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Each car rental company would like to claim that it offers the best perks and most options. But which one is actually the best car rental company?
While that may change depending on when and where you want to rent a car, let's compare the major car rental companies head-to-head on three important elements: availability, price and loyalty program.
For this analysis, we are considering eight major rental car brands:
These eight brands are all members of three larger car rental companies.
Enterprise Holdings (Enterprise, National and Alamo).
Avis Budget Group (Avis and Budget).
Hertz Corporation (Hertz, Dollar and Thrifty).
Each major car rental company group offers approximately the same number of rental locations. But Enterprise's fleet clearly stands out as the largest. While that won't guarantee Enterprise always has a car available, Enterprise certainly has more cars to go around.
However, note that Avis, Budget and Hertz offer car rental locations in more countries. So, these brands might be the best option depending on where you're traveling.
Number of rental car locations
The major car rental company groups each have an expansive global reach. But which offers the most options?
We don't have enough time to count all the locations ourselves. So, here's a recap of each car rental company group's reach based on their latest investor filings.
Car rental group
Countries and territories
Enterprise Holdings (Enterprise, National and Alamo)
More than 10,000.
More than 90.
Avis Budget Group (Avis and Budget)
More than 10,000.
Hertz Corporation (Hertz, Dollar and Thrifty)
Enterprise boasts more than 9,500 locations in nearly 100 countries and territories compared with just 1,100 locations across 84 countries for Alamo.
Compared to Enterprise, the Hertz brand offers fewer locations (around 8,500) but more countries (146). Avis offers even fewer locations (around 5,500) but the most countries (165). That makes it hard to determine a single winner by the number of locations alone.
Size of rental car fleet
Since the number of locations netted mixed results, let's turn to the size of each company's fleet. And here's where we find a clear winner.
During 2022, Enterprise grew its fleet to more than 2.1 million cars. Meanwhile, the Hertz group maxed out at 547,400 vehicles, and Avis' rental fleet averaged 479,672 vehicles in 2022.
That means Enterprise's fleet is approximately double the combined fleets of Hertz/Dollar/Thrifty and Avis/Budget.
The fleet size paired with its larger number of locations makes Enterprise the clear winner by availability.
NerdWallet recently completed a comprehensive analysis of rental car pricing statistics.
By checking prices for hundreds of rental car options, we identified the cheapest and most expensive airport locations, whether you should book in advance or wait until the last minute and whether it's worth commuting to a downtown location instead of renting from the airport.
This analysis also established the cheapest and most expensive car rental companies, and there was a clear winner and loser. For comparable one-week rentals, Enterprise offered the lowest rates (average $480), and National charged the highest (average of $695).
All other car rental companies were similar, falling in a range between $542 and $589 for a weeklong rental.
By loyalty program
Winner: Enterprise Plus
Once again, Enterprise comes out on top. Enterprise Plus offers the most traveler-friendly loyalty program of the three major car rental companies because:
It offers members a straightforward earning rate.
It has the lowest-cost redemptions.
Its expiration policy is generous, lasting three years.
Avis Preferred gives Enterprise some competition thanks to a minimum earning rate on rentals. However, Avis' extremely short expiration period can make it hard for travelers to build up points over time.
Travelers earn 1 Enterprise Plus point for every dollar spent on car rentals — before taxes, fees, fuel and surcharges. Free rental days start at 600 points.
That means you can earn a free rental day after spending $600 in base rental fees. Enterprise Plus points expire only if a member is inactive for more than 36 months (three years).
Avis Preferred members earn 1 point per dollar spent on rentals and 2 points per dollar spent on accessories — earning a minimum of 100 points per rental. Reward days start at 700 points, meaning you'll earn a free rental day for, at least, every seven rentals.
While Avis Preferred doesn't have blackout dates, reward days are grouped into levels based on the standard base rate for the rental. A 700-point redemption will only get you a free rental worth up to $50 base rate.
The downside is that Avis Preferred points expire if you don't have qualifying activity at least every 12 months.
Hertz Gold Plus Rewards
Gold is the base level in the Hertz Gold Plus Rewards program. Like Avis and Enterprise, Hertz members earn 1 Hertz Gold Plus Rewards point per dollar spent.
However, Hertz has devalued its Gold Plus Rewards programs twice in the past three years — generally with little to no notice.
As of the time of writing, Hertz Gold Plus Rewards redemptions start at 950 points for a 1-day Standard Rewards redemption or 1,900 points for a 1-day AnyDay Rewards redemption. Those are significantly higher redemption rates than those charged by either Avis or Enterprise.
Hertz Gold Plus Rewards points expire after 18 months of no rental activity.
» Learn more: The best credit cards for rental cars this year
What is the best car rental company?
Enterprise takes this competition in a unanimous decision. Enterprise offers the largest fleet, the lowest prices and the best rental car loyalty program overall.
With that said, Enterprise doesn't offer locations in as many countries as Avis, Budget and Hertz. If you're traveling outside of Enterprise's approximately 100-country reach, Avis and Budget are more likely to be around to serve your car rental needs.
How to maximize your rewards
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