A question I am often asked is for a recommendation for a car hire company. I reply by asking how much the person would pay for a guaranteed car hire company at your destination airport. A fact is that car hire companies are considerably more expensive than the brokers that often represent them under their own brand. Car hire brokers do not own any cars at all, their inventory is made up of multiple car hire companies in destinations world-wide.
They have no inclination towards a single supplier but can push volume towards a certain set of net rates to fulfill a promise of numbers or to promote a special offer given by a supplier. The mark up on their net rates will vary depending on their preferences in terms of the supplier they are sending volume to, but the fact remains they are completely focused on price in a very sensitive marketplace.
Review websites are always biased towards negative feedback with the only positive remarks mostly being from the company in question posing as a customer. Let’s face the facts though, if you had a satisfactory time you wouldn’t go out and find a review website to note the fact. Only people wishing to warn others or just vent their fury tend to use review websites. The opposite is true for testimonials found on many car hire websites, trust me the brokers and suppliers get both bad and good reviews but you can guess which ones make it onto the testimonials page of their websites.
Past experience is invaluable but using a broker you could end up with supplier A on your first trip and then supplier B on your next booking without knowing it until the car hire voucher arrives. If you are using a broker and had a good experience with a car hire company last time, learn to read the terms and conditions. Facts such as the CDW / Theft amounts, extra driver charges etc are unique to the supplier behind the rate, if you can figure out the supplier you had last time you can save money instead of having to book direct at a higher rate.
One of the major gripes of car hire is the queuing and waiting for the car hire desk and car but a bit of know how can save time in this aspect. For example at a Ryanair destination such as Carcassonne in France, as Hertz is the partner of the major airline serving the airport you can expect a lot of people trying to get to the desk while the Europcar or ADA desk next door will be much less busy. Using a broker or comparison engine when going to a popular airport destination. If there is a lead in car in your chosen class at a low price, go for the car slightly more expensive but similar as it will most probably belong to a different car hire company (again check the terms and conditions). The slight more expense will be worth it when you see the queue for the lead in price’s car hire desk at the airport.
If you do have your heart set on a single supplier and no one else then you will have to book with them direct. Look out for special offers and even check the sites of their partners to see if there is any price difference. Currently there are sales in place with suppliers such as Europcar which lends weight to my golden rule, book early! Booking early with brokers or suppliers gets you the car you want and normally discounts are given for cars booked earlier.