National

National offers many of the same creature comforts as parent company Enterprise, and even transfers points between its own Emerald Club and Enterprise’s Plus Program.

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5.4
Grand Score
8
User Score
5.4
Grand Score
8
User Score
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National is one of three car rental agencies within the Enterprise Holding family, and offers many of the same perks as its sister companies Enterprise and Alamo. National is unique, however, in that it has many international offerings and points programs that allow you to maximize future travel perks by transferring savings between different clubs, airlines and hotels. Unfortunately, the company comes up short on seemingly-standard options like ridesharing, airport shuttle access and disability-based options.

Grandfolk Scoring
Cost 8/10
Warranty 1/10
Ease 7/10
Customer support 9/10
Limits to coverage 6/10
Restrictions 6/10
Insurance 2/10
Extras 2/10
Cancellation 6/10
Cost
What is the average cost per day?
The average is $79/day for a full car and $68 for a compact
Warranty
Is there a guarantee?
No warranty
Ease
How easy is it to rent a car?
Easy; reservations can be made via phone or online
Customer support
How easy is access to customer service?
Email anytime, or call 7 AM-7 PM CST Mon-Fri
Limits to coverage
What services are excluded?
NA
Restrictions
Cost or difficulty to upgrade?
Changes at the time of pick up are subject to availability
Insurance
What additional coverage is required?
Unclear; be sure to check with an agent for details
Extras
What extras are available?
National does not provide disability-related tools or enhancements
Cancellation
Is there a fee to a cancel a reservation?
Yes, be sure to check with an agent for specifics
Age Score:
8
50-65 Years
8
65-75 Years
5
75-85 Years
2
85-Above

National definitely differentiates itself through its international travel opportunities and programs. Customers have the ability to earn points toward future airline, hotel and destination purchases when they rent through Enterprise, which can be an added bonus for those of us looking to travel near and far in our golden years. That said, National does not have a lot of the standard offerings that sister companies Enterprise and Alamo have, including airport shuttles, easy-access buses, ridesharing programs and carpool options. 

Additionally, National is one of the few well-known car rental agencies that does not partner with a lift-equipped van rental service, which means not only do you have to leave the website to complete an entirely separate transaction, but there is also no way for you to collect points. A potential workaround for this issue, as well as the need for assisted-driving devices, is to go through Enterprise and transfer points back over to your National account. Ultimately, National is not entirely user or age-friendly.

Health Score:
9
Great Health
7
Good Health
3
Fair Health
2
Poor Health

National, like parent-company Enterprise, waives all surrogate driver fees, which is a huge plus as the daily fee for non-disabled drivers is $12. National does Enterprise one better, too, by very clearly stating when deaf or hard-of-hearing services are staffed, as well as by providing a medical request contact number. This may let folks enjoy their travels a bit more, knowing that someone will respond in the event of an unexpected emergency. The company also has two roadside assistance telephone operators staffed, with one in the U.S. and the other in Canada.

Despite all this, National still charges a fee for most health-related services and does not offer the standard conveniences that are now ubiquitous with car rental agencies, such as shuttle services and car purchasing programs. Ultimately, National could do worse, but it could do better for those on the mend.

Pros:

  • National is a great option for international travelers and has customer service reps who speak Spanish as well as a host of other languages.
  • There is not maximum age limit for drivers in the U.S. and Canada.
  • National does not charge for surrogate drivers in the event you have a disability that prevents you, the renter, from driving.
  • The company offers a roadside assistance option for added peace of mind.
  • National’s Emerald Club lets you skip the counter, pick your own car and get on the road faster.

Cons:

  • Daily and weekly rates for both full and compact cars are some of the highest in the industry.
  • The company does not offer an airport shuttle or similar service.
  • National does not connect disabled customers directly to lift-equipped van providers and does not guarantee the availability of helpful tools like pedal extenders.
  • There are no carpool or rideshare options, which is especially troublesome with the lack of disability-based options for those drivers in need.

Bottom Line:

National falls disappointingly short of sister companies Enterprise and Alamo, despite all three belonging to the same parent company. The negative aspects are especially pronounced when it comes to overall value, ease and disability-based services. Additionally, and despiteEnterprise and Alamo being moderately priced, National has some of the most expensive per-day and per-week rental car rates on its full and compact-sized range of vehicles. 

National is also the least flexible on changes to pre-existing rental agreements, and charges hefty drop-off fees and cancellation fees when your plans change. Sure, National has a reputation for speeding customers through the check-in and check-out process, but one would be wise to double check the final bill.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Does National require a deposit?  

Yes, but the company does offer a myriad of payment options including money order, credit card, gift card, debit card and even cash. Customers should note, however, that deposits can reach, but not exceed, $500.

Can I return a car early?  

Yes, but is strongly discouraged, as there are strict cancellation fees, drop charge fees and liability conditions remaining with the customer when the car is deposited at a location after hours.   

What are the restrictions of use?  

One category in which National shines is its lax restrictions on international travel and cross-border travel, which is one of the primary perks with this agency.

More Information:

Product Details

Overview:  Despite National falling within the overarching family of car rental products owned by Enterprise Holdings, Inc., it is still distinct enough to warrant consideration as a stand-alone brand. The company is renowned for the speed with which customers can deposit their vehicles at the counter following a rental. The company even allows Emerald Club members to collect points through Enterprise in the event they find a better deal or are limited by destination offerings. That said, customers should expect rates to exceed industry averages on both the full and compact car types, at $79 and $68/day, respectively.

Package Details:  With higher-than-industry rates for daily and weekly rentals, one might expect a premium selection of fleet options and offerings. National delivers on this assumption, but only when the renter is traveling overseas, across international borders or is in need of a commercial truck. One should note, however, that the latter is only currently being offered in Canada. National does not offer airport information or airport shuttles, unlike its sister companies, and also skimps on providing disability services to drivers in need.

Add-on Services:  National makes disability-enabled services more of a hassle than necessary by putting the onus on the customer. To wit, its website simply points the renter toward Wheelchair Getaways and Wheelers Accessible Van Rentals as two possible rental options for those who may need a lift-equipped van. Additionally, National will use good faith efforts to satisfy hand control, left-foot accelerator, spinner knob and pedal extenders as soon as is reasonably practical. The company goes further and states that it may need up to two to three business days of advanced notice, or as little as eight to 24 hours, for these accommodations. 

Additional Company Details

Contract Details:  Deposits of up to $500 are required at the time of pick-up and are payable via credit card, debit, card, gift card, prepaid card, money order and cash in some circumstances. In the event the customer needs to return the vehicle after hours, he or she is still responsible for the satisfactory condition of the car.

Warranty:  National clearly states that it will only use reasonable efforts toward the accuracy and integrity of its bookings, websites and mobile apps. The company in no way offers a warranty of any kind, be it express or implied. Additionally, the company does not hold its agents responsible for any direct, indirect, incidental, special, consequential or punitive damages that may arise with any transaction either online or in person.

Accreditations:  National Car Rental ratings are very much dependent on location and franchisee, but parent company Enterprise Holdings has received a B rating from the Better Business Bureau.The average score across the National fleet appears to be a B-. That said, J.D. Power ranked Enterprise first among car rental agencies, with National a close second and Alamo an even closer third.

Company Details:  Since its creation in 1947, National has never been a true stand-alone company,as it was formed with 23 other companies. It has grown, through various partnerships, from just 60 locations in the U.S. to over 2,000 around the globe. The company is currently owned by Enterprise Holdings, which is also the parent company to Enterprise and Alamo.

Contact: 

National Car Rental
600 Corporate Park Drive
St. Louis, MO 63105
Tel: (844) 393-9989
Website: https://www.nationalcar.com/

Kate Papenberg - Senior Advisor

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