Rental car customers are happier overall with the airport rental experience these days, according to J.D. Power's 2018 North America Rental Car Satisfaction Study. In fact, renting a car has officially become the most satisfying part of the North American travel experience, beating out satisfaction with airports and airlines. This year, satisfaction with renting a car at the airport hit an all-time high in the survey's 23-year history.
Enterprise was the top-ranked car rental company for the fifth consecutive year, followed by Hertz and National. Avis came in at slightly below the industry average.
"Lower prices continue to have a positive effect, but we're also seeing increased satisfaction with the vehicles themselves, the reservation process and mobile apps," says Michael Taylor, Travel Practice Lead at J.D. Power, in a statement.
"The car rental experience is getting better, especially in the U.S.," agrees AutoSlash president Jonathan Weinberg. "Some of this is a greater focus by management on customer service, and better technology has also played a role in helping the rental companies to deliver a better customer experience."
The Best and Worst Car Rental Companies at Airport Locations
Satisfaction with renting a car at the airport rose to an industry average of 830 points on the market-research firm's 1,000-point rating system, which is a slight increase from 2017. These were the top-ranked car rental companies:
- Enterprise 862, beating the average by 32 points
- Hertz 848, up 26 points since 2017
- National 846
- Avis 824, coming in just below the industry average
Notably, brands aimed at budget travelers—Thrifty, Dollar and Budget—were the lowest-rated in J.D. Power's annual survey of 12,000 business and leisure travelers who rented from an airport location. More than 73 percent of respondents had rented for leisure travel.
AutoSlash Has a Different Take
But how does the J.D. Powers survey results compare to AutoSlash's assessment? "It's interesting to see Hertz ahead of National in the survey. Based on our experience and feedback from our customers, we'd rank National first. National is still clear and away the king of service and it offers the nicest vehicle selection," says Weinberg. "We'd place Hertz second, followed by Avis third, Enterprise fourth, Budget and Alamo tied for fifth, and finally Dollar and Thrifty."
How to Improve Your Car Rental Experience
There may be two easy ways to make your own experience better, according to the J.D. Power survey:
Use the app. Overall satisfaction among customers who use a brand's mobile app is 58 points higher than with those who do not. Currently, just 30 percent of customers say they use a rental car mobile app. Rental car apps are used most frequently for making reservations (47%); getting information (42%); and check-in (40%).
Touch base with the agent. Positive impressions often stem from human interaction. Having a positive interaction with staff in the reservation and return processes were associated with the highest levels of overall rental car customer satisfaction.
- Review: Enterprise Rent-a-Car App
- Review: Hertz Rental Car App
- Review: National Car Rental App
- Review: Avis Rent a Car App