I prefer National Car Rental, but they are no longer the cheapest of the bunch.
On average I get 15 free days a year from them, just for renting with them. Price is a tad higher, but then the benfits are also nice.
I was a loyal AvisFirst Customer renting every other week until they started abusing me with dirty high mileage and fender falling off cars. They ignored my concerns, so as of January 1st, I joined Hertz (now a 5 Star Premium member) and have never looked back.
I joined to "bypass" the counter which I could NEVER do with AVIS and have not had one problem with Hertz.
I have signed up with TWO rental car programs: Hertz and National.
Hertz: Have been a member for a very long time and currently at President's Circle. The only level higher is Platinum and that is sent to you by Hertz, similar to what Marriott does for Plat P members.
National: Read SS post, as it is spot on. BTW, I haven't asked National to "match" my status like Hertz, but I will do that shortly.
Having rented both, I prefer Hertz as they NEVER have left me hanging, have always rented me two class upgrades for no additional price. Now that I have my own GPS (work actually), I no longer get the GPS offer. I also benefit from multiple CDP programs, so prices are discounted quite nicely.
Recently coming back from trip to the west coast and the two rentals I had were awesome, both up to date (2009) and one rental was at the Prestige level rental. It was a great trip!
Scale of 1-10, Hertz imo gets a 9, National gets a 7.
Two new developments on the National Front: They have raised their prices significantly and are now more than Hertz! And, they have begun a new tier renewal program, meaning in my case, I need to have 25 discrete rentals per year to make Executive Elite once more. Ironically I rent by the month, so each month only counts as one rental! And, after being a loyal EE member for ten years, it now seems they will be throwing me under the (rental) bus! Hertz is now my Number One!!!
If you are Marriott Rewards Member and it looks like Hertz is one of the best for as noted above - you can benefit the most from this partnership with your Marriott Rewards and the occasional Marriott offer for rental cars. Many of my friends/coworkers maximize their Marriott Rewards by frequenting the Promotion Central on your profile and selecting to sign up for promotions and also the bonus promotions for rental cars and having a Marriott Rewards VISA card is a great avenue as well. My suggestion is go to Marriott site first when setting up all travel for the endless possibilities to earn the most rewards during your travel. Try it.
Hertz for me. One perk of being a MR elite member is the "Complimentary Hertz #1 Club Gold" membership per this link: https://www.marriott.com/rewards/mesOffer.mi?marrOfferId=298330&displayLink=true
It's only supposed to be for one year, but I've retained mine for several. Going straight to your car and not having to go the rental counter is such a great perk. I also just used my Hertz points for a free weekend day.
I have only used Sixt before they offer great rates people that continually usa Sixt. To sign up for a the Sixt Cards check out their website. I am now a platnium member and i get 30% my car rental everytime I use them if you rent a lot I think that they have the best deals!
Hope this helps
I am an AvisFirst person. I've enjoyed that level for a few years and always have found the cars to be clean, reliable and decent rates, but then I always re-check the rates about a week out and most of the time they've come down some. I do tend to tinker with the rate codes as well from UA, GHIN golf handicap system and a few others. The vehicle upgrades I get often at places I frequent such as PHL, SEA, SFO, RSW and PDX, yet at other locations they don't seem to happen as often.
Like dwaneclif I had a few times where I couldn't avoid the rental counter while being both an Avis Preferred and AvisFirst customer. What I found out was that Avis only would allow for one credit card to be attached to your online account so when I booked a business trip and attempted to use my business credit card for the rental I'd have to visit the dreaded counter. Once I told the boss that all my car rentals would be on my personal credit card and didn't try to change it for specific reservations, poof like magic haven't seen a rental counter again other than in Europe and Grand Cayman where they don't have offer Preferred Service.
I haven't used Hertz in a long time. In terms of the complimentary Hertz Gold membership that Marriott extends for Gold and Platinum members, I never signed up for it. I received the Hertz Gold membership offer through many outlets so it did not seem that special. I think Hertz Gold is now offered for free to everyone.
I use National because of a good corporate discount I get and automatic executive status, which allows you (as mentioned above) to pay for a midsize and then just grab any car you want in the executive aisle.
The Good: Picking up a car is very quick and it is nice picking any car you want; for people looking to rent big SUVs and minivans, I have seen many still sitting in the aisle because I think the nicer and more fuel efficient sedans go first.
The Bad: Vehicle selection really varies by airport. I think a midsize for National is like a Toyota Corolla or a Ford Focus. Cars in the Executive Aisle tend to be just one notch above (Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, Nissan Maxima, Chevrolet Malibu, Hyundai Sonata...the Toyota Prius was nice for a lot of driving on a personal trip I did recently).
The other bad is that it takes a lot of paid rentals to earn a free rental. And if you want to earn frequent flyer miles with your paid rentals, they charge you an additional fee.
The National website is also bad and is in desperate need of an update. They also seem to have separate websites for some of their special promotions and rental reservations, which makes it difficult keeping all benefits and free rentals organized.
Hertz has a nice rewards program called Gold Plus and their points don't expire. However I have found that Hertz is typically much more expensive than the other companies even using the Marriott or AAA discount codes.
The next best rewards program in my opinion is Thrifty Blue Chip. You get similar benefits like being able to bypass the rental counter and going directly to your car. The points earned however do expire after one year but the Thrifty rates are usually much less than Hertz.
I used to use AVIS, but now use Hertz Gold, and have never had a problem yet. Like the fact that after the first rental, I can bypass the rental counter and go directly to my car. I have yet to convert points into miles or rental discounts. Last week I had a brand new car--couldn't get enough of that new car smell!! I also like that after I return the car, within 30 minutes I get an electronic receipt which makes my expense report processing go faster!