According to research there are the following five factors when choosing transportation while on the road:
1 ) The Cost Factor
Is ride sharing really less expensive? That depends on where you’re going and what you have planned. Check Uber’s rates or Lyft’s rates for your destination to get a sense of how much a ride may cost. Consider parking and gas costs, too, and don’t underestimate how many trips you’ll take.
Forbes contributor Laura Shin did an exhaustive cost analysis of ride sharing vs. renting a car for her 10-day trip to Los Angeles.
2 ) The Hassle Factor
There are ways to reduce the annoyance of renting a car, of course. Firmly decline any extras. Document the car’s condition. And before you travel, purchase the Rental Car Damage Protector from Allianz Global Assistance. It protects you from paying for rental car damage or theft — even overseas — by providing collision loss/damage insurance coverage up to $40,000 for just $9 per calendar day. You’ll have to figure out the stick shift yourself, however.
3) The Destination Factor
Before you leave for your trip, do a little research on transportation options and challenges at your destination.
How’s the traffic? Is public transit widely available? Is Uber even operating?
4) The Danger Factor
Are you safer with your hands on the wheel, or someone else’s? In the United States, you probably feel confident doing it yourself. Overseas, where the rules of the road are different, it may be smarter to trust a local driver. Did you know that in Germany, running out of gas is illegal?
What if you get in an accident? The U.S. Uber insurance policy is pretty hefty, including up to $1 million in liability in case you’re hurt in a crash. Overseas, however, coverage varies. If you rent a car, the Rental Car Damage Protector may cover car damage or theft, but you’ll want to make sure you have liability coverage too.
5) The Freedom Factor
If you enjoy the spontaneity of seeing where the road will take you, renting a car makes more sense than ride sharing. Travel happy!
Is it better to rent a car or use a RideShare?
Depending on the situation, a RideShare like Uber or Lyft can save you some money. A lot depends on where you travel and how you plan to get around while you’re there.
- Hint: Consider how often you’ll need to use a vehicle
When you travel somewhere remote or in the wilderness, like a national park, a rental is your only choice. Another reason to choose a rental over a rideshare is you have control over your own driving situation.
Note: RideShare companies charge higher prices when there’s high demand, so during busier hours of the day, you’ll pay between one and half to two times more than the base fee.
So, if you decide on RideShare, do you choose Uber or Lyft?
A 2019 survey of 1,000 Uber and Lyft drivers from The Rideshare Guy found that nearly 84% of drivers said they work for more than one service.
Which RideShare Company is best?
Recent research indicated that customers are particularly sensitive about pickup times. When the process takes 15 minutes or less, their satisfaction scores are 33 points higher. That happens about 64% of the time.
Here’s how the major rental car companies ranked in the survey of nearly 10,000 travelers who rented a car from August 2018 through August 2019:
- Hertz: 856
- Enterprise: 855
- Alamo: 848
- National: 843
- Avis: 833
- Thrifty: 831
- Dollar: 826
- Budget: 825
More research broke down each rental car company by the “best” for certain categories:
- Best for Avoiding Additional Fees: Enterprise
- Best for Customer Service: National
- Best for Unlimited Mileage & Second Drivers: Alamo
- Best Airport Locations: Hertz
- Best Aggregator: Rentalcars.com
- Best Discounts: Avis
- Best for Paying Upfront: Budget
- Best for Rewards Programs: Dollar
- Best Online Check-In System: Thrifty
1. Enterprise: Best car rental site overall
- Most locations of any rental company
- Carshare offers hourly rentals
- Upgrades and priority service among rewards
- Rental upgrades not included in basic rewards tier
- Can sometimes be beaten on price
Enterprise has more car rental locations in the US than anyone else and, from what we’ve found, a lot more to offer than other car rental companies in the US. With over 4,600 locations across America (and almost double that around the world), if you need to rent a car, there’s a good chance an Enterprise office won’t ever be far.
The choice of vehicles on offer is hard to beat too, with upwards of 20 standard cars available along with 12 different types of SUV, and a host of luxury cars if you prefer to travel in style. Importantly, the hire cost that Enterprise charges are reasonable as well, with lower single-day rentals usually much cheaper than average.
The rewards program – Enterprise Plus – which awards points for each dollar you spend, offers excellent benefits to regular customers too, including car upgrades and a priority checkout line for faster pick ups.
2. Thrifty: Best value car rental site
- Low daily rental costs
- Free rewards program
- Points accrue for each dollar spent
- Fewer locations than other rental companies
- Black out days in rewards program
- Points can expire
Thrifty by name, Thrifty by nature – offering the best daily rates and better than average weekly rates too, Thrifty is our choice for the best value car rental service. By joining its free Blue Chip rewards program, spouses can drive for free too, so you’ll save money there as well.
Signing up as a Blue Chip member will allow you to earn points for each dollar you spend on car rentals too, which you build up to qualify for free rentals. Then there’s the “skip the counter” perk, allowing you to go straight to the lot to pick up your car, and a priority counter service too. That said, the notice of black out days when you can’t use your free rental, and the loss of points after two years of inactivity, means the program is certainly not as rewarding as some.
That there’s only around 300 Thrifty offices across the US might pose a problem too, but if one is nearby, and you need to rent a car, they’re sure to offer you a terrific price.
Read our Thrifty review
3. Hertz: Best car rental site rewards program
- Has rental locations across US
- Huge range of car choice
- Outstanding rewards program
- More expensive than other services
- Black out days, unless you use 2x points
Joining a car rental rewards program costs nothing, so you might as well sign up and see what you can earn – in this respect, Hertz’s Gold Plus Rewards program is one of the best. In addition to basic benefits like points and expedited checkout, this rewards program includes options like free vehicle upgrades and expedited drop-offs.
As is standard for rewards programs, you earn one point for each dollar spent at Hertz. These rewards are also earned for add-ons like car seats, insurance and other optional services, and if you regularly hire cars, you’ve got the chance to climb the reward ranks and become a Five Star or President’s Circle member too. Here you’ll get more points on your rental spend, and the chance of upgrades and even more lavish rewards on which to spend your points.
Hertz has around 3,000 locations in the US, and a huge presence across the world too – this is worth remembering as rewards apply outside of the US as well. And as the choice of vehicles that Hertz has to offer is wide ranging too, you should have little problem finding a car that suits you.
Read our Hertz review
4. Dollar: Best for weekly car rentals
- Low weekly rates
- No blackout dates on rewards
- Only has 230 locations
- Smaller choice of vehicles than elsewhere
If your car rental requirements are likely to span a week or longer, Dollar is a good place to start your search. While setting the standard for weekly rates, the Dollar website usually has a number of offers that you can take advantage of as well, in particular the saving of 25% if you’re happy to prepay for your car.
There’s an excellent rewards program on offer too, with achievable points targets and no blackout dates to confuse matters when you want to cash in what you’ve earned for a free rental. The one thing that might hold Dollar back is its relatively small presence of just 230 US locations. However, if you find one nearby, and are looking to rent for the longer term rather than just a day, Dollar is a great car rental choice.
Read our Dollar review
5. Avis: Best for international car rentals
- Locations in 165 countries
- Competitive weekly rates
- Rewards program not as generous as others
- Cheaper rentals are often available
With more than 5,500 locations in over 160 countries worldwide, Avis is the familiar name that provides car rental solutions for international travelers everywhere. Even if you’re still at home, and looking to hire in the US, there’s getting on for 2,000 offices from which you can rent, enough to make Avis one of the largest car rental companies in America.
The vehicle choice is exceptional as well, with all bases covered from economy through to luxury cars, along with vans, SUVs and much more. If you want to go green, hybrid vehicles can be rented too.
While you’ll probably be able to find better prices elsewhere, charges are no worse than average and the weekly rates are sometimes better than what you’d find at other rental companies. There’s a rewards program to inspire your loyalty too, although with points thresholds slightly higher than what you’d find elsewhere, you’ll need to be a frequent traveler to take proper advantage.
Read our Avis review
6. National Car – best for customer service and car selection
National Car is known for skipping the line and going directly to the car lot.
You can join Emerald Club to take advantage of this perk and start getting your rewards.
The ability to choose your own car on the lot is liberating. Just pick the car, load up, and check out at the gate.
They offer Executive Isle as the next tier which is another level of cars which is great.
The highest tier is Executive Elite which gives you free rental cars sooner, guarantees a car within 24 hours of your rental, and, but wait there’s more, amazing car upgrades if you simply ask.
My Personal Take…
I choose RideShare in these examples:
Going to the airport from home and on my way home – I love not having to park, wait on the bus but being dropped off and going straight to security. If you listened to episode 095 on packing like a pro on business travel (create link), you’ll know I rarely check a bag so RideShare in this example is ideal.
RideShare when I’m only downtown a big city such as NYC, LA, etc.
Uber or Lyft for me? All depends on who’s closest especially if the price is close. Every once in awhile, Uber is just outrageous to and from the airport for me and I’ll wait a little longer for this reason if it’s extreme otherwise, I really don’t have a preference.
I choose Rental Cars in these examples:
When I need to have the convenience of a car for my schedule – If I’m driving to multiple cities, RideShare is just not an option. (example: Flying into San Diego, going to Orange County and flying out of LA or flying into Dallas, driving to Austin then flying home from San Antonio)
When I’m hauling others around – dinners, coworkers, etc.
When I don’t want to be hauling my carry-on all day on my last day of my trip – tried it and not a fan
Which is my rental car company of choice? I’m a National Car guy. Love me some Executive Elite (there’s my word elite again;). I not only pick any car on the lot, I even get access to the “private stash”
It all comes down to the following details:
Company policy – budget for cars / corporate rates with certain companies
Personal preference – what works best for you in your quest to becoming an elite road warrior so you can perform at the highest level
You’ve got this!
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