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Car Rental Question - Big vs. Local

What are the pitfalls and/or benefits to renting a car from one of the "majors" in the business in the US versus renting locally in Greece? Travelling at end of February and have reservations with major carrier but considering switching to local company out of Athens airport to tour Peloponnese.

Thank you again in advance for all of your guidance.

Posted by
744 posts

I've done both.

The "majors" in Europe include not only the companies you would be familiar with in the US (Hertz, Avis) but also Europcar and Sixt which are ubiquitous in Europe. I usually rent from Europcar because it seems to have the most and most convenient outlets, and have always found it reasonably priced, efficient and reliable.

"Locals" can be hit or miss. Do your research. In Athens we used Swift/Avanti, and they were amazing. In Santorini we used a company that gave good service, but a car that barely held together.

Posted by
5777 posts

One thing to be aware of, it may vary some by company, but even the "big" places often are really local. Hertz specifically franchises the name and allows access to their system for vendors, but that is about it. If you have a problem, and call Hertz, they will just refer you to the local guy, and all problem resolution will be between you and them, not Hertz.

That said, there are conveniences with using a big company, especially if you use their app and have some level of status. With local places, you just need to do some looking, you are doing a major transaction with someone you know nothing about. Most of the time there will be no issues, but it is always that one time we hear about on discussion boards.

Posted by
964 posts

We have used ACR, Athens Car Rentals several times. They monitor flights and meet you at the arrivals door in the terminal. They walk you to the car which is parked outside arrivals. They do a walk around the car to identify existing scrapes and dents ( its a good idea to video the walk around). Rental price includes insurance coverage.

They give you a lesson and instructions on the vehicle and away you go. They do take a charge on your credit card for the deductible on the insurance and a charge for the rental. You return the car to departures level finish up the paperwork and away you go. Its certainly a different business model but they have an excellent reputation. We have used them for over a decade, with no problems.

Posted by
5393 posts

With the unbundling of fees, replacing a broken car isn't really "free" at the majors anymore. (It seems to me that it should be free.) But at least you know that they have some replacement cars available. Naturally, those cars may not physically be at the branch closest to your breakdown. Even in the US, there was a limit to how much help the big companies would offer for my last breakdown. Luckily the car could limp back in. No personal experience renting in Greece.

Posted by
198 posts

I rented from Sixt for several years, always seems to be a nicer Audi or BMW. Eventually prices increased and less value. I believe we drove an almost new Audi A-4 or A-3 throughout Greece.

As with many here have used AutoEurope the past few trips - almost always best pricing and insurance included.

We arrived on Santorini four years ago and the vendor had exactly ONE vehicle available - A largish panel van. Made for an interesting couple of days parking and driving. As I recall that was via SIXT at the time.

Posted by
42 posts

If you choose Swift/Avanti, a local company in Athens, they will drive you to the outskirts of Athens and then let you take over the steering wheel. This is a huge benefit considering the chaos of Athens traffic. The "big" companies don't provide this service,

Posted by
1704 posts

Well, I can’t give you a true comparison since I have only rented with Athens Car Rental, a local company. But the service and professionalism was great. So was the car - so I didn’t have the opportunity to try out service in time of emergency or trouble.

Posted by
2813 posts

Response re Swift -- that service (is it still offered?) of driving you safely to the out-of-town highway entry would be useful for persons leaving from a Central Athens hotel & (rightfully) fearful of Athens traffic. It wouldn't be needed for airport rentals ... most of us doing that, would drive immediately onto the intercity modern highway... and coming back, will drop the car at airport & take flat-fee taxi or car service to a central athens hotel. Also, have read some feedback by Swift agency users, who complained about older cars, repair incidents, etc. During this extended pandemic situation, all agencies have been stressed to provide good quality cars, so I'd be extra-cautious about those with supposedly smaller & older "fleets"l

Posted by
12 posts

In 2018, we used POPs and were very satisfied. Per RS's recommendation, we got full insurance coverage. Picked up in Athens and dropped off in Ermioni. One snag though, our GPS 12v power cord couldn't connect to the car. Didn't realized this until the battery died halfway to Delphi. Spent a couple of days navigating with a paper map before realizing we could save maps to our tablet and navigate from that.

Posted by
8 posts

I was in touch with Swift yesterday. They come highly recommended from Matt's Greece Travel blog. Their communication was prompt, thorough and yes, they still pick you up at your hotel and drive you to the outskirts of Athens so you don't need to navigate the big city traffic.