National price comparison

Old Jan 22, 17, 1:55 pm
  #1  
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National price comparison

I'm curious as to why National is (for me) always significantly more expensive than Hertz and Enterprise?

Just as an example, an identical search for a major-airport mid-size weekly Saturday to Saturday rental comes in at:
  • Hertz $234
  • Enterprise $250
  • National $402

Am I missing something? The Emerald Aisle sounds like a good benefit, but surely not enough to justify that kind of price difference.
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Old Jan 22, 17, 2:08 pm
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Have you tried to apply a discount code (even a very generic one like 5007125 for National Emerald Club members) to see how the situation changes? Looking at rack rates is not really a good indication of how prices stack up among companies. It's like looking at the MSRP for a major consumer electronics item. A smart shopper rarely pays retail.
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Old Jan 22, 17, 2:45 pm
  #3  
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The example was just to demonstrate the scale of how much more expensive National quotes come out for me.

I rent cars a lot and have tried many combinations of codes, pick up day, how far in advance I reserve, etc. I currently use Hertz and have learned the best times to book to get the lowest rates.

A friend has been praising the Emerald Aisle and I would try it, but only if I can figure out how to get their pricing competitive with what I'm paying now. I guess I'm trying to establish whether National are just more expensive, or whether I'm doing it wrong.

If anyone wants to replicate my example search, it was at DTW from 1/28 (noon) to 2/4 (noon).
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Old Jan 22, 17, 5:55 pm
  #4  
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Originally Posted by mnic View Post
The example was just to demonstrate the scale of how much more expensive National quotes come out for me.

I rent cars a lot and have tried many combinations of codes, pick up day, how far in advance I reserve, etc. I currently use Hertz and have learned the best times to book to get the lowest rates.

A friend has been praising the Emerald Aisle and I would try it, but only if I can figure out how to get their pricing competitive with what I'm paying now. I guess I'm trying to establish whether National are just more expensive, or whether I'm doing it wrong.

If anyone wants to replicate my example search, it was at DTW from 1/28 (noon) to 2/4 (noon).
National DTW is usually higher for rentals occurring on weekdays on account of heavy business travel (as is the case with many stations). Of course, only you can put the value on what driving a newer/better equipped vehicle is - obviously, it's not as important to some people to pay the premium.

And of course, sometimes different companies just have different rates for the same time period...a function of fleet utilization and other statistics behind the scenes. That's completely outside of anyone's control!
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Old Jan 22, 17, 6:02 pm
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Originally Posted by mnic View Post
The example was just to demonstrate the scale of how much more expensive National quotes come out for me.

I rent cars a lot and have tried many combinations of codes, pick up day, how far in advance I reserve, etc. I currently use Hertz and have learned the best times to book to get the lowest rates.

A friend has been praising the Emerald Aisle and I would try it, but only if I can figure out how to get their pricing competitive with what I'm paying now. I guess I'm trying to establish whether National are just more expensive, or whether I'm doing it wrong.

If anyone wants to replicate my example search, it was at DTW from 1/28 (noon) to 2/4 (noon).

Payless car rental is cheaper for me than national but personally I rather have a higher chance of getting a car that runs well, and doesn't smell like smoke
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Old Jan 22, 17, 7:24 pm
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So I plugged in your DTW from 1/28 (noon) to 2/4 (noon) search into our system. Here are the lowest rate I got for each of the major companies using standard discount codes:

Dollar - $182
Thrifty - $189
Enterprise - $189
Alamo - $194
Avis - $196
Hertz - $197
National - $359

So yes, National in DTW (at least for these dates) is WAY more expensive than any other company.

I wanted to see if DTW was an anomaly so I ran a few other cities. Here's ORD for the same dates:

Budget - $248
Avis - $254
Hertz - $262
Alamo - $264
Dollar/Thrifty - $325
Enterprise - $403
National - $430 (also the highest of all the companies)

LAX, MIA, BOS and CLE were all similarly high. Then I ran JFK. National was $599.64 undiscounted, which was again the highest of all of the major companies. However after applying the standard Emerald Club Discount (5007125) and a $30 off coupon from their website, the price came down to $269 which was right in line with the discounted rates for other companies and less than half the rack rate. I've seen many other situations where National was priced very competitively with the other majors.

Bottom line, it depends on the situation/location but based on testing multiple locations for this particular week, National appears to be priced way higher than average. My guess is that EHI feels they have a premium product and people are willing to pay for it. They certainly have been spending a lot on advertising lately, so whatever they're doing, it must be working.

Last edited by AutoSlash; Jan 22, 17 at 7:36 pm
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Old Jan 22, 17, 9:59 pm
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Originally Posted by AutoSlash View Post
So I plugged in your DTW from 1/28 (noon) to 2/4 (noon) search into our system. Here are the lowest rate I got for each of the major companies using standard discount codes:

Dollar - $182
Thrifty - $189
Enterprise - $189
Alamo - $194
Avis - $196
Hertz - $197
National - $359

So yes, National in DTW (at least for these dates) is WAY more expensive than any other company.

I wanted to see if DTW was an anomaly so I ran a few other cities. Here's ORD for the same dates:

Budget - $248
Avis - $254
Hertz - $262
Alamo - $264
Dollar/Thrifty - $325
Enterprise - $403
National - $430 (also the highest of all the companies)

LAX, MIA, BOS and CLE were all similarly high. Then I ran JFK. National was $599.64 undiscounted, which was again the highest of all of the major companies. However after applying the standard Emerald Club Discount (5007125) and a $30 off coupon from their website, the price came down to $269 which was right in line with the discounted rates for other companies and less than half the rack rate. I've seen many other situations where National was priced very competitively with the other majors.

Bottom line, it depends on the situation/location but based on testing multiple locations for this particular week, National appears to be priced way higher than average. My guess is that EHI feels they have a premium product and people are willing to pay for it. They certainly have been spending a lot on advertising lately, so whatever they're doing, it must be working.
Thanks. I really appreciate you taking the time to look into it. It has answered my question. As you suggest, I can only assume that they think their product respects the higher price... although I'm not sure that it does.

You are right that by applying effort the rack price can be brought down, but the same can be said for the other companies. After CDP and careful timing I usually pay a much lower price for an equivalent weekly rental, so even with a Contract ID and $30 coupon (I had tried both) National is still significantly more expensive.

With my usage I spend $600-900 per month renting with Hertz. I estimate that it would be $1200+ if I did the same with National. Emerald Aisle (with status) sounds good, but not enough to justify that much extra spend.

I didn't mean to criticize National. Maybe they are marketing themselves as a high-end rental company, and that will work with some customers who will be happy to pay slightly more for a better choice on their short rentals. Unfortunately that doesn't work for a high-volume renter like myself.
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Old Jan 23, 17, 1:21 pm
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Originally Posted by AutoSlash View Post

Bottom line, it depends on the situation/location but based on testing multiple locations for this particular week, National appears to be priced way higher than average. My guess is that EHI feels they have a premium product and people are willing to pay for it. They certainly have been spending a lot on advertising lately, so whatever they're doing, it must be working.
I don't think National doesn't really goes after the leisure traveler as that's Alamo's market. Most of the rentals are priced off corporate pre-negotiated rates. For example the rate for my company is about $35-$50 per day for midsize across the country depending on location regardless of the time of the year.
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Old Jan 23, 17, 1:43 pm
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Originally Posted by xienon View Post
I don't think National doesn't really goes after the leisure traveler as that's Alamo's market. Most of the rentals are priced off corporate pre-negotiated rates. For example the rate for my company is about $35-$50 per day for midsize across the country depending on location regardless of the time of the year.
Agreed. When I took my family to Kona on vacation I booked a minivan at around $200/day (I used my free days on that one obviously). I noticed my corporate rate for a full-size SUV during the same time period was only $35/day I used the full-size SUV as comparison because it's an even more expensive class than a minivan, which isn't available under my corporate contract.
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Old Jan 23, 17, 9:52 pm
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See here's a situation where National is far lower than anyone else and these are all undiscounted rates. Look specifically at the Minivan or Fullsize SUV.

National at 320 O'Farrell St. in San Fran is $707 for a Minivan, while the next closest competitor (Hertz) is $920. Even stranger is that sister brand Alamo two doors down at 340 O'Farrell is almost double the cost at $1,399. You just never know.
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Old Jan 24, 17, 9:16 am
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(deleted duplicate reply, it turns out my last one was just awaiting moderation)

Last edited by mnic; Jan 25, 17 at 8:10 pm Reason: Duplicate post
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Old Feb 1, 17, 8:03 am
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Why, Oh Why, Are You So Expensive National?

I've been President's Circle with Hertz for a long time. I probably have close to 1K rental days in the last 15 years. We have a corporate rate program with them but it's usually about the same as a AAA rate. It's just been miserable renting with them lately. I will spare you the details. So I decided to try Emerald Club/National and they gave me a status match to Executive Elite. I've done a few 1-way rentals with them and the cars have been great, very new, nice and I'm in and out really fast.

The problem is that they are expensive. I'm not talking $10-20 more per week expensive. I'm on a project in Jackson, MS, right now and Hertz is at $175/week for a Mid and National is $340. I'm finding that everywhere else I try them. It saddens me because I'd really like to switch my loyalty but my client here is a mid-size firm and I'd feel guilty jacking them for $1K in extra rental charges on a 2-month project so I get a fancier car.

Are there any publicly available discount programs with them that I should try? My company does have a rate with them through Egencia but that books out the same. I also tried the "discount" I get on them with the Ritz Carlton Chase Visa and it's negligible too. They are almost always double Hertz when I try to book them in Jackson, Milwaukee, Madison and O'Hare.

I'm sad. I guess you get what you pay for and I'd be willing to pay 10-20% more but not 100% more.
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Old Feb 1, 17, 8:44 am
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There was another FT thread recently about their pricing. They are very well aware that they have a premium brand and service, and appear to be pricing it accordingly. They have also been advertising quite a bit on TV and I suspect that has helped to boost their profile, thus allowing them to support the higher rates in many cases.

All of that said, depending on the situation there are deals to be had. Also keep in mind that there are quite a few coupons floating around which can help to get the rate down, although admittedly in most cases we're still seeing more competitive rates from Hertz and the like.

One decent discount code is for Southwest Rapid Rewards members.
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Old Feb 1, 17, 11:04 am
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I've been steadily switching back to Avis, in part because of pricing, but also because the service at PDX, where I mostly rent, is terrible and cannot justify the pricing. For this weekend, Avis is $77 including taxes for the weekend for a full size car. National is $137. The last time I rented from National at PDX, I got a smoked-in Altima with 19K miles. It was one of only 3 cars on the Executive Aisle (the other 2 were higher mileage). The last time I rented from Avis at PDX, I got a new Subaru Outback.

I enjoyed it while it lasted, but I think my time at National is just about done.
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Old Feb 2, 17, 8:03 am
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I find the value in National these days, for when I need a people mover.

I can pay $40-50 a day midsize rate and still secure a Minivan/Full Size SUV. Compared to other companies charging $70+, it's a deal.

Now if your just one person I can see not wanting to pay a premium, as compared to the other companies for a car.
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