I've rented quite a few cars in my life. I've rented from Budget, but my experience with them led me to switch to Enterprise (long story short, they went from a place that rented to under-25-year-olds without an additional fee, to a place that rented only to those 25 and up, and I found out only by accident when I called to verify my rental). I used the Enterprise rental office in Hendersonville, NC for the next two years, and always had a great experience.
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Then I moved to Arkansas, so when I needed to get to Tulsa the weekend before Christmas 2006, I decided to go with Enterprise again. Things went fine up until I actually went to pick up the car, and I found out that there was a $200 deposit on top of the cost of the rental. My Mastercard didn't have enough credit available, and I had assumed it would have been $100, as it was at the Hendersonville office.
I was completely dejected, and feeling as though I might as well forget about seeing my family for Christmas, when I passed the Hertz office near our house. I wasn't very optimistic about it (mostly because I was 2 months shy of my 25th birthday, and when I'd tried to rent from Hertz in my hometown, I'd hit the "no renters under 25" wall) but I decided to stop in so I could at least say I tried.
I was quite lucky that Christmas Eve eve eve, because not only were they willing to rent me a car, but the deposit was just 30% of the cost of the rental.
From the time I walked in the door until the time I actually drove away took about 30 minutes. The rental agent was helpful and friendly (if a little harried, as he and the other agent were also having to man the phones as they rented out cars). I was given a very new Scion XB (which was roomier than I'd expected, and fun to drive; it's about the size of a Cooper Mini) and was soon on my way. The rate was around $23/day, which was slightly higher than Enterprise's price, but not altogether unexpected when you're trying to rent a car at the last minute over a holiday weekend.
Returning the car was even faster, since I brought it back Christmas day and left the keys in the drop box.
Even though I'd considered myself an old hand at the car-renting business, I learned a valuable lesson from my experience with Hertz: always check the branch you're going to be renting from, because their policies on underage renters and deposits vary. Don't just assume that because they share a brand name, they're going to follow the same policies.
Now that I'm 25, I can rent from pretty much whichever car-rental agency I want, but I'll probably go with the Hertz in Fayetteville, Arkansas again, because they got me out of a bind, and I find their deposit to be much more affordable.