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Remember the Alamo in Hartford

Jan 13, 2010 (Updated Jan 13, 2010)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Friendly, cheapest at Bradley so far, flexible.

Cons:Focused on airports.

The Bottom Line: Alamo at Bradley International Airport has treated us well despite us being deekers to some degree.

Our oldest son Jacob goes to a boarding school in Connecticut called Pomfret. My wife and I and our younger kids have traveled to Connecticut to visit him and I have also been there twice with just him. So I've been there four times since last summer. Last time I flew to Connecticut we rented a car from Budget; however, on our two previous visits Connecticut we rented cars from Alamo. My favorite car rental agency is Enterprise and I also like National, however, Alamo in Hartford has been good to us well.

Briefly About Alamo

As mentioned my favorite car rental agency is Enterprise; however, we had some good luck with Alamo at Bradley International Airport (see my experience below). We've also rented from Alamo at other locations but it was so long ago they I cannot remember any details. However, if it had been bad I would have remembered.

Alamo is the third largest car rental agency in the United States. Alamo became famous for their unlimited mileage policy. It is owned by Enterprise Holdings which also owns National Car Rental and Enterprise Rent a Car. Unlike Enterprise Alamo is focused on on Airports, therefore they are probably more on expensive then average (you can get really good deals from Enterprise if you don't get the car from an Airport). This is the Alamo web site.

My recent experiences with Alamo

The first time we rented from Alamo at Hartford International Airport was when my son started school last September. We had a lot of stuff with us (his stuff) so we needed a larger car like a full size car or a mini van. Even though you typically save a lot of money if you rent from somewhere else than from the airport we did not want to do that because we did not have a lot of time and we did not want to make it complicated. The choices we had at Bradley International Airport were Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National and Thrifty. They are all located next to the airport (shuttle bus). However, Dollar, Enterprise, and Thrifty are a few minutes further away.

Since we needed the car for some time I wanted to make sure that we got a good price. Therefore I made my reservation ahead of time (you pay about half in my experience). Before I made my reservation I checked out the web sites of the various car rental agencies, not to make a reservation, but to check availability, the car fleets, and phone numbers. I did not want to make my reservation via the web sites and I did not want to use Alamo's prepay option. The reason was that we were flying with American Airlines which quite often is late on this route. Typically the plane is anything from one hour to one day late (but never on time) and as a result complications with reservations could arise. In should also add that I have been burned paying via web sites before (not with Alamo). It is like paying the painter before he paints your kitchen. You won't like the result. By the way Dollar had the worst web site and the rest of them (including Alamo) had more user friendly web sites.

To make sure that I got the best price I called all of them and asked them about prices as well as the price of extras. It turned out that in the end Alamo was significantly cheaper compared to all the others. When we arrived at the rental center it turned out that they did not have a full size car, however, they upgraded us to Dodge Grand Caravan at no extra charge, so I accepted. That was lucky because our stuff would never have fit in a full size car.

Alamo and National shared an office but they had different desks. By the Alamo rental desk they had a machine that you could use to get your car by inserting your reservation number and then select your options. I really don't like that; however, the guy behind the National desk was handling both Alamo and National (he just happened to be behind the National desk). He was friendly and cheerful. The fuel cost per gallon if you bring back the car empty was not as steep as Budget ($5 vs. $8) so I felt comfortable not pre buying a tank of gas. At Budget I did the mistake of doing that and ended up paying $40 for two gallons of gas. The Alamo/National agent suggested that I inspected the car and he pointed out a scratch on the car so that I could take a note of it on my papers. I should say that in the end there were no problems and I paid what I expected to pay.

The next time we flew to Connecticut to visit our son was in early November. We flew as a family (two adults, two kids). I did the same thing again and once again Alamo turned out to be the least expensive choice. The plane was scheduled to arriving late (midnight) and not all rental agencies at Hartford International Airport were open that late. However, Alamo was open from 5AM to 1AM. The plane was even later then scheduled so we called Alamo and the guy told us that he would wait for us but it got delayed even more. By midnight we had not yet left Dallas Fort Worth Airport so we called the guy again and asked if we could cancel our reservation and make it for the next day. We were going to stay overnight at the airport instead of getting the car (3AM in the morning). The guy said OK. When we arrived the next day he still had our reservation for the same price but he made it start at 10AM in the morning instead of the day before. This saved us a bundle of money. I also found out that Alamo does not only rent out cars by day. If you return the car and it has passed 24 hours you don't have to pay for a full other day unless you exceed the 24 hours by more then three hours. They have a different price for one, two and three hours. This also saved us some money because we missed a 24 hour limit by 2 hours.

As you can imagine we have reason to be fairly happy with Alamo at Bradley International Airport.

Final Recommendation

Alamo car rental agency at Hartford International Airport has treated us fairly well. We did have an as good experience with Budget. Enterprise is my favorite car rental agency; however, if the trend continues Alamo would become one of my favorites too. As a general advice you should reserve the car in advance if I can and I would not pre-pay.

Recommend this product? Yes

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