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Which car rental to go with?

Hi fellow travellers,
I will be renting a car near FRA to drive around Germany and France for 3 weeks. Would it be better to go with AutoEurope or strait to Hertz, or similar agency. I have CDW through American Express and I really want an affordable car with good milage. I am afraid with a consolidator there will be little control or choice. What do you think?

Posted by
9110 posts

This forum has a fixation on AutoEurope for some reason. AE will foist you off on somebody who will give you what they have available when you show up, just as they would if you didn't go through AE. It's not like anybody sticks your name on a particular car's windshield the day you make a reservation. The trick is not to take an upgrade (bigger car, worse mileage) without screaming for a price reduction as well so you can offset the gas price. If the outfit you use doesn't have what you reserved, walk over to the next counter and ask that outfit to match the price - - they always will. Use kayak.com (which will pick up AE if they're in the running). If there's just two of you, pick the cheapest car - - it will give you at least fifty miles per gallon - - making the cost differential (if any) for diesel inconsequential (a hundred miles a day for three weeks is two thousand miles or forty gallons - - maybe three hundred fifty bucks, total). The only place I wouldn't get a car from is Sixt. I've been unhappy with them a couple of times (other's might not have), so they don't get my consideration anymore. I'd assume you're not considering getting the car in Germany and dropping it in France - - that'll eat your pocketbook alive.

Posted by
5011 posts

Had a good experience with Sixt a couple weeks ago in Slovenia. Brand new Opel, immaculate car, hassle-free pickup and dropoff, no issues at all. Honestly, I think renting a car on the other side of the planet is always a bit of a crap shoot, no matter what company is involved. You're always dealing with a small, local operation, even if they have the logo of a big company. Be prepared to stand up for what you want/expect. FWIW we've had very good luck when our rentals were booked by gemut.com. Nice to know that if something goes funky when we arrive at the rental counter, we can just call Gemut and let them argue with Sixt, Avis, Autoeurope or whoever (I have never had to take advantage of this option, but it's comforting to know it's there).

Posted by
2828 posts

If you want a good mileage, get on thing, and one only, in mind: diesel car, diesel car, diesel car! If looking at mileage info on European sites, beware the measure here is inverted, as in liters-per-100-km meaning the less L/100km the more fuel efficient the car is.

Posted by
2916 posts

I've almost always used either Kemwel or Auto Europe in Farnce, and have never had any problem except when I was given a Lancia. Really a piece of crap with terrible mileage. Twice I've gotten a small Mercedes diesel with great mileage, and most of the rest of the times it's been a small French car. The few times I've even made an attempt to go directly to an agency I've nixed it for one or more reasons. I have my doubts that they'd be any better at giving me exactly what car I want. It's certainly never been that way when I've rented in the US.

Posted by
2779 posts

Do a price comparison: Check with AutoEurope, Gemut, Sunny Cars and Holiday Autos (those are the brokers) and then compare with the local brands Sixt.com, Europcar.com, Avis, Hertz, Terstappen, Budget and Advantage... Do not pick up at an airport or train station (they charge +19% service fee). Pick up from any downtown location... It doesn't matter where you drop off (within Germany) in most of the cases. Diesel is better than regular gas (for milage). Economy cars almost always come with stick only.

Posted by
1064 posts

What Ed said. Except, I would not rule out Sixt, since they seem to have a good reputation overall. But they will probably lose out anyway if you do a price comparison on kayak or elsewhere. One I do rule out in any search is Thrifty; I have seen more complaints on message boards and google searches about them, relative to their size, than any other company. Yet, even there, I am sure there are many more people who have rented without a problem than otherwise.

Posted by
1767 posts

I have priced out Hertz, National and Auto Europe (Hertz and National are agencies I have "status' with so...) For me the pricing has often come back better with AutoEurope, but you outlook may vary. Either way there's nto going to be a lot of choice and if you need an automatic it's going to be costly. But the cars I have gotten with AutoEurope were all from major brands and were just fine. I really can't say there was a difference between the Auto Europe and the Hertz I booked directly for example. I don't use Amex's CDW since with my card it's secondary to my primary insurance meaning I have to file a claim first with them (some cards have different coverages so check. I have a Delta Reserve) I have primary with another card so I do use that. (Except in Italy where I just gave up and paid the insurance cost LOL!)

Posted by
2916 posts

One comment about renting at an airport or train station. The fee is not as high as suggested elsewhere. Also, if you're flying in and then getting a car right away, it doesn't make much sense to head into the city just to avoid the airport fee.

Posted by
7513 posts

AutoEurope is a broker for National/Citer.

Posted by
1064 posts

Since you don't mention departure, I presume you are leaving from Frankfurt or another airport in Germany. If you compare prices on Kayak or directly from any of the competing companies, get prices on the airport rental and again on sites away from the airport. For a three-day rental, the difference would not normally be enough to compensate for the trouble and expense of getting to the alternate site, not to mention the usually better selection and convenience at the airport. For a three-week rental, it will probably be worth the extra trouble. But compare prices, anyway.

Posted by
342 posts

I would STRONGLY suggest you look at Trip Advisor about the horror stories about Terstappen. I am not saying all stories are true - I have no way of knowing, obviously. BUT, the stories from multiple posters are so similar, I tend to think this company should be avoided. Make sure if you get a quote from Thrifty or Dollar, that they aren't using Terstappen.

Posted by
11798 posts

I did use AutoEurope last time, but not before shopping lots of other options. Which one should you use? Whichever is the best deal. There isn't one company or site that will always offer the best deal on all cars in all areas. Shop around before you commit. There is one great deal I'd suggest. American Express offers a CDW insurance option on some of their cards (I used a Costco American Express card). For a single $25 charge, you get full CDW on a rental up to 40 days. Check out the details to make sure it works for you (I think WA has a 30 day limit on the rental and possibly other restrictions). On the rental with AutoEurope, the $25 wasn't automatically added to my account - like it would have been if I had rented through Hertz (as an example). I had to call and get them to charge me manually so I was sure I was covered.

Posted by
2916 posts

I'm surprised Auto Europe is mentioned so often but no one mentions Kemwel (except me). They're under the same ownership as Auto Europe, but they have a separate web site, and the prices are often lower than Auto Europe. They probably use different car companies. Someone said AE brokers for National/Citer; I know I've wound up with Europcar most times, maybe because I've often used Kemwel. My experiences with both of them have been fine.