Rental-car customer satisfaction grows, despite slightly higher prices

Rental-car customer satisfaction grows, despite slightly higher prices

Renting a car feels novel and exciting when you’re 25, but after several years of getting “or similar” vehicles, the rental experience can feel pretty stale. That said, even the most jaded travelers have favorites, and J.D. Power’s 2023 North American Rental Car Satisfaction Study showed that the rental industry is enjoying an uptick in customer opinion that might not last with the current labor and economic instability.

J.D. Power surveyed 8,632 businesses and individuals who rented a car at an airport over the last year for the study. Individual questions were given a score on a 1,000-point scale, and overall satisfaction saw a 14-point jump since the 2022 study. The increase is due in part to stronger inventory levels and production coming out of the pandemic, but the UAW strike may have a negative impact going forward.

Michael Tayler, J.D. Power’s managing director of travel, hospitality and retail, said, “The post-pandemic period has been tough for North American rental car companies and their customers, but now that things have stabilized, customer satisfaction has started to increase significantly. Given the tight correlation we see between vehicle availability, price, and customer satisfaction, it’s going to be important to keep an eye on the UAW strike as a potential supply chain issue that could negatively affect customer satisfaction during the course of the next year.”

The study also ranked individual rental car companies by their customer satisfaction scores, with an average satisfaction of 843 across the industry. The top eight companies ranked by score include:

Enterprise: 866
National: 865
Alamo: 862
Hertz: 845
Avis: 825
Budget: 822
Dollar: 817
Thrifty: 808

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Last year’s rental car satisfaction study found a self-reported average per-day price of $90, and the 2023 survey yielded a $91 average price. Despite that, rental car companies have had more complete vehicle inventories since the pandemic-related production delays have subsided. The companies’ work on customer service paid off with the increase in satisfaction, but the road ahead could be bumpier than expected if the strike drags on much longer.