Golf Vacation Travel

The Best Rental Car Companies For Golfers

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I watch a lot of golf on TV, and I’ve noticed a trend over the years:

More and more ads for rental car companies.

Maybe that’s one reason why we get so many people asking, “What’s the best rental car company for golfers?”

Here’s my take on it:

I didn’t want to get into all of the following on the above video, but here are factors to consider in determining the best rental car companies for traveling golfers:

Don't let your car situation come to this on your next golf trip. (smartcarofamerica.com)

Don’t let your car situation come to this on your next golf trip. (smartcarofamerica.com)

Location, Location, Location
Remember when most car rental counters were located right next to the baggage claim? That sure made it easy to fly in and get to the tee on time. Some airports and companies are still better at this than others. Orlando stands out as one airport where the car rental desks are “right there.” San Francisco, not so much.

Checkout Speed
Is it me or does renting a car at the counter take WAY longer than it should? I mean, you have my reservation information. Why are you typing so much?! (Sorry, had to vent.) Some companies, such as National and its Emerald Club, allow you to bypass the checkout line altogether, which is…awesome.

Size (and Model) Matters
When traveling with other golfers, golf clubs, golf travel bags, and suitcases, you’re likely going to need a large trunk and/or a large vehicle like an SUV or minivan to fit everything. Every rental company has these kinds of cars, but not all have an adequate supply of them and offer non-gouge pricing. Keep in mind, too, since rental car companies express their size classifications as [Car Model] “or similar,” it’s best to know what, “or similar” means.

Advanced Savings
A number of the major rental car companies offer discounts if you pay for your car in advance of picking it up, sometimes with discounts of more than $100. This seems like a no-brainer that you might be able to parlay with the “kill-’em-with-kindness” maneuver Craig mentioned in the above video.

Loyalty Has its Rewards
I’m not sure this is golf-specific, but a good loyalty program is key. Again, most of the major companies have them, but some are better than others, such as the invitation-only “Avis First.” Members receive free upgrades, line-skipping privileges, members-only deals, and a dedicated customer service phone number.

To sum up, it seems to us that the “ideal rental car company for golfers” would offer the following:

– Easy, on-airport locations
– Good availability and pricing on larger vehicles
– The ability to skip the checkout counter if necessary
– The ability to save by paying in advance
– A robust loyalty program

What do you think?

What’s your pick for “best rental car company for golfers”?

Which companies minimize the hassle?

Any that golfers should avoid?

Please share your thoughts or read what others are saying below.

The Best Rental Car Companies For Golfers

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22 Comments

  1. j mallon

    November 25, 2014 at 10:54 am

    i plan a lot of trips, and always find renting my car at costco.com is the cheapest. you need to be a member of costco. they deal with all the major car rental companies, but he prices are by far better.

  2. single mum

    November 25, 2014 at 10:58 am

    yep – another good piece, Golf Vacation guys. The key thing is to get a car with plenty of room for a number of sets of clubs – not just one set

  3. Mike S

    November 25, 2014 at 10:59 am

    Rent through Costco. That will save you about 25-30%….. Then pick the best deal…. My experience has been that Budget gives me the best deal over and over again in the “Full” size category for clubs and suitcases….. Immediately apply for a “Rapid Reserve” number and enter a credit card in their secure spot and put that # on when you reserve….. Then when you show up at the desk and there are 20-40 people waiting, you go immediately to the “Rapid Reserve” line and stand there quietly until they ask you your name. show your license, sign the papers and walk away with the keys! It really is as easy as that… :)

  4. Thomas Popplewell

    November 25, 2014 at 11:09 am

    I think the best is Hertz if you go with the gold club. It’s not the cheapest, but what good is it to save money on a rental if it takes you an extra hour of waiting to get your car? I think the worst is Enterprise. I’ve hear it will rip you off for fake damage claims. I’ve had hassles with Alamo before and won’t use them anymore.

  5. kevin

    November 25, 2014 at 11:22 am

    I rec’d an emerald club membership through my employer. It is the best move I ever made for car rental.
    The ease of simply walking to a car and going on your way is a great way to start a vacation. They always have a large selection of cars and pricing is competitive.

  6. keith frazee

    November 25, 2014 at 11:52 am

    National Car Rental and their Emerald Aisle Club is a no brainer. Join their no charge club, reserve in advance. They quote you the best rate and give you a total $ amt. you will pay at check in. Reserve a conservative vehicle and then you can upgrade at no cost with any vehicle on the Emerald Aisle. Look over the inventory and jump in to any car/van you want on those aisles. SUV’s and ‘mini’ vans in particular make great golf vehicles. I’ve rented from them in many locations for many years and have never been disappointed.

  7. Al Unger

    November 25, 2014 at 11:52 am

    I always have the best luck with Budget. Use a Discover Card if you have one and enter a promo code (google it) and get a 25% discount. Also, if possible, off-airport locations save you a lot of money if you can get there from the airport.

    Trunk space is a concern but if there’s just 2 of you don’t forget the back seat. I have found that taking the driver and fairway woods out of the bag allows you to get away with a compact car. Really makes things less complicated.

  8. Bob Bem

    November 25, 2014 at 11:58 am

    12 of us have been going to Orlando for 30 years, to play eight days of golf. We rent 3 minivans from Budget, Their service has always been great and if you use their Fastbreak option, you just go to the pick-up area and give them your name, and they will get your vehicle. The great thing is you don’t have to go the rental desk and wait in a line. When returning you vehicle, you just take your vehicle to the return area and head to your airline gate. Plus their prices have been the BEST! To us, it is a no brainer to use Budget.

  9. Very Experienced Traveler

    November 25, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    I don’t know the best rental car company for golf trips because I usually use Hertz
    Gold. But I accidently found the best car for the money on a trip to St. Thomas , V.I. It is the DODGE GRAND CARAVAN.
    It has more room than all those gas guzzling, expensive, giant, SUV’s for half the price at most rental companies.

  10. Frank N

    November 25, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    Will never rent from Thrifty again. Heavy sales pitch for upgrade then kept changing the prices down until I accepted. Found out when I returned the car that the upgrade charge was IN ADDITION to the price I had already paid online to rent through Hotwire. The original salesperson did not answer me directly when I pointed out how little more I was paying for the upgrade- I assume now it’s because she knew I had the wrong impression but she wasn’t going to help me out. Their response to my complaint was that I signed the contract so that absolves them of any wrongdoing. Does anyone know if they get paid a commission for any upgrades they sell you? P.S. I accept my share of the blame for not asking more direct questions, but I think an ethical company helps their customers out instead of taking them for whatever they can get.

  11. Gus

    November 25, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    For every golf trip I’ve taken we’ve always rented one Mini Van for every four people. It guarantees us enough room for our suitcases and clubs. Never want to be squished in like sardines. When it comes to best rental car company, it’s always the one with the lowest prices.

  12. Tom F

    November 25, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    Actually, renting at the airport usually adds “mucho dineros to the cost, as all airportscharge a “property fee”, or some other non sense add on. I find it’s better to rent from an off site place and either ask if they have a shuttle or taxi off airport property.

  13. Jay S

    November 25, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    If you really want to save , don’t rent at the airport. Find a site off airport and save the ridiculous airport charges. For example, go 10 minutes off airport ka the Kansas City airport and save nearly 50%

  14. B Trufen

    November 25, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    Biggest rip off Budget Phoenix. Advertise rental with a car like….. and when you get
    there the car is the smallest possible that can’t hold clubs then it costs a small
    fortune to upgrade. Good Scam.

  15. Pat M

    November 25, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    Sorry guys, but I will NEVER RENT FROM BUDGET again!!!! Got totally screwed by the sales person. I specifically told him I wanted to waive any additional insurance. I checked and both my own auto insurance policy and my credit card give me plenty of coverage so I did not want any added insurance on my rental. The guy ignored me and added it in. You know what it’s like at those counters… everyone in a hurry, trying to get a car and get on the road. I did not read the agreement carefully, signed it and ended up with additional charges of $200 +!!!!! I called Budget and complained… but like Frank N in the previous comment above, I signed it so I was stuck. They did give me some $ back when I complained, but no way would I ever rent from Budget again. Bad News all around.

  16. Dick T

    November 25, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    One more big deal in car rentals for a golf trip is the ability to add alternate drivers for free. No one wants to be the designated driver the whole time! Unfortunately, it’s not easy to find that out.

  17. James

    November 25, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    Recent trip to England and Ssotland. Europcar $300 for two weeks in a Voxhaul station wagon with 40 plus miles to the gallon. No drop charge.

  18. Jim P

    November 25, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    In Myrtle Beach I rented from Sixt, a company I did not know beforehand, but they set us up with a large vehicle perfect for 4 guys and clubs. They did a great job. Hertz is terrible, it has scams set up in its services and fees, which I find anti-consumer, including the pre-paid gas option, as I learned in New Orleans. I’ll never rent from Hertz again, and I recommend others avoid it, too.

  19. Roddieboy

    November 25, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    National Emerald Club can not be beat you rent at a mid size rate which it you check regularly Will be better than all other rates and when you arrive all you do is find a full size or better start it up drive up to the check out Window and drive off usually lest than five minutes. The longest part of the process is chosen the best car from the wide choice available. The first time I did this in could not believe how fast it was or the type of cars I could choose from. Other compnies would two to three times as much for the same vehicle

  20. Alberto

    November 28, 2014 at 11:01 am

    For great rates try Autoslash.com, they search out the best rate for you. From the time you book the reservation until the time you rent your car Autoslash.com will monitor the rates at most of the rental car companies and when they find a lower rate they cancel the current reservation and book the lower rate. No extra fees and you can cancel at any time at no charge.
    Example, in Jan 2014 I booked a trip for July 2014, the best rate I could find on various sites for 4 days was $225, I went to autoslash.com and found they also had a best rate of $225. I booked it. Over the course of the next 6 months I received several emails stating my rate had dropped, my rate ended up being $106 for the same 4 days.

  21. John

    December 9, 2014 at 9:47 am

    Avoid Dollar/Thrifty like the plague. I had the misfortune of having an accident which the police report clearly established was not my fault. I declined their coverage because mine through my credit card and personal coverage was more than adequate. Ultimately, the driver of the other vehicle was going to be responsible for all claim costs anyway. Dollar/Thrifty harassed me continuously for up front payment for months while the claims were being resolved until I got my attorney involved and they backed off. I used to rent from them all the time for business and personal travel but I will never rent from them again.

  22. Andre

    April 29, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    A number of years ago my wife and I rented a full-size car (with trunk-through) at Palm Springs off-airport location while on a golf vacation. It seemed to be OK – we fit everything in no problem. A few days later we took it on the highway and heard loud thumping noise coming from the front. I stopped on the shoulder (at night) and found the scoop fairing on the front was hanging loosely. I tied it up and the noise went away. When we returned the car, the agent who inspected the car went directly to the driver side and pointed out a half-inch dent near the front of the roof. My wife and I both knew that there was no way we had caused this damage. It looked more like wear and tear.
    End result: The rental company (Enterprise) charged me $300 on my credit card on the spot. Then they tried to get another $1000 to fix the damage. Then they had a collection agency come after me.
    I refused to pay and 12 years later I still cannot rent from Enterprise in either the US or Canada because I have a bad note on their system.
    It’s their loss.

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