Thrifty Vs. Hertz: Which Car Rental Company Is Better?

When looking to rent a car, two of the biggest names in the industry are Thrifty and Hertz. Both companies have been around for decades and have global reach, but they also have some key differences that customers should consider when deciding between them.

This comprehensive guide will compare and contrast Thrifty and Hertz across several factors to help you determine which company may be better for your rental needs.

A Brief Comparison Table

PositioningValue-driven, budget-friendlyPremium, luxury
Rental Rates15-30% less expensive on averageMore expensive base rates
Vehicle SelectionFocus on economy carsRange of luxury vehicles also offered
Location Availability1000+ locations globally10,000+ locations worldwide
Vehicle ConditionAverage fleet maintenanceAverage fleet maintenance
Reservation PoliciesMinimum rental age 18, 4 hour rentalsMinimum rental age 20, 1 day minimum
Customer ServiceVery good, emphasis on friendlinessExcellent, more white glove service

Overview and History



Thrifty Car Rental was founded in 1958 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It pioneered the concept of car rental franchising. Thrifty became known for specializing in a more budget-friendly segment of the market compared to some other major brands.

In 1985, Thrifty was acquired by Chrysler and operated under their Pentastar Transportation Group. After undergoing financial difficulties, Chrysler sold Thrifty to Volkswagen AG’s VWE Americar division in 1989.

In 2012, Thrifty was integrated into Hertz’s operations after Hertz acquired its parent company Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group for $2.3 billion.

However, Thrifty continues to operate as a separate brand under the Hertz corporation. Thrifty focuses its marketing on value, affordability and providing a more economical rental option compared to Hertz. As of 2022, Thrifty has over 1,000 rental locations in 77 countries.


The Hertz Corporation was founded in 1918 by Walter L. Jacobs in Chicago. He started the company with just a dozen Model T Ford cars. The name “Hertz” comes from John D. Hertz, who bought the company in 1923 and expanded it into a nationwide operation.

In 1967, Hertz became a subsidiary of RCA but was later spun off as an independent company again in 1987. Hertz expanded globally over the following decades, acquiring other brands like Dollar and Thrifty along the way.

As of 2022, Hertz operates over 10,000 corporate and franchise locations across North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia, Australia, Africa and the Middle East.

Hertz aims to be a premier luxury brand in the car rental industry, providing high-quality vehicles and superior service levels. They focus less on the budget market than value-oriented brands like Thrifty.

Also Read: Comparison Between Avis And National.

Thrifty And Hertz: Compared In Detail

Vehicle Rental Rates and Types

One of the biggest differences between Thrifty and Hertz is the general price point of rentals. Thrifty markets itself as a lower-cost option, while Hertz is positioned as a more upscale, premium brand.

On average, Thrifty’s rental rates will be 15-30% less expensive than comparable bookings with Hertz. However, both companies offer a range of vehicle types across compact cars, sedans, SUVs and luxury vehicles. The specific vehicle makes and models may differ between the two brands based on their target demographics.

Thrifty’s lower prices make it attractive for budget-conscious travelers. They offer small cars starting around $35-55 per day on average. For frugal consumers or those looking for a basic vehicle, Thrifty can be the most affordable choice.

In contrast, Hertz typically targets business and luxury travelers who prioritize comfort, amenities and high service levels. Their rental rates reflect this premium positioning, with small vehicles starting around $55-75 per day. Upscale rides like luxury sedans and convertibles have average prices of $100-250+ per day at Hertz locations.

So in terms of base rental rates, Thrifty comes out as the clear value option. But Hertz offers access to higher-end cars for those willing to pay more. The rate comparison should be a primary factor in choosing between the brands for most renters.

Location Availability and Convenience

Due to Hertz’s acquisition of Dollar Thrifty and the company’s larger size, Hertz has significantly more corporate rental locations worldwide. Hertz boasts around 10,000 worldwide locations vs. just over 1,000 Thrifty outlets currently.


This gives Hertz the advantage regarding location availability and convenience for customers, especially in North America and Europe.

You’re more likely to find a Hertz outlet close-by at major airports and urban transportation hubs. Thrifty has more limited reach, with their stores focused in areas with higher tourist demand.

So if convenience and proximity are priorities, Hertz may be the easier option. The larger store network provides broader coverage for travelers who need to pick up or drop off rentals in various locales.

But Thrifty can still be a good choice for travelers sticking to major vacation destinations where they have a significant presence.

Vehicle Condition and Maintenance

When it comes to vehicle quality and dependability, Thrifty and Hertz are fairly comparable. Both corporations operate large fleets with a mix of newer and older model vehicles.

Maintenance standards are generally industry-typical, with cars being retired after hitting certain mileages or age limits.

In consumer surveys and reviews, Thrifty and Hertz earn “average” scores in terms of vehicle condition. Customers of both brands report the occasional issues with cleanliness, mechanical problems or cosmetic wear and tear.

But these kinds of issues can reasonably be expected when dealing with rented vehicles driven by hundreds of strangers per year.

Neither company stands out as superior for vehicle quality or maintenance practices. Renters should perform their own inspection of any car, regardless of brand, before driving off the lot.

So this factor is essentially a wash when weighing Thrifty against Hertz.

Also Read: Differences Between Sixt And Hertz.

Reservation and Rental Policies

The reservation and rental process through both companies is typical for the industry. Customers can book online, through a mobile app or by calling a reservation center. Both Thrifty and Hertz offer loyalty programs where members can earn points towards free rentals or upgrades.

Upon pickup, renters need to provide their driver’s license, confirmation information and a credit card for the rental agreement. Standard liability and collision/damage waiver insurance is optional when booking or at the counter. Fueling policies vary, but both brands offer “return full” and pre-paid fueling options.

There are some slight policy differences to note:

  • Hertz has a higher minimum rental age of 20 vs. Thrifty’s minimum of 18.
  • Thrifty offers shorter minimum rental periods of 4 hours vs. Hertz’s typical 1 day minimum.
  • Thrifty has more customizable “pay now” rates while Hertz emphasizes prepaid bookings.

Overall, the reservation and rental processes are very similar. Experienced renters will feel comfortable with either brand.

But Thrifty does offer greater flexibility for younger renters and those wanting shorter rentals or dynamic pay-now rates.

Customer Service and Support

Providing quality customer service is a key goal of both Thrifty and Hertz. In general, Hertz focuses more on white glove service befitting its luxury positioning, while Thrifty emphasizes friendliness and efficiency.

In customer reviews, Thrifty earns slightly higher marks for agent helpfulness, courtesy and prompt problem resolution. Wait times contacting their customer support tend to be shorter as well.

However, Hertz service is still respectable, and they have the advantage for service availability thanks to more locations.

Ultimately, both brands aim to deliver satisfactory service at their respective price points. For premium service, Hertz has the edge.

But Thrifty customers report very good experiences as well considering the affordable rates.

Also Read: Comparison Among Avis, Budget And Enterprise Car Rental.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Does Hertz status apply to Thrifty?

No, Hertz and Thrifty have separate loyalty programs and status tiers. Hertz status benefits like upgrades cannot be applied to Thrifty rentals. You would need to earn Thrifty Blue Chip status for perks with Thrifty directly.

What is the best company to rent my car?

The best car rental company depends on your needs and preferences. For affordability, Thrifty is hard to beat. Hertz is better for luxury vehicles and premium service. Weigh factors like price, location convenience, vehicle selection and brand reputation when deciding.

What’s the difference between Thrifty and Hertz?

The main differences are that Thrifty is a more budget-oriented brand while Hertz is luxury and premium focused. Thrifty rates are lower and offer better value overall. Hertz has more worldwide locations but is pricier. Vehicle condition and policies are similar, so it mostly comes down to rate comparison.

Is Hertz Thrifty dollar the same company?

No, Hertz and Thrifty Dollar operate as separate brands under Hertz Global Holdings Inc. Thrifty focuses on value while Hertz targets premium renters. The brands have distinct pricing, policies, vehicle fleets, loyalty programs and locations. But reservations on either site can be managed through a shared Hertz account.

The Bottom Line

When choosing between Thrifty and Hertz for your next rental car, it’s most important to consider your budget and needs. Thrifty is the way to go if you want the most car for the least money. Despite being owned by Hertz, they operate independently and offer cheaper rates.

However, Hertz is a better choice if you desire high service levels, luxury vehicles, specialized offerings like convertibles or sports cars, or just the prestige of their premium brand. You’ll pay more, but the higher quality experience may be worthwhile.

Ultimately, Thrifty excels on value while Hertz wins on luxury. Travelers seeking an affordable and efficient rental experience are well-served by Thrifty. But Hertz delivers comfort, amenities and global convenience for those who want to rent in style.

By understanding their key differences in pricing, vehicles, locations and service, you can make an informed decision between these industry leaders.

Whichever you choose, inspect your vehicle thoroughly and be a safe, responsible renter. Enjoy the convenience and freedom of renting, and arrive at your destination relaxed and ready for adventure.

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