What’s the best website to use when you want to rent a car? The quick answer is that there’s no one best car rental booking site, but there are a bunch of great ones worth comparing prices on. And the best ones for you will depend on what exactly you’re looking for in a car rental.
As with so many other travel buys, like the best hotel booking sites and the best airfare booking sites, to find the very best car rental deals you’ll need to cast a wide net. Still, some places tend to do better than others, at least some of the time.
The Best Car Rental Booking Sites in the U.S. and Europe
Here’s a quick roundup of the candidates for best car rental booking sites, based on detailed car searches in both the U.S. and Europe. (Find more details below on the perks and downfalls of each.)
I tested base rental car rates by searching only for economy or compact cars, for a rental period of one week, and only for picking up and returning the car at the primary airports for a number of city destinations in both the U.S. and Europe. All quoted rates (except for opaque rates that hide car specifics until after you purchase their lower-priced deal) are fully cancellable, although some require an advance payment with the option of a refund given upon cancellation. Some vendors offer lower non-refundable rates. All rates include air-conditioning and all U.S. rates include automatic transmission; European rates are for manual since automatic comes at a premium there.
For the most part, the search-and-buy sequence is roughly the same for all car rental booking sites. No one rose out of the mix as especially easy or dropped as especially difficult. Therefore, my comparisons are based almost entirely on my ability to locate the best deals.