The Best Car Rental Companies in America

Throughout the pandemic, the travel industry has been disrupted, especially with rental cars, due to shortages that have led to a car rental apocalypse. As things return to a new normal, travelers are wondering: what are the best car rental companies in America? And is it still possible to find a cheap car rental?

JD Power, a global leader in consumer insights, data and analytics, has the answers. The company just released the 2022 North America Rental Car Satisfaction Study, which ranks the best and worst car rental companies and measures customer satisfaction.

The good news: Airport-based car rental companies have come to grips with the vehicle shortage that caused customer satisfaction to plummet last year. The bad news: Cheap car rentals are a thing of the past. With fees rising rapidly, the cost of renting a car has increased by 14% this year. In fact, the average rental fee quoted by customers is now nearly $90 per day. Compare that to 2019, when the average daily cost of a rental car was $76.

So why haven’t prices come down if the supply issues have been resolved? “Demand for rental cars is still relatively high, which follows the basic economic principle of demand that drives prices,” Taylor says.

This has led to a decline in overall customer satisfaction for the industry, with a score of 829 this year, down from 830 in 2021 and 841 in 2020. This means brand affiliation is declining in these times of inflation,” says Michael Taylor, travel intelligence manager at JD Power.

But it’s not all bad news. “Staff professionalism (in all areas) is up slightly and rental car attributes are up significantly (except for car features), indicating that some of the fleet and staffing issues in 2021 staff are improving,” Taylor said.

So what are the winners and losers when it comes to car rental companies?

Enterprise ranked first in overall customer satisfaction for the second year in a row, followed by National and Alamo in third place.

“Enterprise’s core strength is providing value for the price paid for the rental car,” says Taylor. “Although nearly all car rental companies saw lower Cost and Fee Index scores compared to a year ago, Enterprise still retained the top spot for value.”

The next three companies on the list, National, Alamo and Hertz, also ranked above the industry average. “Alamo and National share the same parent company with Enterprise (Enterprise Holdings),” says Taylor. “Hertz has improved rental car availability and its scores on rental car details (appearance, performance, features, etc.) have improved compared to a year ago.”

At the bottom of the list was Thrifty. “Although Thrifty improved nearly every other factor in JD Power’s study, renters felt that Thrifty did not offer good value compared to other rental car brands,” says Taylor. “It’s not necessarily the cheapest daily rate that ‘wins’ in the cost and expense category, it’s really the value of the car and the service received.”

So where are things going? “Our analysis shows a steady state for the car rental industry, although there is a risk that aging fleets will affect customer satisfaction, customer loyalty and industry profitability,” Taylor says. “Older cars have higher maintenance costs and lower resale value.”

Read on to see lists of the best and worst car rental companies in America; you can also get more details about the JD Power survey here.

Car rental companies ranked in America

  1. Company
  2. National
  3. Alamo
  4. Hertz
  5. Notice
  6. Dollar
  7. Budget
  8. thrifty


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