Looking for the best car rental company? You’ve come to the right place. J.D. Power—which also ranks airlines, airports, hotels and more—has just unveiled the 2023 North America Rental Car Satisfaction Study. This annual study ranks the best rental car companies and evaluates customer satisfaction.
After a post-pandemic period that has tested the resilience of North American car rental companies—inventory shortages, soaring rates, staffing challenges—the report delivers promising news. Overall customer satisfaction has surged by 14 points on a 1,000-point scale in 2023 compared to the previous year. The industry’s satisfaction score now stands at 843, a significant improvement from 829 in 2022.
This remarkable turnaround can be attributed to several factors, including stabilized pricing, increased vehicle availability, and enhanced staffing.
“J.D. Power expected a recovery of sorts, with the greater availability of rental cars and staffing at airport rental locations. One surprise was the improvements seen in every factor. We would normally see increases in some factors and decreases in others. It was a good recovery by the industry,” Michael Taylor, managing director of travel, hospitality and retail at J.D. Power told me in an interview.
The results are based on responses from 8,632 business and leisure travelers who rented a car at airport locations over the past year.
What led to the stabilization of prices? “Supply and demand,” says Taylor. “Fleets have been replenished (for the most part), more new cars are being shipped and demand has leveled off. All those factors lead to more stable prices.” Furthermore, the customer experience has improved significantly, with notably reduced wait times for car pick-ups. Taylor attributes this to the availability of a greater number of cars on the rental lots and slightly improved staffing levels at airport rental car locations.
So what is the best car rental company in America? Enterprise has emerged as the leader in overall customer satisfaction for the third consecutive year, securing an impressive score of 866. What sets Enterprise apart? “The Enterprise brand goes against the operating norm and has more one-on-one interaction with rental car personnel,” says Taylor. “Although we wouldn’t advise other car rental companies to use the ‘walk around’ with a car rental rep and the renter, Enterprise makes it work for them. They can proactively solve problems or issues a renter might have.”
The next three companies on the list—National, Alamo, and Hertz—have also outperformed the industry average. National, with a score of 865, ranks second, followed by Alamo (862 points) in third place and Hertz (845 points) in fourth place. “National continues to excel in the Pick-Up Process and the Rental Car experience, with business renters favoring the self-selection of vehicles,” says Taylor. “Alamo earns the top spot in the Return Process category. Herts has improved across the board, particularly in the Cost and Fees category.”
On the other end of the spectrum, Thrifty finds itself at the bottom of the rankings once again. “Although Thrifty improved quite a bit from a year ago, it wasn’t enough to bring the brand off the bottom of the ranking. Thrifty renters expect a low price, and it’s been tough to meet that expectation coming out of Covid,” says Taylor.
Despite the promising consumer satisfaction results, uncertainties loom on the horizon. The outcome of the United Auto Workers (UAW) strike remains uncertain, potentially threatening rental car vehicle supply. “Given the tight correlation we see between vehicle availability, price and customer satisfaction, it’s going to be important to keep an eye on the UAW strike as a potential supply chain issue that could negatively affect customer satisfaction during the course of the next year, says Taylor.
Read on to see the ranking of the best car rental companies in America; you can also get more details on the J.D. Power survey here.
Ranked: The Best Car Rental Companies in America
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