July 11, 2022

How to Make Sure you Have the BEST Rental Experience

We all know the perception of renting a car. For years, there have been jokes and stories about people's bad experiences renting cars. Many probably remember the Seinfeld episode where he goes to pick up a car he reserved, and the company doesn't have it.

It may seem like a pipedream, but we assure you, you can, in fact, have a great experience renting a car. All you have to do is follow a few simple rules:

  1. Choose a supplier rated 8 or higher
  2. Look for the deposit amount
  3. Select a good pick-up location type
  4. Be wary of the cheapest prices (you get what you pay for)
  5. Take photos of the car

How to Make Sure you Have the BEST Rental Experience

By Aleksandrs Buraks | Published July 11, 2022
We all know the perception of renting a car. For years, there have been jokes and stories about people's bad experiences renting cars. Many probably remember the Seinfeld episode where he goes to pick up a car he reserved, and the company doesn't have it.

It may seem like a pipedream, but we assure you, you can, in fact, have a great experience renting a car. All you have to do is follow a few simple rules — and we're going to list them all right here.

  1. Choose a supplier rated 8 or higher
  2. Look for the deposit amount
  3. Select a good pick-up location type
  4. Be wary of the cheapest prices (you get what you pay for)
  5. Take photos of the car

Supplier ratings

The single most important factor in how your experience renting a car will go is the rating of the supplier.

We ask every customer to rate the supplier they rented from after they drop off the car. We show these ratings in the search results with a breakdown of how customers rated the supplier across different factors (like how much time they spent waiting).

We've found that suppliers rated eight or higher provide the best service.

If you want to be sure you'll get the best service, choose one of our suppliers that has won our Excellent Service Award. These have a badge in the search results, as you can see below.

The deposit

Once you've found a good supplier, be sure to see what the security deposit for the car will be. If the deposit is more than you would like to leave, try to find one with a lower deposit.

With many suppliers, you can also purchase additional insurance, which will lower the amount required for the deposit (or even waive the deposit altogether).

Most of the time, you'll need to leave this deposit with a credit card. Many bad rental experiences stem from renters missing this critical information. Rarely a debit card will be accepted. Check the Security Deposit section of the Rental Conditions to see. There's also a filter on the search page (payment card at pick-up) that you can use to find cars for which you can use a debit card for the deposit.

Pick-up location type

Another factor many overlook when booking a rental car is where they will actually pick it up. Many just assume that if they find a car at the airport it will be quick and easy.

Some pick-up location types can be a hassle, especially if your flight is delayed.

It's best to choose a supplier that is either in the terminal or in the car rental center of the airport.

Those that offer free shuttle service are also convenient, though it will take more time for you to get to their location.

Suppliers that offer Meet & Greet can provide great service, but it may be a struggle if your flight is delayed, as they may leave the airport after waiting a certain amount of time.

Here's a complete description of each type:

  • In terminal - An easy way to pick up your rental is by choosing a supplier with a desk in the airport terminal. Most of these desks are right in the baggage claim area.
  • Meet & Greet - Someone will meet you at the airport. They may either bring the car to the airport for you or take you to their location to pick it up. It's important that you enter your flight number if you choose Meet & Greet.
  • Free shuttle service - You'll have to find a shuttle (usually right outside the terminal) to the supplier's location, which could be at the airport or just outside of it. The shuttle usually takes no more than 15 minutes.
  • Car rental center - You'll go to the center where all of the suppliers at the airport are located. At some airports, this center is right next to the terminal, while others are a shuttle ride away — this shuttle will be the same for all suppliers.
  • Outside of terminal - You'll find the supplier's desk outside the terminal but on the grounds of the airport. Usually, it will be within walking distance of the terminal or the car rental center.

You can filter to see just offers with the pick-up type you want on the sidebar of the search results. When searching on the mobile version, you can find the filters in the upper-right corner under All Filters.

You get what you pay for

The old adage rings true with rental cars. If a rental car deal looks too good to be true, it likely is.

So to have the BEST rental car experience, make sure to skip those suppliers that offer rock-bottom prices. Of course, if you follow rule 1, you'll likely be doing this by default. There's a strong correlation between ratings and price, unsurprisingly.

This doesn't mean you have to go with the most expensive offer, or that that offer would even be best for you. Some suppliers may have higher prices because they simply have fewer cars available at that time.

The rule is easy — simply don't book the cheapest car.

Take photos of the car

You're about to set off and take a lot of photos of your trip — before you do, take photos of the entire exterior of your rental when picking it up.

A notorious issue for renters is being charged for damage that they don't think they caused. Without pictures or it being marked on the vehicle inspection sheet, you won't be able to prove it was there beforehand — and you might end up with a hefty charge.

So just snap a few shots, preferably while the agent is there, and you'll have a worry-free trip.
So that's all there is to it. In our experience, following these simple rules leads to having the best rental experiences. So all you'll have to worry about is having a great time on your trip.

Aleksandrs Buraks

Head of Growth at DiscoverCars.com
Aleksandrs has over 10 years of experience in marketing with a focus on creating stellar content that provides topical insights using data. Having taken five road trips across Europe and one in the U.S., he is passionate about traveling by car. His favorite countries to visit are Denmark and Thailand. You can find him on Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter.