Rating the best rental car companies in 2024 (and 'best' is not so good)



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If taking an airline flight doesn’t generate enough anxiety, there’s the march from the arrival gate to the rental car counter. A recent report from the ConsumerAffairs watchdog organization examined consumers’ experiences to rate the best rental car companies from among eight major brands. The highest score possible was five stars, with one star the lowest.

The top rated company, National, received 2.3 stars.

That’s not an awfully convincing measure of trust. And consider that six of the eight rental firms were each rated at less that two stars. Besides National and its sister brands — Enterprise and Alamo — the companies that were ranked in the survey included Hertz, which owns Dollar and Thrifty, and Avis, aligned with Budget.

What’s wrong with this picture? The customer reactions can be attributed to one major factor: frustration. To illustrate the situations, ConsurmerAffairs asked some customers to tell them about their dealings with rental car services.

Among them was Drew, of Lakeville, Minn., who said he rented a car from Alamo at the Sarasota, Fla., airport. After driving off the lot, he said a dashboard warning advised that there was zero percent of life left in the engine oil, suggesting the vehicle had not been serviced recently.

“After speaking to roadside assistance, they told me I was unable to drive the vehicle and they were sending someone to tow the vehicle and setting up an Uber to bring me to another branch to exchange the vehicle,” Drew wrote. But Drew said the new location had no cars. He was told to drive to his lodging and that a manager would call with a new plan. Drew said no call ever came.

Another episode involved tolls. A Massachusetts woman said she’d rented a car from Dollar at San Francisco’s airport and was asked if she would cross any toll bridges. Nope, she said. Nonetheless, she was charged an extra $134.91 for pre-paid tolls, just in case. She said she was told she would be credited that amount if she encountered no tolls.

“When I returned the car I told the attendant that I did not use any toll roads and wanted that charge removed,” she told the consumer group. “He told me I would have to speak with someone in the office. I contacted them when I returned home and was told that since I signed the rental agreement with the charge, that I was responsible for the charges.”

ConsumerAffairs has compiled more examples of rental car drama, listed here.

Rating the best car rental companies in 2024:

  1. National, 2.3 stars
  2. Alamo, 2.1
  3. Enterprise, 1.6
  4. Dollar, 1.2
  5. Hertz, 1.1
  6. Thrifty, 1.1
  7. Avis, 1.1
  8. Budget, 1.1



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