California

Lax Airport Car Rental: The best companies

by Michael Franco  |  Published March 13, 2016

There are 13 rental car companies that offer free, frequent pick-up and drop-off shuttle service at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). TravelMag.com evaluated them all and chose those that are tops in three different categories.

LAX Airport (Photo: Eric Salard via Flickr)

Once you’ve arrived at LAX, finding the shuttles is simple. Outside of the baggage claim area, on the Lower/Arrivals Level islands, look for the sign reading “Rental Car Shuttles” featuring a purple icon featuring a car and key. Wait there for your agency’s shuttle. Note that for the purposes of this article, we have only featured companies whose shuttles travel directly to and from LAX terminals automatically. There are several more rental agencies that will provide pick-up or drop-off to the Off-Airport Rental Car Terminal at LAX. So if you decide to go with an option that is not listed here, verify whether or not you’ll need to schedule a pick-up at the Off-Airport Rental Car Terminal, or if there is a shuttle directly to and from the airport.

Comparison Engines: Find the best car rental deals

Although we’ve done most of the homework for you regarding rental cars at Los Angeles International Airport, 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 policies of the agencies at LAX. Our findings are as follows.

 

Most affordable: Payless

Book at RentalCars.com

If you’re used to renting at large East Coast cities, you’ll appreciate the number of relatively inexpensive options at LAX. Payless Car Rental offers the biggest variety of affordable automobiles at the lowest prices. For our sample week’s booking, Payless had the best rates by far on economy (“Toyota Yaris or similar”), compact (“Ford Fiesta or similar”), and intermediate-classified cars (“Chevy Cruze or Similar”). If low prices are your main priority, keep Thrifty in mind as well. Look for their “wildcard” option, where the make and model of rental will be determined upon pickup. This is often the most affordable option overall, but it isn’t always available. In addition, Thrifty often has the next-best rates to Payless in the categories listed above.

Best for business travelers: Hertz

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Working travelers should look to either Enterprise or Hertz. These major companies have competitive rebates and rewards programs and make frequent shuttle stops at the terminal. While Enterprise has better rates on the full-size, standard, and premium cars that are popular among businesspeople, as well as more favorable online reviews, Hertz is better optimized to get busy people in and out of their cars as quickly as possible — a huge relief for frequent travelers coming off of long flights. Hertz Gold members can proceed directly to their reserved vehicle without stopping at the counter, utilize the “Zap Technology” service that provides quick car returns, and benefit from automated kiosks when they don’t have a reservation. Enterprise is reliable, but they don’t offer these streamlined services.

Best for luxury cars: Thrifty

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A Buick Lacrosse or a Cadillac ATS — which option more closely describes your standard for a luxury car? If a Buick sounds good to you, look to Thrifty, which has the lowest rates in the luxury class. But if you are more of a Cadillac person, and many luxury renters are, we recommend Enterprise. Enterprise is more likely to procure you a preferable automobile with prices only slightly higher than those at Thrifty. Their LAX location is also very favorably reviewed online; reliable customer service and an efficient check-out process alone may be worth the additional premium, especially to luxury consumers. Enterprise has both automatic kiosks and a staffed counter, which helps keep wait times short and satisfaction high.
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