Silvercar: A Quirky New Way to Rent a Car... and It's a Good Deal

by  Alex Schechter | Oct 9, 2013
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Road trip / monkeybusinessimages/iStock

There are cheaper ways to get around a city than renting a car. Sometimes we'd rather cut costs by using public transportation (a more direct way of experiencing the city anyway), or hitching a ride with friends (cheaper, and more fun!). However, if we had to name one place that requires a little extra deliberation when it comes to getting around, it's car-obsessed Los Angeles.

Not surprising, then, that LAX airport was announced as the sixth and latest outpost of Silvercar, an upstart car rental company whose distinguishing feature is to simplify the booking process as much as possible with a user-friendly, tap-and-go app.

Oh, and every car in the Silvercar fleet is a silver Audi A4.

Each one comes outfitted with free navigation system, SiriusXM radio, free WiFi, bluetooth pairing, and leather seats. On top of all that, fuel is priced at a local premium rates, so instead of spending, say, $6 a gallon, you'll only pay around $3.75, plus a flat $5 fill-up fee.

Best of all, no paperwork or desk agents are required to book through Silvercar – you simply enter your information, make the reservation, walk up to the car, and use your smart phone to unlock the door. It's like ZipCar, but with a nicer set of wheels.

Silvercar's daily rate starts at $89 on weekdays, and $59 on weekends, which is only $20 more than the cheapest car available from Hertz on a weekend in October at LAX, and $40 more than Enterprise. You could argue that Enterprise is a better option for budget travelers simply because you're paying less. But take into account all that a Silvercar rental includes (the in-car amenities, the reasonable fuel charges, the hassle-free booking, and, of course, the car itself), and it quickly becomes evident that Silvercar is the better deal.

Though Enterprise doesn't offer Audi A4s, a desk agent explained that the closest alternative would be a Volkswagen Passat, which costs $15 to upgrade from a standard full-size car ($30). That's a starting rate of $45, which, yes, is still lower than Silvercar, but involves a more time-consuming booking process, and, at the end of the day, you can never guarantee exactly what car you're going to end up with until you show up at the rental center.

For picky drivers, or simply those who like to cruise in style (this is LA, after all), Silvercar is sure to be an instant success – with a booking process that just involves a few taps, you could literally book a car in your sleep. And, depending on how much of a car lover you are, could be a dangerous side effect of this new service.

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