Avis Car Rental Review – The OG in the Car Rental Biz

When it comes to renting a set of wheels for your next road trip or vacation, you’ve probably heard of Avis. As one of the pioneers in the car rental industry, Avis has been around since the 1940s. That’s right – even your grandparents might have rented an Avis back in the day!

With over 70 years of experience under their belt, Avis has fine-tuned their rental process and has a fleet of over 5,500 locations worldwide. Suffice it to say, they know a thing or two about providing reliable rental cars to customers.

As the needs of travelers have evolved, so has Avis by expanding vehicle offerings and tech features. Nowadays you can easily make, modify or cancel reservations online or via their app and choose add-ons like GPS or child safety seats.

However, with stiff competition from relative newcomers like Hertz and Enterprise, you’re probably wondering…is Avis still a worthwhile option for my next rental car?

Well, buckle up, amigos! In this Avis rental car review guide, I’ll take you through my own experiences renting from them multiple times over the past two years. Here’s the full lowdown on pricing, vehicle condition, customer service and more to help YOU decide if Avis is the one for your rental needs.

Avis Pricing and Costs

Renting a set of wheels usually takes up a good chunk of any travel budget. So naturally pricing should be a major factor to weigh when considering a car rental company.

During peak seasons like summer, car rental rates industry-wide tend to surge due to heightened demand. As one of the most recognized names in the game, Avis has more leeway to command higher rates than niche rental companies.

That said – don’t expect Avis to have the cheapest base rates year-round compared to rivals like Hertz, Enterprise or even newer ones like Turo.

Throughout my experience renting compact cars and 7-seater minivans from Avis for weekend trips and full 1-week vacations, I found their daily rates can be marked up 10-40% higher than competitors. Ouch!

But here’s the kicker – Avis offers loyalty program members and repeat customers more leeway with unpublished promotional rates and targeted discounts. By signing up for their free Avis Preferred program, I now get periodic emails offering 5-15% off rentals which helps narrow the price gap.

Moral of the story: Loyalty DOES pay when renting from Avis!

Amazing Addition: Families can save a ton renting 7-seater minivans which cost barely $20 more per day versus compact cars – perfect for piling in the whole crew together for a full day of sightseeing!


Vehicle Selection and Conditions

If affordable pricing is a priority for renters, then good-condition vehicles are a must to ensure a smooth and pleasant road trip. No one wants to end up being the storyteller of that ill-fated car rental with worn tyres and squeaky brakes!

During all 10 rentals over the past two years, I’ve only booked compact cars and minivans from Avis and found their fleet to be universally clean and newish models, typically 1-3 years old.

Some things I check upon pickup and have consistently found in good order:

  • The tire tread looks appropriate, not bald
  • No weird lingering odors inside the cabin
  • No prior damage or paint scratches on the exterior
  • Low mileage of 30k miles or less

Inside all vehicles, basics like AC, radio and charging ports worked flawlessly throughout my rentals. And I felt confident driving Avis cars on everything from winding coastal roads in California to lengthy 600+ mile interstate drives.

The minivans also came with handy add-ons pre-installed like integrated DVD players and sun shades which kept my kids mighty happy. We even ended up buying the same Chrysler Pacifica model after our stellar Avis rental experience!

For frequent travelers, sign up for Avis Preferred to access elite tiers offering vehicle upgrades and tech features like GPS and satellite radio to enhance travel.

Smooth Reservations and Pickup Process

Let’s face it – any snafus during rental reservations or vehicle pickup can derail an exciting vacation right from the get-go.

Thankfully over 10 rentals from Avis, I’ve had consistently seamless experiences reserving cars online and speedy pickups at both airport and neighborhood branches in under 10 minutes.

A few things that helped streamline the preparations and rental process:

  • Booking directly on the Avis site using promotion codes as an Avis Preferred member
  • Opting for early check-in during online reservations to avoid waiting for cars
  • Using the Avis app to modify reservations on the fly
  • Checking rental rates across multiple branches, often neighbourhood outlets had better SUV availability

Digitally check in via the Avis app when arriving at the branch location

With Avis’ size and legacy in the game, their fleet management and checkout processes are impressively efficient. During each rental experience, staff members have been professional and knowledgeable able to answer questions or upsell extra coverage or features.

If reserving a specialty vehicle like a passenger van or luxury car, would recommend calling branches directly after booking online to double confirm vehicle availability. Learned this the one time a branch couldn’t provide a minivan and we scored a free SUV upgrade for the hassle!

Insurance, Protection Plans and Fees

Before driving off into the sunset on your rental ride, it helps to understand various fees and protection options offered by car companies in case issues arise mid-trip.

As a legacy car rental player, Avis presents all options including insurance, fuel, tolls, etc in a clear and upfront manner online and during checkout. Customers can simply decline any unnecessary add-ons to avoid surprise charges. If you booked through a portal like Priceline, policies may differ so double-check!

Two things savvy renters should consider:

Loss Damage Waiver (LDW)

While your car insurance may cover a rental, there could still be gaps leaving you financially vulnerable. For peace of mind on trips with expensive rental SUVs or visiting places with rough mountain roads, LDW helps lower liability. At around $15-25 per day, LDW is pretty affordable as backup protection.

Also, check CDW insurance

Refuel Service

While Avis doesn’t impose mandatory refuel charges, they WILL ding your wallet big time if rentals aren’t topped off before returning. Rates I’ve seen can be $15 PER GALLON which adds up quickly!

Instead, opt for their refuel service so cars can be returned worry-free at any tank level. Sure you pay slightly marked-up per-gallon rates but I still saved nearly 50% over returning with a half-filled tank. And time = money when scrambling to hit flights or activities!

The only sneaky charge I incurred (and contested successfully) was an extra day charge when I returned an SUV to the Manhattan branch just 2 hours past the original rental end time. So be very mindful of return times stated on contracts!

With refuel and LDW protections, I’ve thankfully avoided any unfair Gotcha charges from Avis through all my rentals.

Stellar Customer Service Recovery

At the end of the day, heavy usage puts major wear and tear on rental fleets. Even reliable companies like Avis can fumble at times in maintaining or communicating policies with customers.

Through two past incidences with Avis rentals, I did require roadside assistance and later on-site help with unexpected charges.

During both cases, Avis team members responded promptly and resolved issues in under 30 minutes with no financial impacts through credits and waived bogus fees. Their stellar service recovery highlighted Avis’ commitment to keeping loyal customers happy.

While rental costs may edge higher than some rivals, you certainly pay for Avis’ polished operations and helpful staff who can tackle trip interruptions smoothly. As the saying goes “You get what you pay for” – for certain travelers, service matters as much as savings!

The Bottom Line on Avis Car Rentals

Considering their 80+ years of rental experience combined with large vehicle fleets and a global branch network, Avis remains a leading choice for many travellers.

Yes, sticker prices can skew higher than thrifty rivals, but loyal Avis members can unlock plenty of discounts year-round. And you’re paying for quality newer model vehicles, premium service and helpful staff able to sort out issues should they arise.

For vacationers prioritizing convenience, family-friendly features or luxury rides, and budget flexibility – Avis deserves a spot on your rental consideration list.

Through dozens of rentals over decades, my family considers Avis a trusty option for smooth end-to-end car rental experiences. Hopefully, this detailed review guide gave YOU ample insider intel to decide if Avis is the right rental choice for upcoming adventures on the open road!