Today we received a reader question about Car rental and what you can expect these days when renting a vehicle at the airport or from a local agency in town – is it still worth renting a car?
Car rental companies have faced an uphill battle since Covid as there was initially very little demand, then Hertz went bankrupt, followed by a sudden surge in demand after travel restrictions were lifted .
This situation has led to crazy prices for rental cars in many markets and this is now being amplified by manufacturers having supply chain/production issues resulting in a shortage of vehicles for rental companies.
Our reader Fred asked if it was really a good idea to rely on a rental car like he always has or if it was better to consider a combination of public transport/rideshare/taxi in order to get around. save the hassle and above all the costs.
It depends on the destination and the things the traveler does locally. In many cities where previously driving was almost mandatory (like Los Angeles), you can now get around quite well with public transport and ride-sharing providers, as long as you don’t have to drive long distances every day. Ultimately, it’s a cost-benefit comparison. How much are you willing to pay for a rental car, gas, and parking per day that you otherwise can’t allocate to Uber or Metro?
And what are car rental companies offering right now, should you decide to rent a car?
It again depends on where you rent from and then what brand. In the US, I still like National and Sixt. I’ve been renting from Hertz for two decades, but the quality of their cars has deteriorated so badly that I haven’t had a single rental with them in 2022.
Here are some videos with a selection of rental cars by major companies, provided by a Youtube channel (Adventures on the road) that I am :
I like this channel because it gives you a very good overview of the current state of affairs with rental companies and what awaits you in the field.
Since the early 2000s I have mainly rented with Hertz and National, but in recent years more with Sixt. the prices are often more competitive and the quality of the cars much higher, especially with the upgrade to a Sixt Diamond or Platinum member.
How much do cars cost now? I’ve seen everything from $50/day to $250/day and especially since Covid the prices are higher. Sometimes you can get cheaper rates on weekends or through a corporate discount, but the problem with car rental companies these days is that they can’t make that much money anymore. quickly getting their new vehicles back on the market, simply because they can’t get as many new cars anymore due to manufacturers’ supply chain issues.
Many cars in Hertz lots, for example, have over 40,000 miles on the clock. This is a very high number compared to what they were renting to their customers. Agencies have to keep the cars longer and as a result the mileage is higher and the quality of the cars has gone down as many renters do not treat the vehicles with care and respect.
And while we’re talking about Hertz, do you remember the cars they reported as stolen, resulting in the arrest of over 40 innocent customers? Ridiculous.
Renting a car has become expensive, tedious and also lost its appeal due to frustrating processes in many cases. The selection also often leaves something to be desired. You can easily carpool or take public transit to many cities rather than spending hundreds on a rental car plus the expense of $5/gal gas and $50/night parking (if you have luck).
I like to drive and be mobile, but some of these rental companies have pushed the limits a bit too much. Cars in poor condition, often with a long list of damage, are just one piece of the frustrating puzzle. I always take a video of the cars before leaving the lot to later have proof of the exact condition and damage as I often had an argument on the way back where the agencies accused me of damaging a car ( more in Europe than in the United States but still ).