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.