Is National Car Rental Always This Awesome?!?

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Several weeks ago I wrote a post about how I find renting cars to be so frustrating, and also shared my concerns about an upcoming car rental in Hawaii, given all the reports of car rental agencies in Hawaii running out of cars.

For once it’s time for me to write about a positive car rental experience. I’m not sure if I just got lucky, if National is actually usually this awesome, or if my expectations are just way too low (I suppose those things aren’t mutually exclusive).

Why I was worried about our Maui car rental

There have been widespread reports of car rental agencies running out of cars and not honoring confirmed reservations. During the pandemic car rental agencies sold many of their cars to raise cash. Now that people are traveling again on a widespread basis (at least in the United States), there have been lots of disappointed car rental customers.

I’m on a special trip to Hawaii with my family, and had reserved a large SUV for us. Based on the reports I had seen, what were my concerns?

  • I worried if the car rental company would have any cars at all, given reports of car rental companies not honoring reservations
  • Even if they did have cars, I worried if they’d have the type of car we reserved; I was fully expecting to have to strap our luggage to the roof of the car
  • Even if they did have our type of car, I worried if there would be a really long line to get it, given reports of waits of several hours at car rental companies

My awesome Maui car rental experience with National

Many readers have shared positive experiences with National Car Rental, particular with National’s Emerald Aisle, which Emerald Club Executive members have access to (you can get this status just by having a premium credit card).

I figured I’d give National Car Rental a try (originally I reserved with Sixt, but changed my reservation). I reserved a large SUV for under $100 per day (obviously that’s not cheap in absolute terms, but for Hawaii it was a bargain), and I finally registered for National Emerald Club Executive status, so that I could skip the counter.

When I arrived at National Car Rental at Kahului Airport (OGG) in Maui, I headed to the car rental center. There was a sign telling Executive members to head straight to the lower level. A friendly agent asked for my name, checked my name off a list, and walked me over to the area with SUVs.

“Pick any car you want, and then just drive up to the exit and present your ID and credit card.” I had my choice of an endless selection of Chevrolet Suburbans, and the whole experience was kind of fun. I went up to several to see which had the fewest miles and was in the best condition, and then drove off with one.

I didn’t have to sign a dozen pages of contracts, I wasn’t endlessly upsold, and I didn’t have to spend 10 minutes marking all the damage on the car. As a matter of fact, there were no signatures or paperwork required.

It was less than five minutes from the time I arrived at the car rental center to when I was driving off. I had left my family in the terminal area and warned them that it could be a while and that I might show up hours later in a U-Haul. Suffice to say that they were shocked when they saw me less than 15 minutes from when I initially left the terminal.

Perhaps my praise for this rental experience is just a reflection of how low my expectations of car rental companies are. I got the car that I reserved and didn’t have to wait for a very long time. That shouldn’t be worthy of praise, but sadly I don’t remember the last time I had such an easy car rental experience.

Bottom line

With all the negative reports of car rental experiences in Hawaii, I figure it’s worth sharing my awesome experience. I was grateful to not only get the car that I reserved, but to have the entire experience be so seamless.

Is National Car Rental always this awesome, or did I just get lucky? If this is how renting cars with National usually is, then I’d totally pay a premium to rent with the company over a competitor in the future.

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  1. Jerry

    Yes. It's always this awesome. Welcome aboard. I love National.

  2. OCTinPHL

    National is usually this terrific. It is often more expensive than competitors, particular Hertz, for one-day rentals, etc. It has a smaller fleet and charges more in many locations. It's Emerald Aisle offerings in many locations is usually superior to Hertz's Gold choices. One major drawback particularly at places like LAX - you rarely wait more than a few minutes for a bus (for offsite lots). National is often a longer wait.

  3. James S

    " and I didn’t have to spend 10 minutes marking all the damage on the car. "

    Eh, you should still take a very close look at the car, it's on you to have the gate agent mark anything on the paperwork. If you dont do this, they could charge you. I also take photographs for my own records.

    Enjoy your trip

    1. Ben

      @ James S -- Oh, I did, but the car was in great condition. Like I said, I partly chose the car that was in the best condition (and had fewest miles). Sometimes other car rental companies assign you cars that are in terrible condition, and you have no other choice.

  4. Ben

    No, it’s just that awesome. I had to re-read this to make sure you were not joking. In all these years you’ve never used National’s Choose Your Own?

  5. Ande777emt

    One of many reasons I stick with them. They're quick and don't bother with any upsells if it's in your profile that you decline them.

    My local station is also solid about netting me upgrades.

  6. David W

    I had the same experience with Hertz at DFW. There's a big screen with people's last name and first initial, with an area of the parking lot of your options. Pick a car, and drive off. My credit card was confirmed at the exit, along with an ID check and a scan of the car's barcode.

    Most recently the "issue" at Hertz DFW was that the lot was basically empty so I thought there'd be no car, but they directed me to a different section of the garage to pick a car.

  7. Nate

    They were my go to... until they allowed someone to charge my credit card from just giving them a loyalty account number... twice. After that I closed my account and have refused to use them. I hate having to take that position because they were really good, but charging me for other people's rentals is not acceptable.

  8. Slumdog Broke

    Yep. National is always like this. I've never had anything but an amazing experience. Fast and easy. Can't beat fast and easy.

  9. MH

    It’s always National > Hertz > Avis for me. And I rent weekly so top tier status with all. They do tend to be more expensive but for short 1/2 day rentals, Executive Elite is hard to beat (1 free day after 5 rentals) and often worth the premium.

  10. Chris

    Can't believe you never rented from National! It's my longtime favorite along with Silvercar, which is sadly not what it once was.

  11. ChrisCan

    Hertz Ultimate Choice still exists and you can select the car you want. The selection is reduced from Pre-COVID days, but still plenty from which to choose.

  12. Adam

    Yes, I love them too. It's either Sixt or National for me, all the time. I always try both the Amex rate and the regular rate, because sometimes the regular one is cheaper.

  13. RCB

    This is how it always is, you just pick a car and go, it truly is amazing.

  14. Sean

    Not an outlier. Switched from Hertz 6 years ago and have been endlessly pleased by National.

  15. Joshua

    I’ve had similar experiences with both national and hertz. Both allow me to just walk up, pick a vehicle, and go. When I reserve a specific type (SUV) I get a space number with the assigned vehicle in it. Walk up, get in car, drive off.

    I do perform a walk around with the video camera in my phone, just to be sure, but I’ve never had any issues.

    So I’ll go with either hertz or national, whichever costs less.

  16. Enguy

    National is good in general, but the Maui location is amazing. Last time I was there I had a flat tire in the parking lot of our lunch restaurant, and they had a tow truck with a replacement car there before I finished eating.

  17. Andrew

    National is this great. Been renting from them a long time, as the rates are fair (perhaps not the cheapest, but never outrageous) and the Executive Selection is awesome. Last year during COVID, the wife and I escaped to Colorado for a trip in September. Paid for an intermediate to get us access to the Executive Selection. Left with a brand new Range Rover Sport for the week, and it was glorious. Never have had...

    National is this great. Been renting from them a long time, as the rates are fair (perhaps not the cheapest, but never outrageous) and the Executive Selection is awesome. Last year during COVID, the wife and I escaped to Colorado for a trip in September. Paid for an intermediate to get us access to the Executive Selection. Left with a brand new Range Rover Sport for the week, and it was glorious. Never have had any issues with dings/scratches/returns. Always prefer them.

  18. Ole

    Ben, would like to read an article on rental car loyalty programs.

  19. JB

    I get the same experience with Hertz every time. The Platinum Card gets you Gold status and I book the rate which let's me drive off in any available car in that section. I just choose a car and they take my ID at the exit.

    I've rented a bit with them during the pandemic. The only two issues I ran into was that I was under the assumption that any car class I...

    I get the same experience with Hertz every time. The Platinum Card gets you Gold status and I book the rate which let's me drive off in any available car in that section. I just choose a car and they take my ID at the exit.

    I've rented a bit with them during the pandemic. The only two issues I ran into was that I was under the assumption that any car class I book with Hertz gets me access to the Gold lot, but I found out the hard way in Miami that it wasn't true.

    I also have earned status with Avis for quite a few years now and I've always had a great experience with them as well. Hertz is just sometimes cheaper in my experience.

  20. UAPremierGuy

    Yep. Welcome to the life-changing experience that is National. Hard to believe that Enterprise, with the endless parade of upselling is of the same chain. Executive status with National is one of the best perks of the Amex Platinum, by far.

  21. Shawn McPhie

    National is definitely my go to for rental cars. Quick note Ben, direct access to the Emerald Isle is available even for the entry level status National offers for free by signing up!

  22. Jack

    This is the experience I have all the time at Avis. Seems like a standard car rental experience.

  23. Gino

    National has always been this good for me as well! Luckily my company has very good negotiated rates with them and Avis, although our Avis rates are always a good bit lower that I have to decide whether the upcharge is worth it. Normally, I just say if there’s an exec aisle at the airport, I’ll pay for National, otherwise I just do Avis and take my chances with their app vehicle selector. Have gotten...

    National has always been this good for me as well! Luckily my company has very good negotiated rates with them and Avis, although our Avis rates are always a good bit lower that I have to decide whether the upcharge is worth it. Normally, I just say if there’s an exec aisle at the airport, I’ll pay for National, otherwise I just do Avis and take my chances with their app vehicle selector. Have gotten good upgraded vehicles at both exec aisle locations and standard locations with National however.

  24. Airfarer

    Will National recognize an Enterprise status? I've been Platinum with Enterprise for years but have been having a few issues lately.

  25. Mo

    I haven't been there since the lock down but pre-covid I could regularly get a Camaro convertible in the Executive aisle in Miami.

  26. TM

    What you described was a pretty standard experience between National/Hertz/Avis pre-covid. I found that Hertz generally had a better variety in their Ultimate Choice program and often better rates for week+ rentals but post bankruptcy, their inventory has been stretched really thin. National has still been fairly consistent, but they are often the most expensive and that really adds up on my long rentals. For better rates, I often times will use Enterprise and pick...

    What you described was a pretty standard experience between National/Hertz/Avis pre-covid. I found that Hertz generally had a better variety in their Ultimate Choice program and often better rates for week+ rentals but post bankruptcy, their inventory has been stretched really thin. National has still been fairly consistent, but they are often the most expensive and that really adds up on my long rentals. For better rates, I often times will use Enterprise and pick up and/or drop off at an off-airport location, especially if it's a one way, and this usually saves hundreds of dollars.

  27. Greg

    All companies are the same as this if you're signed up for their members program. This National experience sounds identical to Hertz/Avis/Budget etc (or actually slower since you had a human interaction which other companies line Avis/Hertz don't need in my experience). All those companies let you know in their app about your car (or car choices) as you land

    Your main mistake has always been using Sixt who are typically off airport so...

    All companies are the same as this if you're signed up for their members program. This National experience sounds identical to Hertz/Avis/Budget etc (or actually slower since you had a human interaction which other companies line Avis/Hertz don't need in my experience). All those companies let you know in their app about your car (or car choices) as you land

    Your main mistake has always been using Sixt who are typically off airport so don't have this fast of an experience

  28. vector

    Ben, wakey wakey, you sound like Rip van Winkle.
    What you experienced is SOP at the Aisle, and has been for as long as I can remember. If you use a location with only counter service, the service is usually very good, with few exceptions. They used to have a good one way rates with unlimited miles and no drop fee, but they have joined the nickle and diming crowd.

  29. Becky

    Two downsides to National:
    1) They aren't in every smaller market.
    2) Not all locations have emerald aisles.

    But yes, other than that, they are always that awesome.

  30. Michael Burton

    Our company has been with National for 5 years. They are just, simply put, so easy to use. Book from my phone, Scan the car sticker on my phone, checkout at the gate is quick and easy. I haven't signed a form to rent a car for years.............Until I travelled to Texarkana where National did not have a location, then it was several screens on a computer to check out. Being Executive Elite is great....

    Our company has been with National for 5 years. They are just, simply put, so easy to use. Book from my phone, Scan the car sticker on my phone, checkout at the gate is quick and easy. I haven't signed a form to rent a car for years.............Until I travelled to Texarkana where National did not have a location, then it was several screens on a computer to check out. Being Executive Elite is great.

    I recently attempted to move to Avis as I fly American and wanted to get the bonus miles, but I could never get Avis to respond to us as a corporate account for some reason, and I just gave up.

    National assigned an account rep to our medium sized company and they help us with anything we need. To be honest, I can't remember my reps name because I never need them!

  31. Todd

    We rented from National Maui in March. 3rd time. Great experience. The guy escorted me to the exec aisle and asked what kind of car I wanted and helped me find it. They were awesome.

  32. buschoi

    I love National and have been renting from them exclusively for years unless the location does not have National (nor Enterprise) or they are significantly more expensive ($300+) than Avis or Hertz (I stay away from Thrifty, Dollar, etc.) It is always fun to pick from 2-3 aisles of at least 30-40 cars.

  33. david s oppenheimer

    We had a similar outstanding experience at National on Maui.

  34. Sel, D.

    @Lucky if using the same credit card next time, they only need to see your ID. Further, you can scan the barcode on the windshield and use “emerald checkout” and only present the barcode on your phone. Typically ID is easier, but emerald checkout is easy too if your ID isn’t handy.

    Also you potentially could have scored an SUV even with only reserving a midsize, but not worth the risk in your situation. I’ve sweet talked my way into hardtop BMWs and Audis.

  35. pdxparse

    National/Enterprise is fantastic - especially with Hertz and Avis struggling financially and liquidating large portions of their fleet. I just signed a contract with them for the company I work for - great company.

  36. EC2

    My company I gets Emerald status for it’s employees. I just retired, but still get the benefit. Additionally we can reserve an intermediate car, but pick any vehicle from the Emerald aisle. A truly great company and benefit.

  37. Scottrick

    This is consistently my experience with National. Great service, even without elite status. Just remember to sign up!

  38. Mike Saint

    I always use National in Hawaii and always had a great experience with them.

  39. EvilSecondTwin

    You worry more than my X gf... Good thing it worked out for you!

  40. Lukas

    Pre-covid, I used to rent a lot of cars and this is exactly the experience I always had with Hertz P.C. all over the states. Never any issues. Never any waiting.

  41. Raj

    Welcome to 10 years ago, Ben. It's good over here. Just roasting. Yes. National is great. Surely most of your readers will be surprised to hear that this is news to you.

  42. FranP

    The last time I rented a car from National at Maui airport it was infested with cockroaches. Thanks to the car parking attendant at the Westin for bringing it to our attention. We were staying at the then St Regis in Princeville and they tortured us before finally bring out a replacement car the next day. I will never rent from National again especially in Maui. I could get over the bugs as a very...

    The last time I rented a car from National at Maui airport it was infested with cockroaches. Thanks to the car parking attendant at the Westin for bringing it to our attention. We were staying at the then St Regis in Princeville and they tortured us before finally bring out a replacement car the next day. I will never rent from National again especially in Maui. I could get over the bugs as a very rare occurrence but the way they handle it was totally unprofessional and wasted a day of my vacation.

  43. MeanMeosh

    I switched to National after getting Executive Elite status with my Citi Prestige card about 6 years ago. What you saw isn't at all unusual in my experience. It's always been seamless and I've not once had a problem. I didn't buy the hype previously but they've completely won me over. As someone else noted, the only irritation is that they don't have an Emerald Aisle at a sizeable number of locations.

  44. Derek

    As others have mentioned this is the norm with National. They tend to cost a little more, but they also provide more.

    I would check to ensure the National you are renting from has Emerald Aisle. That's what really sets them apart. I've rented from locations without Emerald Aisle and it's pretty much the same as everyone else since you have to wait in line and hope to get a decent vehicle.

  45. DaninMCI

    I love National however...it isn't always that good. They have a few locations that somehow are franchised or something like SLC that make you wait in line in the lot because somehow the local chevy dealer or something controls it. LAS seems to suffer from too many crappy nissans etc. But normally they are very good.

  46. Reaper

    The handful of times I've used National have been good, but I get a similar level of choice/speed at Hertz with President's Circle, and typically at much lower prices. If you're expensing it, cost may be irrelevant, but I'm paying my own money.

    Just price checked two existing Hertz reservations I've got. National pricing is >2x Hertz in both cases.

  47. Not Lucky

    I'm with Reaper. Hertz, if you have PC, works beautifully at half the price. I compare every time. That said, I haven't gone anywhere or rented a car in 14 months!

  48. Stvr

    This post is spot on but I think it’s worth a larger self-reflection as to how Silvercar bought your silence for years with their affiliate program. Your readers tried to tell you this years ago. Happy to see you figured it out ultimately.

  49. Stvr

    stvr says:
    September 14, 2018 at 6:24 pm
    I remain shocked that as a professed travel expert you don’t talk more loudly about National Car Rental.

  50. Russ

    Yes, I think its this good with the exception of Denver or a ski town in peak winter. Everyone wants the SUVs, they aren’t there on the peak days. You need to book the car you want when you have certain space/people requirements. Other times, you pay for midsize and get whatever the heck you went- including a pickup that would make a U-Haul station manager drool.

  51. kelly S

    it’s our favorite to rent from in Maui..and we use executive aisle. Thank you for confirming there won’t be a problem ..we go next week and we’re worried our experience might be different this time. If we didn’t go with National I would say Alamo is second best. But having emerald aisle is the best if the price isn’t much more, I will pay a little more just for the ability to use it

  52. Greg

    Sounds like you don't rent often!

    If the car rental location has plenty of inventory you'll have a great experience regardless of whether it's National, Hertz, Avis as long as you're in one of the loyalty programs and don't expect a major upgrade from what you paid for.

    Each of the big 3 has an 'aisle' or 'choice' program nowadays. But if inventory is low at a location beware.

    Congrats on a sub $100...

    Sounds like you don't rent often!

    If the car rental location has plenty of inventory you'll have a great experience regardless of whether it's National, Hertz, Avis as long as you're in one of the loyalty programs and don't expect a major upgrade from what you paid for.

    Each of the big 3 has an 'aisle' or 'choice' program nowadays. But if inventory is low at a location beware.

    Congrats on a sub $100 rate for an SUV in Maui nowadays. Maybe the rush has eased off - you picked a shoulder month.

  53. DavidP

    From my previous experience, National’s always this awesome.

  54. Aleks

    Yup, this is how it is supposed to work and how it normally goes. That's why I almost always rent from National unless another agency is significantly cheaper.

  55. Rachael Green

    As someone who rented weekly for several years, yes. National, and also Alamo are often just this awesome. My husband, also a weekly traveler but bound by his company's "preferred brands" was always confined to Hertz and Avis, and suffice to say, business or leisure, it was always a solid disappointment and barrage of endless hoop-jumping, paperwork, and disappointing cars.

  56. Santastico

    Have been an Emerald Executive for a decade and never rented from anyone else. National is the best.

  57. Greg

    I rented from National in March at OGG and there were a few convertibles in the emerald aisle. A nice treat.

    The only caveat i would add is that your experience varies a lot in the smaller airports without an Emerald Aisle. A lot of these smaller stations have combined operations with Enterprise and Alamo. So you show up and have the same experience, same negotiation to get a car in the class you’ve...

    I rented from National in March at OGG and there were a few convertibles in the emerald aisle. A nice treat.

    The only caveat i would add is that your experience varies a lot in the smaller airports without an Emerald Aisle. A lot of these smaller stations have combined operations with Enterprise and Alamo. So you show up and have the same experience, same negotiation to get a car in the class you’ve reserved, as you would with Enterprise. The Colorado Springs airport has been brutal this year, for example. Low availability, “this is all we have,” and the nice SUVs held back for the ski renters paying top dollar.

  58. adam

    In Manhattan I have been using SIXT for several years. I liked the fact that when I had to go visit family I could always get an Escalade. During the last 18 months service has gone downhill and there is always some issue with a rental like at the end when you drop off after hours, follow directions, and for a week or longer they claim they can't find the car. In NYC they only...

    In Manhattan I have been using SIXT for several years. I liked the fact that when I had to go visit family I could always get an Escalade. During the last 18 months service has gone downhill and there is always some issue with a rental like at the end when you drop off after hours, follow directions, and for a week or longer they claim they can't find the car. In NYC they only used to have Cadillacs - now there are a whole range of vehicles with the dreaded "or similar" in the small print. I may give National a try as I work at JFK so easy to pick up there after work. Thanks Lucky.

  59. Andy

    National is phenomenal! Last time I was in Honolulu, I got a brand new Land Rover with only 16 miles on it. In my experience, the best place for most variety with National is in Phoenix Sky Harbor. It's fun to walk around and choose which car you want at the larger airports, and even at the small locations like Philadelphia 30th Street Station, I always get a choice and the people are super cool.

  60. Joe1293

    Enterprise National is a great rental car company

  61. AD

    @Greg +1. @Lucky, this is the standard experience, give or take, at the tier one rental companies. Which company is better varies over time and by location. But if you're in the program and you're not grabbing keys and driving away within 5 minutes... pick another vendor.

  62. Shawn

    Im actually quite surprised to read this on OMAAT. Where in the f do you rent cars? Isn’t this common knowledge? Or were you just so surprised it was this easy after hearing all the horror stories? Hertz is like this as well as others have said.

  63. Lu

    Always had good experience with National. However, they usually tend to be a bit more expensive than others.

  64. Ookami

    Found Costco in Maui to have the best deal on gas when you go return to the airport.

  65. sdfamilu

    Ditto for all said above for me. Nothing but great service. Bonus is that they partner with Enterprise. The local Enterprise is maybe 1/2 mile from my house. Rent from them to drive to LAX one way ($36). Also, have had insurance repairs and Enterprise rental. Got National credit.

  66. Betty

    I have rented from National for years. However, post Covid - they are SUBSTANTIALLY more expensive than Avis preferred. I so badly want to rent from them again but the price difference is so great I just can't justify it :-(

  67. Dan

    I used to work for enterprise and also worked at national (same company) for over 12 years. National is awesome because like you mentioned you don’t have to deal with a lot of small talk. It’s literally aimed at the business travellers who are always on the go.

  68. eric

    Found out the hard way that most rental company's suck. You get a car with high milage and not cleaned at all. Not at National, always a good experience. For me National only. Looking forward to your Hawaii reviews.

  69. Traveller

    I’ve been exclusively with National since 1998. Yes, the experience has been this good the entire time.

  70. Raquel Chole

    Looks as tho most of you have had great experiences with National. I am a frequent business traveler. I usually use Hertz but National had wooed me to make a switch so I tried them. Once. The car they assigned us was filthy. It looked as though the front seat area may have been wiped down haphazardly but the back seat area was scary dirty with spills, etc. The outside was streaked with dirt (and...

    Looks as tho most of you have had great experiences with National. I am a frequent business traveler. I usually use Hertz but National had wooed me to make a switch so I tried them. Once. The car they assigned us was filthy. It looked as though the front seat area may have been wiped down haphazardly but the back seat area was scary dirty with spills, etc. The outside was streaked with dirt (and it had not rained within the past few days). With the focus on clean during a pandemic it was unnerving to see how dirty it was on the inside: Fingerprints everywhere. The fix was simple, they told us to take any other car we wanted, so we picked the cleanest of them. Another aspect was that we needed an extra 4 hours on the 1 week rental, so they charged us $148 to keep the car those four hours, which was about half the cost of the weeklong rental. This was arranged in advance, not at the last minute, so the excessive cost is pretty hard to explain.

  71. G

    I joined the National Emerald Club 10+ years ago. My old company had a corporate contract with them that is part of the employee discount program, and that means I can use the same corporate rate for personal rental. A few years ago, I was in Maui rented one from National. I paid like $35 or so a day (then you add taxes and fees to that) and picked my car in the aisle -...

    I joined the National Emerald Club 10+ years ago. My old company had a corporate contract with them that is part of the employee discount program, and that means I can use the same corporate rate for personal rental. A few years ago, I was in Maui rented one from National. I paid like $35 or so a day (then you add taxes and fees to that) and picked my car in the aisle - a Mustang! Since I got the Chase Sapphire Reserve (CSR) card, I am at the Executive level and got more choices of cars, even rented a Camaro once. Recently, I changed job, so can't use the old corporate rate any more and found that National at times are quite a bit more than competition. I'm trying Avis Preferred program via CSR card next week, and it says I can skip the line and pick my car. Let's see how that works out! I rented from Avis before but never skipping lines and pick any car.

  72. D.A.

    I rent from National on Maui at least once every month for work and have had great luck with them.

    You rented a Suburban on Maui??? Where did you expect to park that beast?? Hawaii parking spaces are rarely designed for big SUVs. Hope y'all are really skinny and can get out of the SUV in tiny Maui parking spaces.

    Aloha!

  73. Daniel D

    National is very professional and they offer a smooth experience. Also have fond memories on the Big Island for my honeymoon getting a BMW SUV for the midsize car rate with the status that CSR gives.

  74. Bruno

    Hi Ben,

    Usually the experience is always like this in locations where they have Emerald Aisles (most of the locations in major airports).
    If you use their app, you can even check yourself in to the car you chose just scanning the QR-Code on the keychain and then just show the barcode on your phone and ID to the booth agent and you’re ready to go.

    Unfortunately, that’s not the case in locations with...

    Hi Ben,

    Usually the experience is always like this in locations where they have Emerald Aisles (most of the locations in major airports).
    If you use their app, you can even check yourself in to the car you chose just scanning the QR-Code on the keychain and then just show the barcode on your phone and ID to the booth agent and you’re ready to go.

    Unfortunately, that’s not the case in locations with no Emerald Aisle. At these locations it’s more like the usual rental car experience where you need to go to the counter, sign contracts and then they assign you a specific car.

  75. madgoat

    When I was traveling for work I rented from National for all my trips where I needed a car, primarily out of SAT. Most of the time I was able to grab something premium out of the Executive aisle: Audis, Volvos, Cadillacs, and Infinitis (if I had to slum it). I usually stuck to smaller vehicles, but if I wanted a truck or SUV they had you covered there as well. In and out, fast...

    When I was traveling for work I rented from National for all my trips where I needed a car, primarily out of SAT. Most of the time I was able to grab something premium out of the Executive aisle: Audis, Volvos, Cadillacs, and Infinitis (if I had to slum it). I usually stuck to smaller vehicles, but if I wanted a truck or SUV they had you covered there as well. In and out, fast returns without hassle. I'd rent from them even if it were my own dime (and Silvercar wasn't available).

  76. Timo

    National & Alamo are shared companies. I usually always use Alamo since it tends to have some of the best prices. They also have "skip the counter" at most bigger airports. Love their service. National is pricier but with slightly better cars. And the plus is that Alamo/National operate as Europcar in Europe which I use all the time with no problems. BTW, the Alamo app has improved greatly and does most everything you need.

    ...

    National & Alamo are shared companies. I usually always use Alamo since it tends to have some of the best prices. They also have "skip the counter" at most bigger airports. Love their service. National is pricier but with slightly better cars. And the plus is that Alamo/National operate as Europcar in Europe which I use all the time with no problems. BTW, the Alamo app has improved greatly and does most everything you need.

    My only complaint is the inadequate amount of shuttles at LAX for Alamo/National but with the new people mover/consolidated rental car center that will be resolved!

  77. Blackpond

    Emerald Isle is pretty consistently awesome, although not always the best price. Sometimes when I know I am going to need something large, like a minivan or big SUV, I will make an Emerald Isle reservation and then reserve a van with cheaper company. That way, if they have what I need on the Emerald Isle, I am good to go. If not, then I have the other as a back up. There have only...

    Emerald Isle is pretty consistently awesome, although not always the best price. Sometimes when I know I am going to need something large, like a minivan or big SUV, I will make an Emerald Isle reservation and then reserve a van with cheaper company. That way, if they have what I need on the Emerald Isle, I am good to go. If not, then I have the other as a back up. There have only been a couple of times I couldn't find something to meet my need on the Isle. Also, you can sometimes get something really fun, like a convertible or a Mini Cooper, all for just the mid-size price.

  78. Doug Brown

    Anybody used TURO and have comments ?

  79. Simon

    Yes, for National at HNL as well. Cannot remember which one, but another had a line out the door. Went up direct up the garage and 'which one do you want?'.

  80. Grant

    I just returned my National car after a 4 day rental - have used them exclusively for 10 years and now Emerald Club Executive.

    Simply the best. Love the Nissan Altimas and Maximas I have rented.

  81. Rob Lipman

    For such frequent travelers, I'm surprised to hear so many people are unfamiliar with renting cars.

    It's been much more difficult to get a reasonably priced cars from any agency over the past two years. Due to the pandemic, the three majors (they own most of the others) - sold off large portions of their fleets, since the price of used cars increased so dramatically. Now, they can't buy enough new cars to replenish...

    For such frequent travelers, I'm surprised to hear so many people are unfamiliar with renting cars.

    It's been much more difficult to get a reasonably priced cars from any agency over the past two years. Due to the pandemic, the three majors (they own most of the others) - sold off large portions of their fleets, since the price of used cars increased so dramatically. Now, they can't buy enough new cars to replenish their fleets. I just got quoted $900 for a three day one way rental - and I've seen $1000 weekly rentals all over this summer.

    If you have a premium credit card, be sure to sign up for frequent renter access at ALL of the major rental companies. That will usually reduce your rental rate significantly - from as little as 10% to as much as 50%. You can also get lower rates from organizations such as AAA or AARP. What's going on now is nothing short of unconscionable... it's worth your time so search for lower car rental rates from multiple vendors. And don't forget to keep checking, because prices DO change.

  82. Pedro Gonzalez

    FranP - FYI, Princeville is not in Maui, it's in Kauai...
    ..
    Ben, you didn't mention how easy it is to get from the Baggage Claim in OGG to the majors car rental counters...2 minute train ride or you can hoof it in 5 minutes. Easy.
    ..
    Yes the car rental situation in OGG is bad. A year ago they had 18,000 cars sitting in lots all over the place, and...

    FranP - FYI, Princeville is not in Maui, it's in Kauai...
    ..
    Ben, you didn't mention how easy it is to get from the Baggage Claim in OGG to the majors car rental counters...2 minute train ride or you can hoof it in 5 minutes. Easy.
    ..
    Yes the car rental situation in OGG is bad. A year ago they had 18,000 cars sitting in lots all over the place, and now availability is tight...look at Costco cars site...nothing available in any class in June and July. Lots of U-haul pickups and vans driving around as folks couldn't get a rental car.
    ...On another note, better bring your vaccination card as starting Tuesday, if you don't have it you're going to have a nice wait while they do another airport test upon arrival...aarrrrrggg.

  83. Flieger

    You´re doing it wrong, Ben. With National you book a standard car and then you pick whatever you like. As an Exec or Exec Elite you can usually get a nice SUV or a Camaro or something fun.

    I rented on all the islands of Hawaii with National and the cars were great every single time. Jeeps, Musle cars, Pickup Trucks... Fun cars and I paid the standard rate for a car. National is just on another level as the whole dirty rest of rental car companies...

  84. Mike

    National has done it this way for a looooong time (I think my first time was almost 20 years ago?), but Hertz and Avis have done it for a number of years as well. I don't remember the last time I waited in a line to get a car. Granted its mostly at larger airports, but that's normally where I'm flying anyway. Even back before Hertz and Avis had car choice they had the system...

    National has done it this way for a looooong time (I think my first time was almost 20 years ago?), but Hertz and Avis have done it for a number of years as well. I don't remember the last time I waited in a line to get a car. Granted its mostly at larger airports, but that's normally where I'm flying anyway. Even back before Hertz and Avis had car choice they had the system where you just looked your name up on the board and went to your car and drove off. The thing that's changed in the last 5ish years or so is that Hertz and Avis have car choice.

  85. Larry

    Had the same experience in Maui with a suburban with one exception, 5 day rental was free except $30 tax. You need to discuss the rewards program. With executive status you get a free day with every 5th rental very little if any exclusions. No other company does that.

  86. Annie

    I have been booking with National exclusively for the last four or five years. I have rented with the Emerald Aisle (Sacramento, and Portland), and Salt Lake City (no Emerald Aisle) and been happy with the selection of cars and the check in and check out process. I have had a few smaller SUVs (Hyundai Santa Fe, and a Nissan Rouge) and sedans (Nissan Altima, Chevrolet Impala, and a Toyota Camry). Customer service wise in...

    I have been booking with National exclusively for the last four or five years. I have rented with the Emerald Aisle (Sacramento, and Portland), and Salt Lake City (no Emerald Aisle) and been happy with the selection of cars and the check in and check out process. I have had a few smaller SUVs (Hyundai Santa Fe, and a Nissan Rouge) and sedans (Nissan Altima, Chevrolet Impala, and a Toyota Camry). Customer service wise in 2019 when in Wyoming we had a rock shatter the windshield of the car we were renting and I was super nervous about returning the vehicle (because we didn’t do the LDW through National because we have AmEx) but I returned the car like normal and made sure I took a picture of the license plate and the damage. I waited for two weeks or so for a call from National requesting insurance information and then a month and now almost two years later I still haven’t heard a thing. I would assume that they fixed the cracked windshield on their own and classified it as a road hazard incident. If that isn’t customer service I don’t know what else is.

    We have National booked this summer (6/12 to 6/20) for a Philadelphia to Pittsburgh road trip and we will be paying $587 (after taxes and fees) for 8 days with a standard SUV (Ford Edge is what they listed as the comparable car). It was about the same price as a small SUV (Rav 4) and $100 less a week than using the Emerald Aisle. I just had to edit the reservation because our flight times changed (only an hour later arriving and 30 minutes later dropping off) and there was no change to the price, which was great as well. Of course we are paying a bit more because we are dropping off at another airport but I am happy with the rate and hope to have the same positive experience with National that I have had in the past.

  87. Robert

    National is fantastic. I flew regularly to DFW and they cycled through cars like crazy. Don't see a car you want? Wait 10 min and the next batch came out. I can't count the number of times the aisle got me a BMW. I have to be forced to rent anywhere else

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Robert

National is fantastic. I flew regularly to DFW and they cycled through cars like crazy. Don't see a car you want? Wait 10 min and the next batch came out. I can't count the number of times the aisle got me a BMW. I have to be forced to rent anywhere else

Annie

I have been booking with National exclusively for the last four or five years. I have rented with the Emerald Aisle (Sacramento, and Portland), and Salt Lake City (no Emerald Aisle) and been happy with the selection of cars and the check in and check out process. I have had a few smaller SUVs (Hyundai Santa Fe, and a Nissan Rouge) and sedans (Nissan Altima, Chevrolet Impala, and a Toyota Camry). Customer service wise in 2019 when in Wyoming we had a rock shatter the windshield of the car we were renting and I was super nervous about returning the vehicle (because we didn’t do the LDW through National because we have AmEx) but I returned the car like normal and made sure I took a picture of the license plate and the damage. I waited for two weeks or so for a call from National requesting insurance information and then a month and now almost two years later I still haven’t heard a thing. I would assume that they fixed the cracked windshield on their own and classified it as a road hazard incident. If that isn’t customer service I don’t know what else is. We have National booked this summer (6/12 to 6/20) for a Philadelphia to Pittsburgh road trip and we will be paying $587 (after taxes and fees) for 8 days with a standard SUV (Ford Edge is what they listed as the comparable car). It was about the same price as a small SUV (Rav 4) and $100 less a week than using the Emerald Aisle. I just had to edit the reservation because our flight times changed (only an hour later arriving and 30 minutes later dropping off) and there was no change to the price, which was great as well. Of course we are paying a bit more because we are dropping off at another airport but I am happy with the rate and hope to have the same positive experience with National that I have had in the past.

Larry

Had the same experience in Maui with a suburban with one exception, 5 day rental was free except $30 tax. You need to discuss the rewards program. With executive status you get a free day with every 5th rental very little if any exclusions. No other company does that.

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