New York City

JFK Airport Car Rental – The best companies

by Michael Franco  |  Published April 3, 2016

There are ten car rental companies with a presence at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). evaluated them all and chose those that are tops in three different categories.

JFK Airport Terminal 1 (Photo: Eric Salard via Flickr)

To locate your rental when you arrive at JFK, board the AirTrain, public transportation provided by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The AirTrain operates in and around JFK 24 hours a day, and is free to ride within the airport. Take this complimentary lift to Federal Circle station, where rental car offices and shuttle buses operate. Shuttle schedules vary between rental companies, but most offer free, frequent service to the Federal Circle station. Most companies have a location within 5 miles of the airport, but don’t let this proximity fool you. Between the AirTrain ride, the shuttle, and big city traffic, make sure to leave yourself plenty of time to procure your rental.

Comparison Engines: Find the best car rental deals

Although we’ve done most of the homework for you regarding rental cars at Kennedy 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: and

The results of our review

To determine which rental car companies offer you the best options across our three categories, carefully evaluated the services, fleet availability, reviews and policies of the agencies at LAX. Our findings are as follows.


Most affordable: Thrifty

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Your best bet for an affordable rental at JFK appears to be Thrifty, with Payless and Enterprise tied for an extremely close second place. These three companies offer economy, compact, intermediate, standard, and full-sized cars at significantly lower rates than other national competitors. For our sample week’s booking, Thrifty rates were cheaper by as much as 40%. It’s worth noting, though, that for the lowest prices, Thrifty may determine the make and model of your car upon pickup. Other companies seem to adhere more strictly to certain categories. While Payless considers an economy car to be a Ford Fiesta or similar, comparably priced Enterprise and Budget options put Nissan Versa and Ford Focus, respectively, in the same class. You might be able to get a preferable car from Enterprise or Budget for just a few dollars more than Thrifty or Payless.

Best for business travelers: Hertz

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Large airports usually mean longer lines — at check-in, security, boarding, and at the car rental counter. Hertz is the best choice for frequent travelers looking to cut down on the latter. Members of their Gold program are offered 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. These perks helped Hertz top Zagat’s list as the best agency for business travelers.

Best for luxury cars: Budget

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Budget has the lowest prices in the premium and luxury categories, just edging out Avis’s prices on similar vehicles. If Budget does not have your preferred car available, Avis will likely have a comparable — or higher performance — make and model for a slightly greater expense. This slightly higher cost could seem especially worth it to luxury consumers. For instance, Budget’s reference point for a premium car is a Ford Taurus Limited, while Avis’s is a Chrysler 300. Both list a Lincoln MKS as their representative model on the luxury level.