Budget shares the value market with Alamo, Dollar, and Thrifty. As such, its benefits and rewards are aimed at the price-conscious occasional renter rather than the frequent business traveler.
Budget's program, termed Budget Fastbreak, offers some—but not all—of the benefits associated with sister company Avis's Preferred service, usually at a lower daily rate. Signing up for Fastbreak is free and only takes a minute or two.
Like Alamo's Insiders program, Budget Fastbreak largely serves as an express rental service rather than a rewards program.
Fast On A Budget—At Some Locations
At many major airports, Fastbreak offers a similar experience to Avis Preferred: proceed directly to the lot, choose your own car, drive to the exit gate, and show your license. Budget terms these "Fastbreak Choice" locations. Budget is probably the cheapest agency to consistently offer this type of service; its chief competitor, Alamo, actually removed that service several years ago, leaving only Budget plus the top-tier brands (Avis, Hertz, and National) with the ability to reserve and go straight to a car without doing anything else.
At smaller locations, which Budget terms "Fastbreak Counter" locations, the process involves stopping at a rental counter to show your license and retrieve your keys. Depending on the size, these locations will either have dedicated Fastbreak counters or priority Fastbreak lines, so waits shouldn't be too long.
Fast, But Not Very Rewarding
Budget has experimented with a rewards component to the Fastbreak program over the years, mostly without much success. Gone is the recent "Rent More, Save More" discount program—it's been replaced by a promotion good through the end of 2018, where every two rentals earns you a $25 Budget Bucks certificate that comes by mail.
Note that using a Budget Bucks certificate prevents you from earning credit towards another one, which effectively reduces the value of the certificate by half ($12.50). Also, you can't use a Budget Bucks certificate if you also use another coupon code on your rental—and since AutoSlash has coupons for Budget on file that give free days, take $25 off (without restricting you from earning more Budget Bucks), or even in some cases take as much as $75 off, Budget Bucks certificates are really only useful on rentals that other coupons don't usually work on (like some one-day or one-way rentals). That's a pretty big potential "gotcha."
Still, there's no reason not to sign up for it—just in case the certificate comes in useful. Hey, it's free money, even if there's a catch!
Budget Fastbreak's chief advantages are twofold: it's a free program, and it applies to Budget's typically lower rates. If you're a price-conscious traveler and find yourself renting with Budget, it's a no-brainer to sign up for Fastbreak, since it's free. On the other hand, the rewards program—while easy—isn't a huge reason to prioritize renting with Budget. Other companies can sometimes have lower rates than Budget, and there's little reason to stick with Budget in these cases.. In short, Fastbreak is a way to speed up your rental if you happen to be using Budget but shouldn't be much of a factor in your decision on who to use.
As a value brand, Budget's standards for things like shuttle frequency and car cleanliness are slightly lower than sister company Avis's, so if such things are important to you, consider paying the premium to move up to one of the business traveler brands. In that case, assuming prices are similar, we'd recommend National or Hertz over Avis.