How I Made $12 on My Audi Car Rental, And How You Can Too!

Earlier in the month I write about my upcoming $9 Audi car rental.

I’ve just rented from Silvercar for the first time (and it did cost me $9+tax, or $13 all-in for the rental day, plus a referral credit so I’ll make $12 net) and thought I’d share the experience. Short answer, it was fantastic.

Silvercar rents silver Audis (hence, silver car). Although it is possible right now to get very cheap rentals from them, rent on the weekend when they’re cheaper and use promotion codes, the idea is anything but cheap. This isn’t your bargain basement leisure rental company, it’s a business travel alternative in a limited number of markets.

When airport Avis, Hertz, etc. are pricing at $80 a day Silvercar is a good option because you’re going to pay those sorts of premium prices but you’re going to get a premium experience.

I think there’s some confusion out there because leisure renters are seeing the occasional dirt cheap price, but then they search and it’s expensive and are shocked. You can use it now as a price-sensitive leisure rental, but that’s not its purpose.

I attended the Austin MegaDO frequent flyer gathering, but unfortunately only for a day because of work constraints on the front end that kept me in the office, and a business trip I had to get to early on the back end. Since it was just a single day’s rental, and in Austin (one of Silvercar’s limited cities), it was the perfect time to try out this new car rental alternative.

Silvercar is only in Austin, Dallas (DFW and Love Field), Los Angeles, and San Francisco). They had been at Houston Hobby, but that didn’t last long.

  • Silvercar will give you $50 off your first rental.

  • And then when you register you can add the referral code of an existing member. You and the referrer will get a $25 credit once you rent. Oddly, this doesn’t credit automatically to your account but is sent to you by email. My referral code is GLEFF, anyone can use that and get a $25 credit after renting, you’re also welcome to leave your referral code in the comments.

  • My one-day rental priced at $59. Taking $50 off meant $9 plus tax, $13 all-in. And then with my $25 credit for being referred by a reader, I’ll net $12 (requires me to make a future rental, of course).

Their model is an upscale vehicle (although not a top-end Audi, it’s a whole lot better than getting another darned Taurus), and no nickel and diming. The car comes equipped with wifi, GPS mapping, and satellite radio — all included. You also get free toll tracking — you pay what you use without a fee. And they’ll refill the gas tank for you for just a $5 charge, market rate for gas. In other words, it’s an all-in premium experience that other companies don’t offer.

Here’s how it works. You have to have a smartphone to rent from Silvercar. Upon landing in Austin, I opened the app. It knew I had a reservation and pulled up a screen of instructions. There was a button to text them and let them know I had arrived. Then I was instructed to walk outside on the departures level, to the end where Delta and Alaska counters are and the sign for off-airport rentals.

I walked from the plane to the curb, and still had 5 minutes to wait for a courtesy car to pick me up.

I was greeted by a friendly employee in the driver’s seat who drove me the couple of minutes to the temporary Silvercar lot. I was told they would be moving in a few days (and that if by chance it happened while ,my rental is out they’d text me, though the permanent lot is just down the street).

I’m used to rental car lot employees like Louis CK describes here:

In contrast, Silvercar’s seemed like they would do anything to bend over backwards. Since it was my first Silvercar rental I had to show my driver’s license, I guess that proved I was me and that I actually had one. He didn’t do anything with the license, though, just looked at it along with my credit card. Then he showed me what to do. Just press the button on the app to start the rental, place the phone next to the QR code on the car’s windshield and it would unlock the vehicle (and pop the trunk). Basically this works on any car in the lot that isn’t already checked out, but one car was already under an awning presumably for me.

Here’s the temporary lot, the trailer is the office — it’s very ‘Austin’, you could mistake it for a food truck.

Quickly I was on my way in the Audi after having a quick look at the controls and srolling through Sirius FM.

Overall, a sharp car and I appreciated the smooth rental experience.

On the way back, the car has the lot’s location pre-programmed into the Naviation so a couple of buttons and I was on my way. I pulled into the lot and an employee immediately scanned the car, I had a receipt by email in seconds, and we swapped seats. I got into the passenger side and he drove me back to the airport in the car I had rented. No need to transfer luggage, no rental buses. The lot is close, the return actually really didn’t take any longer than if I had pulled up to a rental lot in Austin right across from the terminal.

Unquestionably I would rent from Silvercar again… when the price of a rental from one of the major agencies is especially high and I’m landing at a Silvercar location… or when I have a great promotion code. I’m not sure I’d pay Silvercar pricing when they’re getting $60+ for a great car and great experience when National wants $25. I’d want to, I’d like it better, but I’m not sure I could justify the incremental cost out of pocket.


About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Pingbacks

  1. […] Sivercar, the all-Audi rental company which includes wifi, tolls (you pay only actual toll charges), and gas refills (for a flat $5 fee you pay market rate), is adding Denver in August. They’ve just added Miami and Phoenix on top of existing Austin, Dallas, Los Angeles, and San Francisco locations. See How I Made $12 on My Audi Car Rental, and How You Can Too. […]

Comments

  1. Great post!

    I assume your fee does not include insurance like CDW. Do you know if your insurance company (or a typical insurance company) covers for an Audi?

  2. Thanks for alerting me to Silvercar — I used them a week ago in Dallas and had a great experience.

    One thing though — you say you have to have a smartphone, and that’s not true. They just used one of their own iPads to scan my car and off I went.

  3. Great info. My only quibble is, when was the last time you actually got a $25/day rate at National? Enterprise, sure, but I don’t think I’ve seen a daily rate less than $45/day from National in the last two years (at least at LAX where I typically travel for work). Makes Silvercar that much more appealing…

  4. Thanks!

    I have confirmed $50 first time renter credit, please consider using my referral code:: mrpickles

    Also, once registered you often get offers by email from Silvercar for substantial discounts throughout the year. I heard a rumor that they will be opening in Chicago. (Shhh!)

    February’s offer was one free day rental by March 5th and one free day of treatments at a Salon in San Francisco or Beverly Hills. Sign up at http://www.silvercar.com and use a referral code of your choice.

    You can also create an account for you and your significant other to use on two consecutive days, you just have to check in and then check out again, for some this might be worth the savings.

  5. UPDATE: It turns out my code is not a referral code but rather a promo code that is entered when you make a first time reservation, you will get the $50 off.

    This may be stackable, not sure but worth the try.

  6. I tried to rent from National at SFO a couple of weeks ago.
    In spite of my emerald aisle executive status, my quote was $258. for ONE day! Fortunately I had a couple of free days earned or I would have just stuck to public transport.
    Maybe Silvercar next time.

  7. We have a trip trough SFO and the cheapest we can find from a name brand agency was $120/day and Silvercar wants $64/day. Easy choice!

  8. Thanks! Cancelled my Hertz reservation for my trip on Monday to Austin and made a Silvercar reservation with your referral code! Excited for this, especially the no-hassle fill up will be so nice, it’s always such a hassle to find a gas station in an unknown area.

    I wouldn’t mind if anybody used GNIJS as referral code 🙂

  9. Wow, what a breath of fresh air this business trip has been…

    I exclusively rent from Hertz, but their website was down for three days and when I finally called them they had no cars at SFO. I hadn’t noticed that Silvercar was here!

    I was able to book one at the last minute, and used your referral code. I have an Audi Q7 at home so it was nice to have a similar vehicle, and it’s a lot better than what I usually get from Hertz. I’ll definitely rent from them again.

    And now I’m in the Centurion Lounge here for the first time, which is night and day compared to the United lounge down the hall. I think I’ll have to pick up a Platinum card again.

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