The Best Rental Car Companies For Golfers

I watch a lot of golf on TV, and I've noticed a trend over the years:

More and more ads for rental car companies.

Maybe that's one reason why we get so many people asking, "What's the best rental car company for golfers?"

Here’s my take on it:

I didn't want to get into all of the following on the above video, but here are factors to consider in determining the best rental car companies for traveling golfers:

Location, Location, Location
Remember when most car rental counters were located right next to the baggage claim? That sure made it easy to fly in and get to the tee on time. Some airports and companies are still better at this than others. Orlando stands out as one airport where the car rental desks are "right there." San Francisco, not so much.

Checkout Speed
Is it me or does renting a car at the counter take WAY longer than it should? I mean, you have my reservation information. Why are you typing so much?! (Sorry, had to vent.) Some companies, such as National and its Emerald Club, allow you to bypass the checkout line altogether, which is...awesome.

Size (and Model) Matters
When traveling with other golfers, golf clubs, golf travel bags, and suitcases, you're likely going to need a large trunk and/or a large vehicle like an SUV or minivan to fit everything. Every rental company has these kinds of cars, but not all have an adequate supply of them and offer non-gouge pricing. Keep in mind, too, since rental car companies express their size classifications as [Car Model] “or similar,” it’s best to know what, “or similar” means.

Advanced Savings
A number of the major rental car companies offer discounts if you pay for your car in advance of picking it up, sometimes with discounts of more than $100. This seems like a no-brainer that you might be able to parlay with the "kill-'em-with-kindness" maneuver Craig mentioned in the above video.

Loyalty Has its Rewards
I'm not sure this is golf-specific, but a good loyalty program is key. Again, most of the major companies have them, but some are better than others, such as the invitation-only "Avis First." Members receive free upgrades, line-skipping privileges, members-only deals, and a dedicated customer service phone number.

To sum up, it seems to us that the "ideal rental car company for golfers" would offer the following:

- Easy, on-airport locations
- Good availability and pricing on larger vehicles
- The ability to skip the checkout counter if necessary
- The ability to save by paying in advance
- A robust loyalty program

What do you think?

What's your pick for "best rental car company for golfers"?

Which companies minimize the hassle?

Any that golfers should avoid?

Please share your thoughts or read what others are saying below.

Craig Better is one of the founding editors of Golf Vacation Insider. In addition to traveling to 15 foreign countries, he has twice traveled across America to play golf courses in all 50 United States. Prior to joining Golf Vacation Insider, Craig was a freelance writer who contributed to GOLF Magazine, Travel + Leisure Golf, Maxim Magazine, USAToday.com, and co-authored Zagat Survey’s book, America’s Top Golf Courses.
23 Comments
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Scott Cowan, Cowan Golf

I rented a car from Europcar and put on my application that I wanted an automatic. They didn't have automatics in the car category I chose, so they upgraded me to a nice Mercedes because it was all they had.

Andre

A number of years ago my wife and I rented a full-size car (with trunk-through) at Palm Springs off-airport location while on a golf vacation. It seemed to be OK - we fit everything in no problem. A few days later we took it on the highway and heard loud thumping noise coming from the front. I stopped on the shoulder (at night) and found the scoop fairing on the front was hanging loosely. I tied it up and the noise went away. When we returned the car, the agent who inspected the car went directly to the driver side and pointed out a half-inch dent near the front of the roof. My wife and I both knew that there was no way we had caused this damage. It looked more like wear and tear.
End result: The rental company (Enterprise) charged me $300 on my credit card on the spot. Then they tried to get another $1000 to fix the damage. Then they had a collection agency come after me.
I refused to pay and 12 years later I still cannot rent from Enterprise in either the US or Canada because I have a bad note on their system.
It's their loss.

John

Avoid Dollar/Thrifty like the plague. I had the misfortune of having an accident which the police report clearly established was not my fault. I declined their coverage because mine through my credit card and personal coverage was more than adequate. Ultimately, the driver of the other vehicle was going to be responsible for all claim costs anyway. Dollar/Thrifty harassed me continuously for up front payment for months while the claims were being resolved until I got my attorney involved and they backed off. I used to rent from them all the time for business and personal travel but I will never rent from them again.

Alberto

For great rates try Autoslash.com, they search out the best rate for you. From the time you book the reservation until the time you rent your car Autoslash.com will monitor the rates at most of the rental car companies and when they find a lower rate they cancel the current reservation and book the lower rate. No extra fees and you can cancel at any time at no charge.
Example, in Jan 2014 I booked a trip for July 2014, the best rate I could find on various sites for 4 days was $225, I went to autoslash.com and found they also had a best rate of $225. I booked it. Over the course of the next 6 months I received several emails stating my rate had dropped, my rate ended up being $106 for the same 4 days.

Roddieboy

National Emerald Club can not be beat you rent at a mid size rate which it you check regularly Will be better than all other rates and when you arrive all you do is find a full size or better start it up drive up to the check out Window and drive off usually lest than five minutes. The longest part of the process is chosen the best car from the wide choice available. The first time I did this in could not believe how fast it was or the type of cars I could choose from. Other compnies would two to three times as much for the same vehicle

Jim P

In Myrtle Beach I rented from Sixt, a company I did not know beforehand, but they set us up with a large vehicle perfect for 4 guys and clubs. They did a great job. Hertz is terrible, it has scams set up in its services and fees, which I find anti-consumer, including the pre-paid gas option, as I learned in New Orleans. I'll never rent from Hertz again, and I recommend others avoid it, too.

James

Recent trip to England and Ssotland. Europcar $300 for two weeks in a Voxhaul station wagon with 40 plus miles to the gallon. No drop charge.

Dick T

One more big deal in car rentals for a golf trip is the ability to add alternate drivers for free. No one wants to be the designated driver the whole time! Unfortunately, it's not easy to find that out.

Pat M

Sorry guys, but I will NEVER RENT FROM BUDGET again!!!! Got totally screwed by the sales person. I specifically told him I wanted to waive any additional insurance. I checked and both my own auto insurance policy and my credit card give me plenty of coverage so I did not want any added insurance on my rental. The guy ignored me and added it in. You know what it's like at those counters... everyone in a hurry, trying to get a car and get on the road. I did not read the agreement carefully, signed it and ended up with additional charges of $200 +!!!!! I called Budget and complained... but like Frank N in the previous comment above, I signed it so I was stuck. They did give me some $ back when I complained, but no way would I ever rent from Budget again. Bad News all around.

B Trufen

Biggest rip off Budget Phoenix. Advertise rental with a car like..... and when you get
there the car is the smallest possible that can't hold clubs then it costs a small
fortune to upgrade. Good Scam.

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