US Car Hire: Your StrategiesBack to Forum
Anonymous11 Sep 2011
I rent cars in the US regularly, usually via either Avis (which now incorporates Budget, to be avoided) or Hertz.
What AWD/CDP codes do you use, and do you have any other deals you use to keep costs down?11 Sep 2011
I use Hertz with a UK registered Gold account. I use my Hawaiian AAA with that. Then I compare the UK and US rates. As I get CDW on my $ Card , the insurance makes no odds but some times the UK rate is cheaper with insurance than the US rate without.
The sneaky thing I do is never use pre pay. if you keep checkig your early bookings weekly you will find prices fluctuate based on availability and revenue management. My Christmas booking started at $1800 (GMC Yukon XL for 3.5 weeks in Hawaii – means I get everyone in one car which my SL does not do). Rebooked 2 months ago same booking for $1418.00. (Both via UK site including all taxes and insurances.) I will continue to check util last minute. In previous years there were other dips in November when some people finalize early reservations and you get cancellations. Based on previous years if you walk in you would pay $3500-$4000 + taxes and insurance.
Used Hertz, Avis, Budget, Thrifty, Dollar, Enterprise, National, Fox over the years. Hertz (Airport locations – I would avoid HLE) has good vehicles, gives you what booked and is efficient. Prices good in advance lousy at last minute. Avis prices have gone up recently. Generally less selection that Hertz particuarly with luxury, specialist and SUVs. Budget has some nice vehicels but service is very spotty and obviously aimed at vacationers. Thrifty and Dollar – avoid at all costs . Many times got cars nothing like I booked, refused to refund, cars with problems, cars with accident damage, no answer from telephone customer service, rude employees. I think their reliance on Chrysler cost them dear as they could not get any cars. Also bookings from UK are not treated as Thrifty or Dollar bookings but as European Tour Company voucher. Cannot express how bad they are. Enterprise is cheap tends to be in odd locations but can be cheap. NAtional had a few cars in bad repair but OK. Fox and locals very variable. Hope that helps. With many car rental companies your exeprience will vary from location to location and agent to agent. In my experience Hertz and then Avis are most consistent and most professional. Always book in advance and do not gte talked into extras like Buying full tank fo gas or extra insurances.11 Sep 2011
Enterprise is pretty good — especially at airport locations. Their IT is a pain and the European reservation centre cannot make US bookings (!) but if you actually manage to sign up for their rewards programme, renting can be quite painless. Because they’re now the biggest (they own National and Alamo as well), they have an excellent range of locations (they have co-located in some places). For example, Enterprise are the only ones with a location at Newark Penn station which is excellent if you’re coming from or taking Amtrak in the Northeast corridor (they describe it as Hilton Newark).
The best money-saving tip is to take out annual loss waiver insurance. A policy including the US costs just over £100 from essentialtravel.co.uk but it saves you about $25 a day on an average US rental (for loss damage waiver and more liability insurance ) Some credit cards do provide some coverage but I’ve never felt confident enough to rely on any in the shark’s tank that is the US legal system21 Jun 2012
I didnt realise that you could purchase a standalone policy to cover the waiver insurance for the USA. If this cost £100, it shows what good value the Amex Plat card is as this cover is included in the now £450 fee for the card.21 Jun 2012
I have booked direct with ost of the majors and via Avis BA using the Gold and silver card codes. However following advice from DOS last year have used moneysupermarket.com and their comparison site. Excellent deals.
However for outstanding value and for one of the few who gurantee a 4wd rather than just an SUV the winner in recent times is……
Fabulous car from Alamo at a fraction of what avisba demanded. No one came close and on collection I was taken to a separate area to collect my gurateed 4WD….rock start service indeed…….though it would not get me on board one their aircraft. Main draw back of course is payment up front.
Amex car hire cover is great.21 Jun 2012
I never book via the airlines website. Always much more expensive. Like Rich I also never prepay and hope to find the same car / firm cheaper nearer the time of travel.21 Jun 2012
Actually, while I agree that used to be the case I have found that http://www.avisba.com is highly competitive (though it’s a bit of a dog of a website).
Add to that the opportunity to earn bonus miles, free upgrades etc. and it’s often a better proposition than buying direct.
Others’ experience with Virgin Holidays would back that up.21 Jun 2012
Renting out of major US airport for 10 days over Independence Day. Using all the discounts Budget are cheapest, then National with Avis at 65% more ans Hertz 85% more. All UK rates with LDW and taxes (cheaper than best US discounts). Reason for post is total confusion why sometimes Hertz is much better deal, sometimes Avis, Budget or National. Not by a little but by almost twice as much. Last year 4 weeks rental in Hawaii ober Holidays was just over a third of the orhers (booked ahead), this year it is budget, yet trip to LAX Hertz is much cheapest. Cannot figure out leicing policy as it does
Not appear to relate to availability. Any thoughts?22 Jun 2012