Car rental companies are based on a structure of independent operators, franchisors/ees, agencies, brokers and consolidators that is so interwoven and spaghetti-like, it is almost impossible for the consumer to understand who they are renting from and whether they are actually the operator of the car being hired! Or put another way, here are some of the key brands for British travellers. It is likely any one particular car could be rented through any number of them.

(That said, where possible you should try to rent cars for overseas use from companies based in the UK. In the event of dispute this will make it a little easier to get your money back. To avoid un-expected post-rental charges being made to your credit card for alleged damage for which you were not responsible, always try to return your rental car during office hours and get it 'signed off'. If you have to make a 'key-drop return' out-of-hours, take detailed photos of the car.

In general you should resist the car rental companies' emphasis on convenient fast-track collections and returns. It can be risky. Try to consider time spent checking a car out and in, as a security investment, making sure you and the company agree on the condition of the car when you accept it, and when you return it.)
Alamo 0870 400 4562 Pound signOne of the global leaders with 150,000 cars available from over 1,000 locations throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean. Began life in Florida in 1974 with four locations and 1,000 cars, so ("do the math!") for the last thirty years they've been expanding on average by 5,000 cars and 33 locations per annum! Must be getting something right!
Auto Europe 0800 169 6414 Long-established broker offering a wide choice of vehicles from international car rental suppliers such as Avis, Budget, Europcar, and Hertz as well as a great number of national and regional suppliers.
Avis 0800 358 1229 One of those brand names (like Hilton) with a less-than-simple corporate structure behind it. There are two completely separate Avis car rental companies presenting one face through mutual marketing agreements. Avis Rent A Car System, Inc. has 1,700 locations in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Latin American/Caribbean region. Avis Europe Plc is a UK-based company with 3,050 Avis locations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. It makes little difference to us though. You can still get cars at good rates all over the world. But it does explain why Avis in the UK was recently making such a fuss about 'new' state-of-the-art kerbside check-ins when they've been doing it at Avis locations in the U.S. for almost a decade!.
Budget Rent-a-Car 08701 56 56 56 Budget is one of the world's biggest rental companies with has more than 3,000 locations, including over 800 airports, in over 120 countries and territories. The chain has around 1,000 corporate-owned and franchised locations throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa, with 80 locations in the UK. Their new (March 04) UK website,, has just won an award for ease of use & design.
CarDelMar 0905 848 0102 Online holiday car rental broker launched in 2005. Offers rentals in almost 50 countries.
Car Hire Centre 0870 727 1727 Car hire broker offering online quotes for worldwide car hire. 0870 420 4175 Online car hire agency booking from rental companies operating in Spain, France, Italy and the USA.
Car Hire Direct 08700 55 00 44 Brand name for Autobookers, a worldwide car hire broker.
CarRentals 0845 225 0845 Pound signOnline car rental comparison website offering 50 rental brands such as Alamo, Hertz, Budget, Europcar at 4,000 locations worldwide, but focused on Europe.
Dollar Rent-a-Car 0800 085 4578 Major U.S. car rental company with more then 260 suburban and on-airport rental car locations at all major airports throughout the United States. Dollar also has international car rental locations mostly in Canada, the Caribbean & Latin America. Formerly part of the DaimlerChrysler group, the Dollar fleet comprises Chrysler, Dodge & Jeep vehicles and is a sister brand to Thrifty. We are going to see more of Dollar in the UK. The UK company that has the rights to the Thrifty brand has now been licenced to use the Dollar name.
EasyCar 0906 33 33 33 3 Launched as by easyJet's founder Stelios Hajiiannou in 2000 to offer simple car hire (one car type only) in the UK. Now, as easyCar it uses locally based car hire companies to provide a range of vehicles at 2,400 car hire locations in over 60 countries, including the USA and Australia.
Economy Car Hire 0845 450 0877 Car hire broker specialising in Mediterranean holiday car rental quotes
Enterprise Rent-a-Car 0870 350 3000 Claims to be the largest car rental firm in North America, with a UK division.
Europcar 0870 607 5000 Pound signOne of the biggies. Europcar is the largest European car rental company, with a fleet of over 200,000 vehicles at 2,650 locations in 118 different countries covering Europe, The Middle East, Africa, Indian Ocean, Central America, Mexico, Caribbean and Asia-Pacific. In 1999 Europcar became a fully owned subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group so the fleet has been made up of Volkswagen, Audi, Seat and Skoda, Mercedes, Rover, Renault and Fiat. They say their vehicles are never more than 6 months old or have more than 14,000 miles on the clock. In June 2006 VW sold Europcar to French investment group, Eurazeo.
Exclusive Car Hire 01992 444009 UK luxury car hire company offering a large selection of Porsche, Ferrari, BMW, Mercedes, Jaguar, Audi, Toyota and other luxury & performance cars. 0870 990 9312 Bet you didn't know there was such a niche company! Well there is. They are UK based, they've been around since May 2000, and they just do hire cars in Florida. They claim to offer the most competitive and flexible car hire services in Florida. You can book online.
Fourmotion 01342 304899 UK car rental from cities & airports. Simple online booking.
Guy Salmon 0870 600 7006 GS have always operated at the luxury end of the market with a saloon & sports utility fleet of Mercedes, BMW, Land Rover & Jaguar, and a performance/soft-top fleet of Mercedes, Porsche, Audi & Saab. They also offer chauffeur services. A brand of National car rental (see below).
Hertz 08708 484848 Pound signOne of the world's best-known global brands. It started in Chicago in 1918 with six Ford model-Ts and now has around 7,000 locations in over 150 countries worldwide.
Holiday Autos n/a Pound signStarted out as a cheap (and always colourful!) holiday car rental specialist covering the main Mediterranean holiday destinations. Now it is a part of and has expanded to offer low rate online rentals from local car companies at 4,000 locations worldwide.
National 0870 600 6666 Pound signNational is one of the largest car rental companies in the UK with a fleet of around 45,000 vehicles at over 170 branches. Overseas, their network covers 3,200 rental locations in over 83 countries with a fleet of 350,000+ vehicles. Guy Salmon (See above)is a National brand.
Practical Car & Van Hire 0121 772 8599 Claim to be the fourth largest car & van rental company in the UK. They have 160 locations in the UK & Ireland. 0845 508 9845 (launched June 2008) offers car hire in over 20,000 locations worldwide, including all the major airports and cities. They won 'Best Car Hire Website 2010' at the Travolution Awards.
Sixt 0844 499 33 99 (uk rental)0844 499 33 33 (holiday rental) Pound sign Stylish European car rental company launched in Germany in 1912 by Martin Sixt with seven cars. They have now separated into two brands: Sixt Rent a Car (150 rental locations in the UK) and Sixt Holiday Cars (all inclusive, pre-paid car rental from 3,500 locations in 85 countries). Sixt teamed up with Payless in Sept 03 giving customers access to cars all over the Americas, and the Kennings Car group in the UK.
Thrifty 01494 751600 Major worldwide car rental company with over 1,100 locations in 64 countries. Thrifty is sister company to Dollar Rent-a-car.
US 0845 226 8523 Specialist US car rental company with several brands: Florida Rent A, California Rent A and U.S. Rent A Car


  • does just what its name implies - offers a competitive insurance alternative to the excess/damage waiver add-ons offered by the rental companies themselves.
  • i Car Hire Insurance Car hire excess insurance that protects you against car rental excess charges. Daily and Annual policies accepted at all car rental locations worldwide.
  • If your primary reason for hiring a car is to get from the airport to your destination and back, an alternative might be an airport transfer service.

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