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Take the Guesswork Out of Renting a Car

Find out who has the quickest process, the coolest cars and the most reliable service so you can enjoy your drive for less.

Do you view a rental car as a business trip tool or a necessary vacation expense? You can change your tune when you change your scenery by making your rental car one of the most pleasurable features of your trip.

For example, if you ever feel like ripping up the road in a muscle car, call NEA rental car partner Hertz and ask for a 430-horsepower Corvette Convertible in its “Adrenaline Collection”—and the pleasure will be all yours.

“People can get out of their comfort zone and have some fun with it,” says Hertz marketing rep Jillian Maisano, who notes that Hertz has a wide selection of vehicles at various price points.

NEA Member Benefits partners with five outstanding rental car companies that offer great deals at all price points for NEA members. Each provider focuses on different aspects of travel to help you meet your needs:

  • Hertz and National are best known as airport rental agencies.
  • Enterprise Rent-A-Car is widely perceived as the neighborhood brand, offering full service at relatively low cost.
  • Alamo is more value-oriented and focused on leisure driving.
  • Dollar is a no-frills option with good deals.

A closer look at all four companies

Hertz focuses on putting the fun in driving, providing a wide selection of vehicles at affordable prices. In addition to its “Adrenaline Collection,” the company also has a category of “Dream Cars.” If you think that Corvette would be fun to drive, you’ll want to splurge on a Porsche some day! Other collections include “Prestige,” featuring high-end makes like Mercedes and Cadillac, and “Green Traveler,” with a line of hybrid, electric and clean diesel vehicles that offer high fuel efficiency.

“Hertz is continuing to redefine the premium car rental experience, offering a truly unique selection of the finest vehicles on the planet,” says Anna Bootenhoff, manager of corporate communications at Hertz headquarters in Tulsa, Okla.

National is a premium, internationally recognized brand oriented primarily to the frequent airport traveler who prefers efficiency on personal and business trips. The company pioneered a frequent renter program for corporate accounts as well as the “Emerald Aisle,” which allows members to go directly to a car of their choice without stopping at the rental counter for paperwork.

National came in a close second in the latest J.D. Power rating in customer satisfaction with airport rentals, down from its first-place finish the previous year and just behind Enterprise, which belongs to the same parent company. Enterprise edged out National with a score of 805 (on a 1,000-point scale) over 797 in a survey that rated six factors: cost and fees; pick-up process; return process; rental car; shuttle bus/van; and reservation process.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car, which edged into first place in the 2014 J.D. Power customer satisfaction survey, has more than 5,500 offices located within 15 miles of 90 percent of the U.S. population. The company offers car leasing, vanpooling, car sharing and hourly rental programs as well as typical car rentals.

Local customers are picked up at no extra cost. That’s helpful if you need a rental car when your vehicle is in the auto repair shop. A local rental also can be great for weekend getaways and special occasions.

For people who rely on mass transit during the week and don’t want—or can’t afford—the cost of buying and maintaining a car, a local rental can fill the gap whenever you do need a car to get somewhere.

Enterprise also ranked highly in the Zagat survey.

Alamo was the third-place finisher in the J.D. Power survey, tied with Hertz at 776. Its primary appeal is to leisure travelers who are renting a car on their own dime and want a hassle-free rental experience at their vacation destination.

Dollar is the newest addition to the NEA partner offerings. It offers fewer options on models and features than some of the other companies, but can often come up with the lowest price.

Your decision when choosing among these five companies depends in part on whether price or service is your top priority, because there can be a trade-off between the two.

In fact, the 2014 J.D. Power survey found that overall satisfaction is lowest among customers who select based on price. Overall satisfaction among the 19 percent of customers who say they are “price buyers”—they select their rental car brand primarily for a lower price—was 740, compared with 844 among those who choose their brand based on features and benefits. So it truly is a question of getting what you pay for.

If you put the priority on price, you may be accustomed to going to Priceline or another aggregator to get the best deal available at any given moment. However, as an NEA member, you can take advantage of the member discounts offered through partnership with these companies, typically resulting in a better price than going with an aggregator.

Plus, your NEA membership means you’ll get great customer service. “We’re committed to providing the highest levels of service and value to NEA members at our 6,000 locations across the country,” says Steve Short, vice president of leisure business development for Enterprise, National and Alamo.

Company executives also point out that it can be advantageous to be dealing directly with the company if you have an issue or complaint.

This article was published in NEAchieve!, our monthly e-newsletter. Sign up to receive helpful tips and information delivered to your email inbox.

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