Overall customer satisfaction with North American airport-based rental car companies declines significantly this year as a global shortage of new vehicles caused prices to increase 58% during the last nine months of the study. The J.D. Power 2021 North America Rental Car Satisfaction Study, released today — which tracked customer experience with rental car companies between August 2020 and August 2021 — finds that the average customer-cited price-per-day rental fee rose to $90.40 by the summer of this year.
During the 12 months of the study, overall customer satisfaction declined a total of 11 points (on a 1,000-point scale) from the 2020 score of 841. The average score of 830 marked a reversal of a steady incline in scores over the last six years.
“Rental car companies have been facing significant challenges, both in terms of vehicle supply and staffing—and a combination of rising costs and long lines at the airport is having a negative effect on customer satisfaction,” said Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power.
“The fact that the average price per day for vehicle rental is now above $90 sounds almost hard to believe, but I’ve seen instances in which a subcompact—booked a month in advance — cost $140 a day. Even when customers are aware of the macroeconomic challenges, their personal experiences quickly outweigh economic theory, and the result is lower customer satisfaction.”
Enterprise Rent-A-Car ranks highest in overall customer satisfaction, with a score of 861. National (852) ranks second and Alamo (837) ranks third. Enterprise regained the top spot from Hertz, which led the rankings in the 2019 and 2020 surveys.
While previous years saw a shrinking of the gulf between the highest and lowest scores, Enterprise, National, and Alamo widened the gap from their competitors this year. Enterprise’s top score almost reached its previous high-water mark of 862 in 2018. Meanwhile, the lowest score of 768 was the lowest in five years.
The 2021 North America Rental Car Satisfaction Study is based on responses gathered from September 2020 through August 2021 from 4,279 business and leisure travelers who rented a vehicle at an airport location from August 2020 through August 2021.