Maryland

Baltimore Airport Car Rental: The Best Companies

by Michael Franco  |  Published November 18, 2014

There are eight car rental companies at the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshal Airport (BWI). TravelMag.com evaluated them all and chose those that are tops in three different categories.

BWI Airport (Photo: J. Cohen via Flickr)

BWI Airport (Photo: J. Cohen via Flickr)

To get to BWI’s rental car center upon arrival, simply follow the rental car signs to the shuttle buses located on the terminals’ lower levels. The airport has one shuttle bus that takes you to all of the rental car agencies. Buses operate 24 hours a day and take about 10 minutes to reach the rental car facility located at Stoney Run Road and New Ridge Road.

Comparison Engines: Find the best car rental deals

Although we’ve done most of the homework for you regarding rental cars at Baltimore/Washington International, it’s always best to do your own comparison shopping to find the best deals. For that, we recommend two reliable, easy-to-use online booking services: CheapCarRental.net and BookingBuddy.com.

The results of our review

To determine which rental car companies offer you the best options across our three categories, TravelMag.com carefully evaluated the services, fleet availability, reviews and polices of the agencies at the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshal Airport. Our findings are as follows.

Most affordable: Alamo

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It’s a really close call at this airport for the budget award. Alamo, Budget, Dollar and Thrifty all offer cars in the budget class that differ sometimes by mere pennies. We’ve chosen Alamo in this category at BWI because of its unique offering of the cheapest larger-sized vehicle — a mini van, which the company says is a Dodge Caravan or similar. Another good bet here would be Budget that offers a bit of fun in its lower-priced range in the form of a “mini” class that includes the Fiat 500 or similar. In our sample booking, it cost just four cents more than an economy car at Alamo, but it might be a lot more fun to drive than Alamo’s Chevy Spark or similar offering.

Best for business travelers: Hertz

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In Zagat’s annual rating of car rental companies, Hertz emerged at the top of the list as the best agency for business travelers, so if you’re traveling to Baltimore or Washington for work, consider getting your car from them. Hertz offers their Gold customers the “Carfirmation” service, which confirms reservations through text and emails and alerts travelers to the locations of their cars so that they can skip the check-in counter. It also shows other cars available and lets customers choose the one they want right from their mobile device. Additionally, the company provides “Zap Technology” which is a quick check-in process when the cars are returned. They also offer a service called “Acceler-Rental,” which allows drivers to rent a car from an automated kiosk even if they don’t have a reservation, which again, eliminates the need to stand in a lengthy line at the check-in counter.

Best for luxury cars: Budget

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It might seem strange that a car rental company called “Budget” would lead in the luxury market segment, but that’s who we’re giving this category to. It’s not because they have the best prices on all cars in the luxury category (they’re actually pretty much tied with Alamo, Dollar, Thrift and Enterprise), but because they win in the premium SUV category. In fact, only one other company offers this type of car — described as a Chevrolet Suburban or similar — and that’s Hertz, but their price is significantly higher, so the prize goes to Budget.

Getting to the city
Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshal Airport is surrounded by a series of major highways, so it’s easy to access a variety of points when leaving. To get to Baltimore, take Interstate 195 West and take exit 2A for 295 North, which will lead you into town. To get to Washington, take I-195 West, then take exit 2B for 295 South. Exit onto US-50 West, which continues into D.C.