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Which car rental company is best - Alessandro Giovinazzo
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Which car rental company is best

This article is the second part of the guide about  the best car rental companies. In the first part I unveiled the 5 golden rules on how to find the best car rental deals. Now it’s time to review the main car hire websites and find out which car rental company is best.

 

What is a car rental search engine?

Basically, it is the Expedia or Skyscanner of car rentals. It searches other car rentals websites, compares them and shows you the best results. Most of the best deals you will find on website like Happy Car rather than on the reseller website itself. Often, to finalize the booking, it will redirect you to the actual car rental company website. In most cases they re only intermediaries.

 

Car Rental Companies Compared

I selected and tested some of the most famous and better reviewed online car rental companies and car rental search engines. I pretended I would land in Italy at Milan Malpensa Airport and that I need a car for an entire week, 7 full days.  I would drop it off early on the morning of the 8th day.

Dates Selected: 14 July 12pm – 21 July 2019 9pm

This way I had the opportunity to notice if I’ll be charged for the 8th day, which I shouldn’t most likely. Usually the company charges you an additional day when one drops off the car after 10am or 12pm. It’s the same policy applied by most hotels when you book a room: if you check out too late you’ll be charged an extra full day.

Location: Pickup and drop off at Milan Malpensa Airport.

Type of car: I did my test selecting compact cars and city cars, which are the most requested for short rentals by tourists or business travellers.

Currency: Euro. Few website though where not allowing another currency, in those cases I provided the currency exchange, based on google average market exchange rate.

 

– Happy Car

Happy Car is a car rental search engine and it finds pretty good deals. Here what I found on Happy Car for one week: a small Smart Car, easy to park (which is a bonus if you will be in a busy city or historical ones where parking space is limited), quick in the traffic and perfect for two people with a cabin luggage dimension, for less than €100. Adding €20-€30 you could rent a larger city car as a Volkswagen Golf or an Opel Corsa. In case you need more space or you travel with a large family or group of friends, for about €150 you can have a Fiat 500L (L stays for Large). It is built on the same base panel of the Jeep Renegade, so lengths and width are the same even if their look is very different.  Summarizing, for €20/day you can get a very comfortable and spacious car or for about €14 a small and agile compact car. Check out the slide below.

– AutoEurope.eu

Even if AutoEurope has a big banner on its page claiming a 40% summer discounts, their deals aren’t as good as Happy Car’s. The smallest car, a classic Fiat 500, goes out for €27/day. Vehicles of the same dimension on Happy Car are cheaper and for about €27/ you can get a larger city car as an Opel Corsa.

– Car Hire Search.co.uk

As you can see from the extension “.co.uk”, Car Hire Search is British-based. The standard currency used for the quote is GBP (British pound) but it’s easy to change it. As you can see from the photo below, Car Hire Search offers some great deal, even better than Happy Car, which it was surprising. Using their website allows us to save an extra €20 to €50 Euro/Us-Dollars. Definitely worth a few minutes of your time.

 

– Kayak

Kayak is one of my favourite websites to find airfares deals. Now it also offers car rentals, so I decided to test it and it didn’t disappoint me. Its prices are in line with the one found on Happy Car and I also found a car model which It wasn’t available on websites: a Ford Focus. Not that I do really care personally, but if you love Fords maybe you do!

– Travel Supermarket

I have just recently discovered it and tested so here the result: Travel Supermarket is another British-based company, as you can see from the fact that it shows prices in British Pounds. I found a small compact car for 80pounds/day (€88) and a larger city car for 116pounds (€130). The prices are in line with Happy Car and Kayak. what’s good form this website is that you can search for travel insurance too!

– Hipmunk

This is a company based in US, reason why the quotes are in Usd $. The quotes are more expensive compared to the other European companies. This data matches the general fact that cost of life and car rentals are actually more expensive in Us. My result shows there are much better option than Hipmunk.

– Skyscanner

I have been using Skyscanner for a long time and for a long time it was my favourite website where to find cheap flight tickets. Recently has lost “its magic touch” (read here what opinion on the matter). But before writing this article I have never used for car hire, so i gave it a go.  And here the result are good.

I found a Smart, which is a compact car for €83, as you can see from the screenshots. I also have found a few city cars in the same category of a Volkswagen Golf for about €130. These prices are in line again with Happy Cars and Kayak. Nonetheless, there are two downsides to Skyscanner: 1) there are less good deals than on the other two competitors and overall the cars offered are more expensive. 2) The deals are categorized by vehicle category (mini, small, compact, premium

etc.), so the car shown near the description won’t necessarily be the one you get.

I must warn you this is very common: in fact often I have learned the rental company policy is such that they have to give you a car of the same size/category if the one you selected isn’t available. What I didn’t really like in this case is that the photo near the description doesn’t really match and this is confusing. For example, look at the photo below. According to Skyscanner chart the economy car should be considered an upgrade of the compact, but if you would only look at the photos would be difficult to understand which car is larger. And if you need a car for 4/5 people this can be very confusing and turning out in the wrong choice. So even if you can find some good deals I still suggest you to use the competitors. Skyscanner’s golden age seems ended unfortunately!

 

– Rentalcars.com

This photo contains say it all:  $144 (€127) for a classic small Fiat 500, almost €60 more expensive than Car Hire Search and about €50 than Kayak and Happy Car. The only good thing of RentalCars.com is the included theft protection, but what about if you don’t need it where you are going? A much better way to invest those €60 euro is supporting my blog with a donation 🙂 and i might even drive around Italy :D.

.- EconomyBookings.com

You can find some good deals as the photo shows, but again you are booking per category. We will actually get that nice and large crossover Fiat 500X with 5 doors and 5 seats, or will be given another random “economy” car? Who knows! On the lower part of the photo you can have a glimpse of other categories and their prices of Economy Bookings.

– CheapTickets.com

As the name states clearly CheapTickets.com was born in Us as a search engine for airplane tickets. As many other competitors now also offer other services as car hire. Should we consider it?

NO! As for the previous website, a super small car (like a Smart) comes at a pricy cost: $154 (€136). It’s even more expensive than EconomyBookings. Definitely not a deal, considering what we have found so far.

 

Conclusion

Which car rental company is best?

According to my tests these are the best car rental companies:

  1. Care Hire Search
  2. Happy Car
  3. Kayak

 

Read the full guide on How to find cheap car rentals

I hope you have found this guide useful. Please write your experience and comment about car hiring.
Safe Trip,
Alessandro

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