Renting a car can be an essential part of travel plans, whether flying into a new city for business or taking a road trip adventure across the country. With so many options out there, choosing the right car rental company is key.
Two of the most well-known brands in the space are Avis and National, but they have key differences travelers should consider.
This comprehensive comparison looks at the pros, cons, and key features of both Avis and National Car Rental to help you decide which is a better fit for your next rental.
Reputation and Customer Service
When it comes to reputation, both Avis and National fare well but for slightly different reasons. Avis is known for having reliable vehicles and quality customer service.
According to 2021 consumer survey data, Avis ranks higher for overall customer satisfaction compared to National. Reviews often praise Avis’ customer service in particular for responsiveness and flexibility with reservations or other issues.
National, on the other hand, is known for offering loyalty perks and car upgrade deals to frequent customers through its Emerald Club program. So for regular business travelers who rent cars often, National tends to be a popular choice.
Overall, National also gets positive reviews for its streamlined rental process. So both deliver good service, but Avis may appeal more to casual or first-time renters while National rewards loyalty.
Vehicle Inventory and Options
Both rental companies offer a range of vehicle classes from economy cars to luxury vehicles. National does tend to have a wider selection of premium vehicles available, especially at airport locations. So for travelers looking to rent something like a BMW, Mercedes, or Convertible on vacation, National is more likely to have those models in stock.
Avis fleet options still include many mid-size and full-size sedans as well as SUVs and minivans for families. One advantage with Avis is that their affordable Economy or Compact car rentals might be newer models with better gas mileage, so it’s worth comparing options.
No matter what though, renters can feel comfortable with either company that they’ll get a safe, road-ready vehicle.
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Pricing and Fees
At first glance, base rental rates can appear cheaper at National than at Avis on average. However, National tends to add more additional fees during checkout compared to Avis.
These fees can include early or late return charges, airport surcharges, GPS rentals, etc. Renters need to read the fine print closely to determine total costs.
One way Avis provides more price transparency is that taxes and mandatory surcharges are included upfront in estimates.
So the total during checkout is less likely to jump up with surprises. Both companies offer ways to find promotional pricing though, like weekend deals, coupon codes and partnerships with travel companies or airlines.
Overall costs can vary quite a bit depending on the vehicle, location, length of rental and other factors so shoppers should compare carefully.
Insurance and Protection Plans
The collision insurance/damage waiver options differ as well between the two brands. National includes basic Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) insurance in US rentals while Avis does not. Renters need to opt into CDW/LDW plans for an added daily fee.
However, many major credit cards include some level of rental coverage already as a benefit. Renters should check their card policies first before paying for duplicative insurance.
For additional protection beyond basic CDW, National offers a protection “upgrade” product while Avis uses a standalone insurance provider to sell common add-ons like Personal Accident Insurance or personal effects coverage.
Review what each provides at the counter or through the call center before deciding if extra coverage is right for your trip. State laws regulating these plans vary quite a bit.
Discounts, Rewards and Status Programs
Both National and Avis offer loyalty programs for members to earn free rental days, airport lounge access, dedicated reservation lines and additional perks.
National’s Emerald Club has several tiered elite status levels to unlock additional benefits. Renters automatically qualify after completing a set number of rentals or spending a certain amount each year.
Avis Preferred members earn points redeemable for rental days and upgrades. Unlike National though, joining Avis Preferred is free.
Linking your Avis account to a hotel or airline rewards program like United MileagePlus can help maximize points-earning potential too across brands. Comparing loyalty benefits side by side for occasional versus frequent renters can determine which will provide more lasting value.
Airport and Neighborhood Locations
No matter if flying into Los Angeles (LAX) or Houston Airport on a business venture or embarking on a California coastal road trip adventure for vacation through National Rent a Car, you’ll likely find Avis and National rental counters alongside each other at most major airports.
Availability at smaller regional airports or certain destination travel spots can vary, but both brands have broad nationwide airport coverage overall.
Where National excels beyond Avis is offering neighbourhood rental pickup and dropoff options in larger metro areas. Travelers can coordinate non-airport rentals with National through certain hotel chains or local rental lots in city centers.
This provides significant convenience for one-way rentals when sightseeing. That flexibility isn’t consistently available through Avis unless arranging a chauffeured car service which comes at a premium cost.
The Verdict: Avis vs National Which is the Better?
When considering the reputation, service, vehicles, pricing and rewards programs between these two rental giants, Avis tends to come out slightly ahead for most casual vacation travelers.
Their base rates tend to be more straightforward plus they have an edge delivering on customer service. Joining their Preferred loyalty program is simple and provides genuine value earning free rentals and airline miles.
Frequent business travelers who rent cars most weeks out of the year gain more benefits long-term through National Car Rental’s Emerald Club though. Unlocking elite status provides upgrades, waived fees and lounge passes during every rental.
Their wider selection of luxury makes and non-airport locations in big cities also appeal to some business client’s preferences when convenience is crucial.
Most importantly – the best rental company for your needs depends on the details of your specific trip. Comparing location availability, insurance needs, vehicle features and pricing in advance for when and where you are traveling makes selecting between National, Avis and other providers much easier.