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(In a similar vein to this question on hotel room upgrades and this question on flight upgrades...)

Most regular car rentals agencies have various categories of car - Budget/Economy, Compact, Midsize, Fullsize, etc. The names vary from agency to agency and around the world, but the principles are similar.

Generally the "better" the category, the better the car - larger, more luxury, etc.

What tips or tricks can you apply to get a better car or better benefits than you originally booked? This might result in a "better" car, or perhaps something else such as a free satnav included, free miles included, or some other perk that improves the overall value for money equation.

Some of the tips I've noticed are:

  • Being a regular renter with that agency, e.g. status with Hertz Gold Plus Rewards.
  • Turning up to a smaller (often in-town) rental location when they only have a few cars left, which can bag you a free upgrade (although this can also backfire and you can get a dismal car!).
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To be honest I think that only having a high "status" with the company is a reliable thing, other options is just either luck or poor management of the rental company. –  Grzenio May 10 '13 at 13:18
What do you mean by "poor management"? –  Andrew Ferrier May 10 '13 at 16:48
I mean that someone in the company could have made a mistake and gave the car you ordered to someone else. –  Grzenio May 15 '13 at 19:20
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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

The most usual case when the rental companies will upgrade your car to the next better class is when there are no cars of your class available, so if you rent from an off airport office you're more likely to get a better car then when you rent from a larger office like the ones at major airports.

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Actually, I think "more usual" is having status with them. But yes, I take your point, good tip. –  Andrew Ferrier May 8 '13 at 13:59
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I once booked a compact (i.e. cheapest available) car at Avis in Germany via Internet, and included a satnav option. Because they didn't have (or didn't want to bother with) a portable satnav, I got a Ford S-Max with a builtin one.

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