Feeling lucky? With Thrifty's opaque Wild Card rate, you lock in a compact-car price but you may end up with something much bigger and nicer.
Sometimes rental car agencies find themselves overstocked on larger, nicer vehicles—say, SUVs and luxury cars—but they don't want to advertise them at huge discounts. About a decade ago, a Thrifty franchisee in Nashville came up with a novel idea: Why not create an opaque car class where customers pay a guaranteed low rate but have the chance at getting a premium or luxury car?
With the Wild Card program, you'll pay for a compact car. When you arrive to pick up your car, Thrifty will pick the vehicle for you. You might end up with a compact, a full-size, a minivan or even an SUV.
The idea caught on and spread to other Thrifty locations across the country and even to Thrifty's sister brand, Dollar, where it was dubbed with the slightly more cumbersome name of "Lock Low 'n' Go."
When Thrifty Wild Card is a Great Deal
Let's say that a compact car would be acceptable to you, but you'd prefer something bigger. Then it makes sense to try your luck with the Wild Card rate. For about the same price, you'll have the chance at getting something nicer and fancier without paying an extra cent. If you're feeling a ride on the wild side, Thrifty's Wild Card can net you savings on a car you might not normally want to pay for.
Note that when you book with AutoSlash, Thrifty's Wild Card option will sometimes show up as a standard size car on the pricing grid. When you click through to the car selection screen, you'll see a description of "Standard Special" and a description of "compact car or larger".
When Thrifty Wild Card is No Deal
On the other hand, if you absolutely need a specific car category or a minimum threshold for luxury, then the Wild Card rate is probably not worth the risk. Remember, you can't be picky about the kind of car you drive, since the rental car company will choose for you and it could be anything. If you're heading to an urban center, you might not want an SUV or a minivan. If the weather looks dodgy, you may not want a convertible. If you've got kids or a lot of luggage, you might need at least a full-size car.