Silvercar: no thanks. I’m out.

There’s been some buzz lately about Silvercar, a new luxury car rental service available at select airports (currently, DFW, AUS, DAL, SFO, and LAX).

While Silvercar’s marketing is bold and their message is strong, I’m absolutely not interested.

What is Silvercar?

Silvercar only rents one type of car: the Audi A4.

They claim that they are “bringing the ‘wow’ back to car rental,” by “eliminating many of the hassles that have plagued this industry for years.”

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Each car is packed with complimentary premium features. I cut and pasted the copy below directly from their website, because I think the feeling you get when you read it is important. (Note: it really rubbed me the wrong way! Bonus points if you can figure out the sentence that pushed me over the edge.)

– Navigation system. Yes, it’s free. It’s not an upcharge. All Silvercars come with a multimedia navigation system in the car that’s ready and waiting.

– SiriusXM satellite radio. Yes, another “standard” feature of our Silvercars. (We really don’t like the word “standard” but in our case it really means “free” so we’ll go with it.)

– Wi-fi hot spot. Your Silvercar provides you with free wi-fi. Now you can download that huge file without having to hit the local coffee shop before your meeting.

 – Bluetooth pairing. Pair your smartphone with your car for hands-free calling and listening to music from your phone.

 – Toll tracking. At Silvercar, toll tracking is free. When you enter the car rental return area, we remotely search for toll fees associated with your Audi A4 and bill them to your account. We don’t charge any usage fees. We just pass on the tolls that you used – nothing else.

– Audi quattro all-wheel drive. Ready for all weather conditions.

– Leather seats. Just like your car back home.

– Road-side safety assistance. Your Silvercar includes road-side safety at no extra charge.

Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 3.03.17 PM

If you don’t have a Smartphone, you’re out of luck. Sorry.

When you rent from SIlvercar, you’ll use your Smartphone to:

  • Unlock your Silvercar
  • Assess your car
  • Pair your phone for hands-free calling and music
  • Receive your electronic receipt

Am I crazy?

I admit that I chuckled at Silvercar’s tagline: “Car Rental That Doesn’t Suck.”

I was also very intrigued by Lucky’s post about how Silvercar is currently “paying you to rent a car from them.”

However, once I started playing around with possible dates (basically, 2-3 day rentals that weren’t exclusively on the weekends), I was BLOWN AWAY by how expensive this would be. Check out the cost of this 49-hour rental (2 days +1 hour)…it’s $220!!!
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The 48-hour rental is not much better…$165 for two days?!?
Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 2.55.41 PMEven after deducting the “new customer” promo codes and referrals that are available right now (worth a total of $75), this two-day rental would cost a whopping $90.

That totally doesn’t work for me. I mean, I’m not going to be spending my vacation hanging out in the car, so I don’t need to rent a luxury vehicle that costs as much as a hotel room!

Is it just me?

To me, this idea and this company seem WAY too exclusive, like they are catering to the 1%, they know it, and that’s they way they like it. I enjoy a luxury car as much as the next gal, but paying over a hundred bucks a day for the privilege of driving one is just not how I want to spend my money.

So I’m intensely curious: it is just me? Am I overreacting? Missing something? Would you pay a premium to rent from Silvercar?

PS – The sentence that really got me was, “Leather seats. Just like your car back home.”

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Comments

  1. They’re trying to serve the upper end of the market, but as a business traveler I often see $80+/day one-day airport rentals, without all of their extras and from companies who want to give you another Ford Taurus.

    Expensive for a leisure rental? Darned straight. Out of the ballpark for a business rental, compared to what you might otherwise pay? Perhaps not.

    I rented one for $9+tax, but I don’t expect them to continually give me cars at that price or they will be out of business quickly!

  2. I definitely concur with you and Gary. I have a reservation coming up next month in LA for $9 a day with the promo code. I will rent exactly once with them and never again, since the prices are outrageously high. If they wanted not to “suck” they need to get average daily rates down to $35 per day all inclusive.

  3. I too was intrigued by this company but wait, why are taxes and fees basically another 60 bucks? That seems steep. A $59/day rental doesn’t seem steep, but they really get you on the fees! Does that include insurance?

  4. Points Pixie says:

    Gary – I do think their product (and probably their service) looks superior. However, the way they are choosing to communicate their message does not sit well with me. And, as a (mostly) leisure traveler, they lost me at $80+/day.

    Charlie – Totally. Their rates are sucky!!

    Heather – I think the fees do include insurance – but unless they include Dom Perignon and a pedicure, I am still out!

  5. They aren’t really targeting the bunch of people who try to get free or super cheap everything, so the audience here isn’t their market.

    It’s upper class travelers who just don’t want a Chevrolet Malibu, no matter what the cost. Hertz and other car rental agency’s have their prestige collections now, so there’s certainly demand.

    It seems they are doing ok so the more power to them if they can carve out a niche.

  6. Honestly, I find that the Emerald Club by National Car Rental — while not perfect — serves my needs rather well, where I can book a reservation and simply choose any car I like from the Emerald Aisle and quickly go…

    …and certainly not at the rates which Silvercar seems to want to charge.

  7. pinkisnice says:

    Ugh. They’re letting their marketing show – and they’re not trying to sell to me. Whether or not I’d be willing to pay their fees – for biz or personal – isn’t even on the table, because I don’t want to associate with or fund their pompousness. But enough of their target may lap it right up, even if it alienates a few. Not a bad strategy, and certainly well executed. I’ll give them that!

  8. Points Pixie says:

    Christopher – More power to them…if they can manage to sound less entitled.

    Brian – Exactly!!

    pinkisnice – UGH is right!! Ugh, ugh, ugh!!

  9. These rates don’t seem that bad — you picked weekend days for the rental, and I don’t know if Silvercar differentiates between weekdays and weekends, but I checked some mid-week rentals on Kayak and SIlvercar seems pretty competitive.

    For example:

    April 15: 1 day, 8am to 8am
    Silvercar: $89 rate, $130 total
    Fox Rent-a-Car: $70.24, $108.65 total (lowest price on-airport option) — Standard (Kia Optima or Similar)
    Budget: $90, $134.61 total — Standard (Ford Fusion or Similar)
    Avis: $108, $157.43 total — Minivan

    I guess this would be a good option for the Chairman’s Club/Hertz Platinum crowd although I like that Silvercar is there as an option to anyone without having to know someone or pay an exorbitant annual fee.

  10. It’s not uncommon for rental companies to charge a a full day even for a couple of hours when you go over. Sure, there can be 4-hour or 12-hour rates, but getting charged a daily rate for going over by 1 hour still happens. Whatever the merit of your other criticisms, I think it’s a bit unfair to call out the cost of a “49 hour” rental when it may actually be more reasonable for three days. You could save $55 by returning to the airport early and still have money left over after paying for a lounge day pass.

  11. I think one of the biggest issues Silvercar has, at least in certain locations (i.e. LAX and SFO) is that the pick-up/drop-off service is actually less convenient than with the big car rental agencies. (For example, the SFO location is actually sort of far away from the airport, and at LAX you have to take one of the public parking shuttles, which may not run as frequently as the private car rental shuttles.) I understand their whole concept of having a more “concierge” style car rental experience for those who are willing to pay for it; but ultimately for travelers who just want to get their car and get out of the airport, I don’t think it works (at least in these two locations).

  12. I’d argue that Silvercar is a “car rental that does suck”. I rented a Silvercar in SFO for a weekend day using the promo code and I still paid $80 for the rental. I have an issue with a company when I cannot find what exactly what taxes and fees I am paying. I couldn’t understand how their taxes/fees are SO high compared to everyother car rental company at SFO.

    In addition, I had a very long shuttle ride, coupled with being confused and not able to find the Silvercar representative. Returning the car was even worse. I had to drive into a wrong-way exit of a parking garage to return the car. There were no signs or markings for Silvercar. I literally stood there for 10 minutes. Finally I called Silvercar and someone came over with an attitude. Honestly, I should NOT have to call to let them know I am returning a car. I should be confident in the return location and there should not be ANY shuttle ride. If they are truly catering to the business and 1% market. Find a way to pick me up at the airport with the car, like a valet. Then I may be more willing to pay the outrageous “taxes and fees”. Just a thought.

  13. I think their price is fair enough to charge for a fully loaded AWD A4.
    You are definitely not in their targeted customers.

  14. Points Pixie says:

    Hua – I chose overlapping Friday/Saturday dates on purpose to get an idea of how much it would cost if I actually used the service. I love that you chose a Minivan to compare (from Avis). I’m not saying that sarcastically – I really do love it because it proves the point that Silvercar is filling a niche that seems to need filling. Thanks for the comment.

    Scottrick – That is exactly why I chose 49 hours – to see if they would give a short grace period. I wasn’t surprised to see that they did not. So I don’t think it was “unfair” – just pointing out the lack of flexibility in their policies.

    DWT – Also good to know. Thank you.

    A – Ha ha. Another reason that I will never use their service.

    Andy – I will take that as a compliment.

  15. Those rates are just the lowest for each agency that happened to show up. Avis had other rates for that day, but not for less than the minivan.

  16. LJ Wobker says:

    If you’re comparing them to a $15/day car from Dollar or Budget, that’s not the business they want to be in. But even on our corporate contract, I very often saw price quotes of $45 or so per day, and this is before the fees added on by the airports which are generally the same regardless of the brand. And if I’m going to be doing a substantial amount of driving, paying an extra $15/day to drive something really nice seems reasonable. But paying $40 more a day probably doesn’t make much sense to most people. Also remember that a lot of people who rent cars are doing so on OPM (other people’s money) and this fundamentally changes what price means to a lot of people… ;-S

  17. I use Silvercar exclusively now when I travel, have been using them since summer of 2014. Have rented in PHX, LAX, MIA, SFO, NYC. Never an issue. Will never stand in lines dealing with normal rental car hassles again. Premium service for a premium price. Ease of rental and return is worth the money for me. I want to drive in the same type of car that I have at home, which is an Audi A4. When I am in the West and going up and down mountains it pays to have a car that can handle those steep inclines and not lose power. I typically pay around $300-400 per week for a rental. You also receive discounts if you have a Visa Infinite card (and Amex Plat I believe.) I don’t travel to rough it–I want to be as comfortable as I am at home. If that’s not you’re style, rent an economy car. If you browse rates, and you rent a mid-size chevy malibu and then add in the extras silvercar provides, you’re at the same price anyway. Silvercar also doesn’t have a loyalty program, which is nice because you don’t have to run into the self entitled business traveling brats when picking up your car.

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