto during the repair time window, which means you will have the rental fee billed to you until the vehicle is rentable to others. Check with your insurance agent before buying additional insurance.

Look for package deals

Many travel agencies and online travel sites offer packages that include a rental car. Businesses may need to work out specific agreements for rentals, so many rental agencies offer packages and plans.

  • Air, hotel and rental car: Many travel agencies offer a steep discount on the total price when travelers book their airfare, hotel and rental car at the same time.
  • Multi-car discounts: Businesses may support a fleet of cars with occasional rentals or have many traveling employees who need rental cars. Rental companies that offer discounts for multiple rentals can save a lot of corporate dollars.
  • Accident rental: Insurance policies may offer you rental car coverage while you wait for claims adjustment and repair service. The policy may pay a partial or full amount of the rental car’s cost, depending on your policy.

Take advantage of additional services

Many rental car companies offer value-added services that can smooth out the kinks of travel. Some have locations everywhere to make pickups and drop-offs faster, while others take care of all of the paperwork online or through their app. Typically airports are the most common place to rent a vehicle, although some rental car companies, ride share and car sharing services are offsite of airport properties.

  • Car drop-off: Not everyone can get to a rental car location to pick up a vehicle. To make the process smoother, some rental companies drive the car to the customer. There may be an extra fee, so be sure to ask in advance.
  • Rental returns: An after-hours return box can make all the difference in getting a rental car back on time. Not all offices are open 24 hours, but they should offer an after-hours service. This can be offered at any location.
  • Communication: If there is a problem, customers should be able to get in touch using any method that is convenient for them. The best rental car agencies communicate over the telephone and through email, fax and live chat.
  • Car pick-up: Some rental car companies, ride share and car sharing services require you to go to the vehicle. Many companies offer an app with directions to the location.

Ways to rent a car

Consumer rentals

These rental agreements are designed to be used with a driver's existing insurance policy so renters can get the lowest possible rates. Companies that specialize in consumer rentals may offer insurance for those who do not own a vehicle. Renters usually need to be 21 years of age.

Business rentals

Business rental programs typically offer discounts based on the number of rental days purchased each year. These programs may also include special rates for multiple cars rented on a single reservation.

Commercial rentals

These can range from high-end luxury vehicles designed to make an impression to refrigerated trucks or moving vans.

Vacation rentals

Companies that specialize in vacation rentals typically offer weekly rates and may have recreational vehicles like RVs or camper vans.

Ride sharing

Ride sharing is a service that arranges one-time shared rides on very short notice. This type of carpooling generally makes use of three recent technological advances: GPS navigation devices to determine a driver's route and arrange the shared ride, smartphones for a traveler to request a ride and social networks to establish trust and accountability between drivers and passengers.

Car sharing

Car sharing is a model of car rental where people rent cars for short periods of time, often by the hour. They are attractive to customers who make only occasional use of a vehicle, as well as others who would like occasional access to a vehicle of a different type than they use day-to-day.

Rental cars FAQ

Is it cheaper to rent a car for a week?
If you already need a rental car for several days, it’s sometimes cheaper to rent it for an entire week. Some companies offer discounts for long-term rentals that make it less expensive to rent vehicles for extended periods. Ask companies you’re considering renting from if they offer discounts.
How do I get the best car rental rate?
To get the best rate for your car rental:
  • Don’t get a rental at the airport. These locations typically charge more because they have a captive market.
  • Shop around on online travel sites to compare prices before renting. Be sure to look at the total cost because fees may differ between companies.
  • Get a car that only has the features you need. Larger, sportier cars cost more to rent.
Is it cheaper to rent a car from the airport?
No, it is usually more expensive to rent a car from the airport because demand is high and people are willing to pay more for the convenience. If you have the flexibility, renting a vehicle from a location outside of an airport is often cheaper.
Can a company rent a car for an employee?
Yes, a business can rent a car for an employee. However, this can be confusing when it comes to financial liability in the event of an incident. Make sure you understand the insurance coverage and whether you or your company is liable in case of an accident.
Can you rent a car seat with a rental car?
Yes, you can rent a car seat with a rental car. This is usually an additional cost, and you do not get to choose the type of car seat. Most airlines allow you to check a car seat for free, so bringing a car seat with you may also be a viable option.

Not sure how to choose?

Get buying tips about Rental Cars delivered to your inbox.

    By entering your email, you agree to sign up for consumer news, tips and giveaways from ConsumerAffairs. Unsubscribe at any time.

    Thank you, you have successfully subscribed to our newsletter!

    Car rental reviews

    E-Z Rent-A-Car

    E-Z Rent-A-Car started in Orlando with a fleet of only nine cars in 1994. Today, they operate in 20 states, including Alaska and Hawaii, and several foreign countries. Their fleet includes everything from sub-compact cars to large SUVs as well as trucks, vans and convertibles.

    Read more about E-Z Rent-A-Car
    Enterprise Rent-A-Car

    Founded in 1957, Enterprise has more than 7,000 locations across Europe and North America.

    Read 3762 Reviews

    Hertz offers rental cars in more than 150 countries across every inhabited continent. It has more than 10,300 corporate and franchise locations worldwide.

    Read more about Hertz
    Thrifty Car Rental

    Part of Hertz Global Holdings, Thrifty Rental Car has more than 1,000 locations in 77 countries. It focuses on serving cost-conscious consumers and business travelers.

    Read more about Thrifty Car Rental
    Dollar Rent A Car

    Since 1965, Dollar Rent A Car has grown to include more than 570 locations in 61 countries worldwide, including approximately 260 locations in the United States and Canada. As a part of The Hertz Corporation, this brand belongs to the largest airport and general-use car rental business worldwide.

    Read more about Dollar Rent A Car
    Alamo Car Rental

    As the largest rental car agency serving international travelers in North America, Alamo Car Rental focuses on major destination cities. Its 171 self-service kiosks in 63 U.S. locations streamline the rental process, resulting in an easy and hassle-free rental experience and improving check-out and check-in times. Alamo is owned by Enterprise.

    Read 922 Reviews
    Budget Rent-A-Car

    Founded in 1958 to appeal to the cost-conscious consumer, Budget is one of the most popular car rental brands. It serves renters in over 120 countries from its more than 3,000 locations. Budget is owned by Avis Rental Car.

    Read more about Budget Rent-A-Car
    National Car Rental

    National Car Rental was the first company to offer one-way rentals, computerized reservations and a loyalty program. The company is now owned by Enterprise Holdings.

    Read more about National Car Rental
    Payless Car Rental

    As an Avis subsidiary, Payless Car Rental operates more than 120 retail locations under a combined corporate and franchise model.

    Read more about Payless Car Rental

    Avis was the first car rental company to offer airport locations for traveling convenience. It is one of the world's largest rental car companies with more than 5,450 locations worldwide.

    Read more about Avis
    ACE Rent A Car

    ACE Rent A Car has grown from a neighborhood car wash into a rental company with more than 350 locations worldwide. It focuses on top leisure destinations for vacation rentals.

    Read more about ACE Rent A Car

    Silvercar aims to make the process of renting a car easier and more luxurious. You simply download an app and use it to book your rental. Then use your phone to unlock your rental car at your destination. You don’t have to wait in line or deal with rental car agents once you arrive.

    Read more about Silvercar

    This ride share program is a smarter way to get around the city. Drive cars by the hour or day in neighborhoods, cities and airports across the globe. There are over 11,000 in their fleet.

    Read more about Zipcar

    Compare Top Car Rental Company Reviews

    National Car Rental
    Read 320 Reviews

    National Car Rental makes reservations and car pick up and drop off quick and easy through their mobile app and membership in their Emerald Club. Emerald members can pick any car in an aisle, skipping the checkout counter.

    Chat with a ConsumerAffairs decision guide

    Live agent
    Dollar Rent A Car
    Read 1,806 Reviews

    Founded in 1966, Dollar Rent a Car has 570 locations globally. They have a full range of vehicles, along with convenience features such as car seats, express return and rental cars equipped for physically challenged drivers.

    Chat with a ConsumerAffairs decision guide

    Live agent
    Payless Car Rental
    Read 1,144 Reviews

    Payless Car Rental has some of the lowest prices on the market, with rentals as low as $10 a day. Shop their "Last Minute Deals," and "Deals of the Hour," to get great rates, in addition to their loyalty program rewards.

    Chat with a ConsumerAffairs decision guide

    Live agent
    Read 478 Reviews

    As a B2B company, CarTrawler gives rental companies access to a whole new kind of customer. It offers personalized solutions to companies, brands and travelers in need of the right kind of transport at the right price.

    Chat with a ConsumerAffairs decision guide

    Live agent
    Advantage Rent-A-Car
    Read 939 Reviews

    With locations in 143 countries, Advantage Rent A Car allows car renters to work with the same company worldwide. Saved preferences and discounts on multiple rentals make Advantage ideal for frequent travelers.

    Chat with a ConsumerAffairs decision guide

    Live agent
    Read 871 Reviews

    With more than 10,000 locations in more than 150 countries, Europcar allows travelers to book with confidence. When they drive across national borders, renters know that there is a local office ready to handle any problems.

    Chat with a ConsumerAffairs decision guide

    Live agent
    E-Z Rent-A-Car
    Read 1,179 Reviews

    E-Z Rent-A-Car makes travel a breeze with convenient pickup and drop-off locations at every major airport. The company's streamlined reservation process and best price guarantee makes renting a car stress free.

    Chat with a ConsumerAffairs decision guide

    Live agent
    Read 15 Reviews

    Silvercar is a car rental company that wants to make renting a luxury car easy and convenient. You can pick your rental up without waiting in line or talking to a rental car agent. The service is available at 18 airports.

    Chat with a ConsumerAffairs decision guide

    Live agent
    Read 43 Reviews

    Contrary to its name, Rent-A-Wreck focuses on low prices by offering a solid selection of everyday vehicles for rent. The company has a fleet that includes everything from economy cars to large passenger vans and more.

    Chat with a ConsumerAffairs decision guide

    Live agent
    Read 220 Reviews

    When you add PlatePass to any car rental, you get the convenience of using express lanes on highways and automatic toll collections. With PlatePass, drivers can avoid unexpected fines and violations from unpaid tolls.

    Chat with a ConsumerAffairs decision guide

    Live agent
    by Lauren Fix Auto & Finance Contributing Editor

    Lauren Fix, also called The Car Coach, is an automotive and auto finance expert. Her understanding of vehicles has made her the “go to” person on TV, radio, print media and the Internet. She has authored multiple books and writes a column for several outlets, including Parade Magazine, NewsMax and Car Coach Reports. She is a regular guest on major news and morning shows, discussing the latest updates on cars and car financing that will help drivers make smart decisions when buying, maintaining and financing cars.