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The 5 best car rental apps and services: Get cruising faster

What is the best car rental app? Enterprise is ZDNET's top choice for its exceptional service. We researched and compared features as well as compatibility, ratings, and cost to determine our No. 1 pick and other honorable mentions.
Written by Lena Borrelli, Contributing Writer
Enterprise | Best car rental service and app overall
Enterprise app review | Best car rental service
Enterprise
Best car rental service and app overall
View now View at Enterprise
Alamo | Best car rental service and app for unlimited mileage
Alamo app review | Best car rental service
Alamo
Best car rental service and app for unlimited mileage
View now View at Alamo
Budget | Best cheap car rental service and app
Budget app review | Best car rental service
Budget
Best cheap car rental service and app
View now View at Budget
Hertz | Best car rental service and app for airports
Hertz app review | Best car rental service
Hertz
Best car rental service and app for airports
View now View at Hertz
Turo | Best peer-to-peer car rental service and app
Turo app review | Best car rental service
Turo
Best peer-to-peer car rental service and app
View now View at Turo

When you need a rental car, you do not always have time to wait. Whether you are weary from travel or have a flight to catch, you likely do not have the time or inclination to wait in a long line for your car rental. 

That is where car rental apps help. They can allow you to make a reservation, check in early, and even choose your own rental vehicle. But not all apps are created the same, and you may quickly find that features can vary significantly from one service to the next.

Before you book your next rental car, consider these best car rental services for your trip. 

Specs

  • Developer: Enterprise Holdings, Inc.
  • Compatibility: Android, iPhone, iPod touch, Mac
  • App Store rating: 4.9
  • Google Play rating: 4.6

Enterprise is one of the best-known names in car rental services, and its app is no different. It works with more than 9,500 Enterprise locations worldwide to help you rent cars not just in the U.S. but also in Canada, Latin America, and Europe. You have a choice of cars ranging from economy to luxury so that you can set the right tone for your trip. Use the Enterprise car rental app to find a car, update reservations, find an Enterprise location, and even contact roadside assistance if you hit a snag on the road. 

The app will also help you earn special rewards that you can redeem. If you opt for the Enterprise ReadyPass, you can benefit from early check-in and expedited service when you are at the airport. Plus, Enterprise's Complete Clean Pledge ensures that your car arrives clean and sanitized, a pro especially appreciated these days. 

Pros:

  • High customer ratings
  • Built-in roadside assistance within the app
  • Exotic vehicles available

Cons:

  • Must pay for second drivers
  • Limited rewards

Specs

  • Developer: Enterprise Holdings, Inc.
  • Compatibility: Android, iPhone, iPod touch, Mac
  • App Store rating: 4.9
  • Google Play rating: 4.6

Alamo is the best car rental service and app for unlimited mileage because this special feature comes with its car rentals. To manage your reservation, there is Drive Happy® with Alamo Rent A Car, its own car rental app that helps you make and modify reservations. You can also find directions to your rental location and filter your search by available vehicles so you can be sure to find the one that you want. 

The app also helps you use the Accelerated Check-in feature to speed up the whole process, and if you sign up for an Alamo Insiders® account, you can benefit from even faster reservations with an extra 5% off base rates. If you need help, there is 24/7 customer service available. 

Pros:

  • Competitive pricing
  • Unlimited mileage
  • Easy return process

Cons:

  • Fees for young drivers
  • Limited locations

Specs

  • Developer: Avis Budget Group
  • Compatibility: Android, iPhone, iPod touch 
  • App Store rating: 3.5
  • Google Play rating: 4.0

Budget is another well-known name in the industry and our pick for the best cheap car rental service and app. Recently revamped, the app offers Fastbreak to both expedite and simplify the entire car rental process. Perks mean that you can skip the line, enjoy fast returns, and update your account. As a Fastbreak member, you can not only view upcoming reservations, but you can also view and rebook previous rentals for even faster booking. 

You can change your rental with the option to make, modify, and cancel your reservation around the clock. If you get lost, the app will help you navigate to your nearest Budget location, also providing hours of operation and phone numbers to get you on your way that much faster.  

Pros:

  • Affordable rates
  • Multiple locations
  • Prepay discounts

Cons:

  • Low app ratings
  • Additional fees apply

Specs

  • Developer: The Hertz Corporation
  • Compatibility:  Android, iPhone, iPod touch 
  • App Store rating: 4.8
  • Google Play rating: 4.2

Hertz is the best car rental service and app for airports. When we recently traveled to Boston, we found the Hertz app to be incredibly helpful. Even better, it made picking up a car a simple matter by eliminating the need for airport counters or tedious check-ins. The app allows you to make reservations, as well as modify them, without any need to visit a full website. 

In fact, the entire app is streamlined for faster mobile navigation so you can get what you need and keep going. There is information for all Hertz locations worldwide, plus Hertz Gold Plus Rewards® members can check their status and enjoy exclusive content. The one-touch log-in is an extra perk, allowing you to log in and get going that much faster.

Pros:

  • Fantastic rewards
  • AAA discounts
  • Free pick up and drop off

Cons:

  • Additional driver fees
  • Customer reviews complain of overcharges

Specs

  • Developer: Turo Inc.
  • Compatibility: Android, iPhone, iPod touch, Apple TV  
  • App Store rating: 4.8
  • Google Play rating: 4.9

Turo is a new addition to the best car rental services, offering an untraditional take on car rentals. It is more officially known as a peer-to-peer car sharing marketplace and is an app where vetted car owners can offer their own vehicles for rental. This allows you to choose from a variety of vehicles right in your surrounding area. This often means a far cheaper rate than you would find with traditional car rental services, with pricing starting at just $25 per day.

 The service is available in the U.S., as well as Canada and the UK, offering access to more than 600,000 vehicles and growing. As a final bonus, Turo offsets 100% of its estimated global carbon emissions so that you can feel good about your rental.

Pros:

  • Can be more affordable
  • No fuss 
  • Large selection

Cons:

  • Restricted availability
  • Must meet requirements

What is the best car rental service and app?

With spectacular customer service, Enterprise wins the award for best car rental service and app. It is versatile in its availability, offering service around the world with a user-friendly app based on customer service.

To understand how Enterprise stacks up against the competition, this is an overview of the best car rental services.

Best car rental service and app

App Store rating

Google Play rating

Enterprise

4.9

4.6

Alamo

4.9

4.8

Budget

3.5

4.0

Hertz

4.8

4.2

Turo

4.8

4.9

Which is the right car rental service and app for you?

To help you find the best car rental service and app for your needs, these are our expert recommendations.

Choose this car rental service and app...

If you...

Enterprise

Value quality customer service

Alamo

Want unlimited mileage and coverage for second drivers

Budget

Want discounts and deals

Hertz

Fly frequently and like a selection of cars

Turo

Prefer to rent directly from an owner

How did we choose these car rental services?

There are a number of factors we consider when selecting the best car rental services, including these.

  • Vehicles: A car rental service is all about the cars, after all, so it is important to ensure that your chosen service will provide the type of vehicle you need, whether it is an economy or luxury pick.
  • Compatibility: An app is of little use if you cannot access it, so we consider what kinds of systems will work with each app.
  • Fees: There are many fees that can apply to a car rental, such as fees for young or second drivers and drop-off or return fees. Be sure to check what fees may apply so that there are no surprises when you go to check out.
  • Convenience: Extra features like online check-ins, reservation changes, and even skipping the line when it comes time to manage your vehicle. 

Price is always a concern, as well, so be sure to carefully review the agreement to ensure that you understand all stipulations for rental.

How does a car rental service and app work?

When you need to rent a vehicle, you can use a car rental service and app to make and confirm your reservation. You simply sign up for an account and then follow the steps to make your reservation. 

If you cannot find a location near you, an app can often help with directions, as well as providing other detailed information like rental history and fee receipts with customer service available to help.

What car rental fees will I pay with a car rental service and app?

There are many types of additional fees that may be assessed to your account. These can include toll highways and roadways, as well as any parking tickets or violations you may incur. You may also be charged for an extra tank of gas if you return the vehicle without refueling first. Ask your car rental service or look within the app to find the best service for your needs.

How much does a car rental service and app cost?

The best car rental apps are free, but you will have to pay a car rental service for the rental of a vehicle. The cost of a car rental can vary significantly, depending on factors like the make, model, year, and mileage on the vehicle. 

Are there alternatives worth considering?

While searching for the best car rental services, we found several other options that may be worth your consideration.

Before you hit the road, be sure to check out our picks for the best travel tech gadgets, the best mobile tech, and the best travel credit cards to get you where you need to go!

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