The vehicle hire market is highly competitive. With so many options, knowing which company to choose can be difficult, especially if you need to hire a vehicle at the last minute. Let's look at two of the country's leading vehicle hire companies and see how they compare.
What is Enterprise Rent-A-Car?
Enterprise Rent-A-Car, commonly known simply as Enterprise, is one of the world's most prominent car rental companies. Named after the aircraft carrier piloted by its founder during World War II, the former local business is now a multi-million dollar company with thousands of sites worldwide.
Enterprise has 420 sites in the UK alone.
What is Europcar?
Europcar is a French car rental company founded in Paris. One of the oldest car hire companies in the world, Europcar serves 160 countries across the globe, with Europcar operating 147 sites in the UK.
What vehicles can you hire?
Both Enterprise and Europcar offer car and van hire. The full fleet ranges from everyday cars and vans to people carriers, SUVs and luxury cars, including Mercedes Benz and Tesla.
How do you make a reservation?
With Enterprise, it is straightforward to make a reservation:
- Enter your pick-up and drop-off location and the corresponding dates and times.
- Enter your age.
- You can then view the available vehicles, plus the price.
You can then choose if you wish to pay now or later:
- Pay now locks in the best price and allows a refund for cancellation three or more days before the pickup.
- Pay later is always more expensive, but it gives you more flexibility and free cancellation at any time.
Placing a rental reservation with Europcar is a similar process.
If you cannot hire your desired vehicle, the website will suggest nearby locations with availability.
How much is Enterprise car rental?
The cost of hiring a vehicle depends on several factors, including:
- Pick-up and return location. Hiring a vehicle from a busy location like an airport or a busy area like Tower Bridge will cost much more than hiring a vehicle in a quieter place like Norwich.
- The length of the hire.
- The vehicle class you wish to hire.
- The renter's age.
After choosing your vehicle, you may add optional add-ons, such as additional drivers, child car seats, enhanced insurance, and others that will increase the cost.
Regarding insurance, Enterprise offers excess protection for £25 per day, including damage liability waiver, theft waiver, road tax and VAT. Other rental extras include Roadside Protection, which is £10 p/day, with an additional £10 for a GPS.
How much is Europcar car rental?
With Europcar, car hire seems to be significantly cheaper.
As per the above, price does depend on several factors. However, Europcar does cost less for most vehicle types, even for premium locations such as London's City Airport.
Europcar includes a basic protection plan, including damage liability waiver, theft waiver, road tax and VAT. Roadside Assistance started at just £7 p/day, with a GPS costing £14.99.
No matter which company you choose, you should also remember to budget for tolls such as the London congestion charge, ULEZ or Dartford Crossing charge when planning your trip.
Are there any age restrictions?
Some rental companies will charge you a fee for being a senior driver. The good news is that Enterprise and Europcar do not have an upper age restriction as long as you meet their minimum age requirement.
If you're arranging a hire car for a child or grandchild, it’s good to know that with Europcar, you can hire any vehicle from age 18. However, drivers under 25 must pay a young driver surcharge. If you're looking to hire with Enterprise, you must be over 25 for vehicle hire, with a minimum age of 30 for van rental.
Age requirements may differ overseas, so please check before making plans.
How do the two compare for van rental?
Similarly to all vehicle types, van hire costs greatly depend on location, date and time, vehicle class and preferences.
Enterprise is renowned for its cost-effective rates, making it the ideal choice if you’re relocating, travelling with a group, or require additional space. Meanwhile, Europcar strongly emphasises flexibility, catering to the needs of both young and senior drivers.
What cars do they have available?
Both companies have a wide fleet of vehicles, with the most well-known small cars, vans, SUVs and luxury cars available for rental.
When you hire a car, you typically only get to choose the vehicle class. But, like a box of chocolates, you never quite know exactly what you'll get.
So, for example, you can select the cheapest class, which Enterprise or Europcar might call "Volkswagen Up or similar," but you could end up with another small car, like a Fiat 500 or a Kia Picanto.
And likewise, if you choose a "Nissan Qashqai or similar", you could end up with a Suzuki Vitara or a Kia Sportage.
When it comes to vans, they have something for every need. This includes small vans, for when you need more room in the back of your car to help your kids or grandkids move their stuff to university, and larger Luton vans, which you may use to move to house yourself.
If you prefer to drive a hybrid or electric vehicle or want to try driving one for the first time, a rental car is a great first choice, especially as these can often be the least expensive premium cars available.
Fortunately, both companies offer a great range of electric fleets of vehicles to rent.
Both Europcar and Enterprise Rent-A-Car have hybrid, fuel-efficient and plug-in vehicles. Europcar also provides handy tips on Clean Air Zone (CAZ) & Vehicle Emission Zone.
If it's your first time driving an electric vehicle and you're used to a diesel SUV, remember to look up charging points on your route, as the number of miles per full charge depends on the car used. For example, a Mini Cooper has a 145-mile range, whilst a Mercedes-Benz EQS saloon has a range of 452 miles.
How much is membership?
If you hire vehicles regularly, you may wish to pay for a membership, which gives you cheaper access to rental vehicles nationwide and access deals in advance.
The Enterprise Rent-A-Car Car Club lets you unlock cars and vans with your phone and includes the following:
- Breakdown cover.
- Damage protection.
Prices start from £3.28 p/h but depend on location. For instance, membership is more expensive if you live in a major city like London.
The membership also has other perks and benefits, such as free parking in selected locations and exclusive discounts with companies such as Beryl and Cycling UK.
Europcar does not offer a membership program, although you may be able to get discounts for your children or grandchildren if they are students or graduates. The website also hosts exclusive offers such as 7-day hire from £24 per day.
Sometimes, you may get a free pick for a more premium car at no extra charge.
Enterprise car hire vs Europcar: Which is best?
The car rental market can be costly, especially at short notice. It is difficult to truly compare both companies as prices differ according to location and availability. For instance, vans may be cheaper to hire with Europcar solely due to more availability.
The Enterprise car hire service does seem to be more expensive all around. However, the Rent-A-Car Car Club offers the option of hiring vehicles for a more affordable price.
If you’re hiring for a young driver, Europcar is a lot more beneficial. Europcar also has many more sites across the UK, which could give you more flexibility, depending on your location.
*n.b. All prices and information are correct as of August 2023.