For some, renting a car and heading out on a road trip represents the quintessential getaway, since driving through quaint villages in Europe, from beach to beach in Hawaii, or even along iconic routes like California’s Pacific Coast Highway, is about both the journey and the destination.
Innovation, however, has been a problem for some rental agencies, which have been slow to adopt new technology. Though this has opened the door for disruptors like Uber, Lyft, and Turo, along with many other ride-sharing and rental companies, the legacy brands are now evolving with the times. Last year, Avis, which placed at No. 4 on this year’s World’s Best list, won cheers for its reimagined smartphone app that allows you to pick out your car before you arrive at the rental outlet and unlock it with the same wireless satellite technology used by ZipCar, which it acquired in 2013. “I have never been disappointed with Avis cars or availability,” said one reader. “The customer service is upbeat and helpful.”
No. 2 winner Enterprise consistently ranks highly for service and for the quality of its vehicles, while its sister company Alamo wins them over with great pricing and its Insiders program, which gives members an automatic 5 percent discount. “Being a reward member has been a positive experience,” said one reader of the No. 5 ranking company, while also praising its mobile technology. “I signed up so I could check in on my phone and it has been really convenient. I used to feel really anxious about returning rental cars to airports in time to make flights, and Alamo has taken the worry away.”
How do we determine the best? Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Car-rental companies were rated on their service, value, vehicle selection and availability, and rental locations. Read below for details on the No. 1 winner — and to see how its competitors fared with our readers.
Stellar customer service, convenient rental locations, an easy booking process, and the ability for loyalty members to skip the counter and choose their own vehicle are among the many reasons readers ranked National as the No. 1 agency. “It has the best selection in value for rental-car companies, especially if you’re in the Emerald Club,” said one reader. Renters can also accumulate rewards points by booking cars through its sister company Enterprise, and holders of the Chase Sapphire Reserve travel-reward credit card can get discounts on rentals. “Their app makes things very easy,” added another fan. “Great company.”