5 Best Houston Airport Car Rental Companies — Browse Tips on Renting a Car in Houston in 2023
The Houston airport, aka George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), is massive. Serving so much of the country with flights to all around the globe, and a frequent stop for layovers, it’s no surprise that more than 40 million people pass through this airport every year.
Are you one of these millions of passengers planning to arrive at the Houston airport soon? If so, you might want to rent a car. While there are some public transportation options in Houston, if you want to get around easily and more affordably (or even explore beyond Houston), a rental car is the way to go.
To help you make the best travel choices, here’s everything you need to know about renting a car at Houston’s airport, including tips for getting around and info on the best rental car companies located at the airport.
The Vacationer Tip
Check out RentalCars.com before booking your Houston car rental.
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Which Car Rental Companies are Best at Houston Airport?
IAH has its own consolidated rental car facility for all of the rental car companies that do business from the airport. There are 10 rental car companies at the facility in total. Here are the five best from those 10 options, based on reviews from travelers like you who’ve voiced their opinions on Google and Kayak.
Alamo is a fan favorite in many destinations, due to the brand’s affordable pricing and range of services that make your rental process faster and easier. There’s a self-service kiosk, but you can also choose, at the time of booking, to skip the counter or take advantage of accelerated check-in services upon your arrival. This Alamo location additionally allows for after-hours returns.
Reviewers report that they love the service they find here and that any issues are resolved quickly. They also really like that the convenient skip-the-counter and self-service options allow for a no-touch rental experience, for those who prefer that. However, it’s worth noting that, while the customer service and amenities might be rave-worthy, there are some things that Alamo just can’t change or help with, like long waits for the shuttle to take you from baggage claim to the rental car facility. Additionally, some reviewers mention a confusing, after-hours drop-off process.
Pros: Great service, both customer-facing and otherwise.
Cons: Confusing drop-off process.
Phone: (833) 511-1743
Hours: Daily from 6 a.m. to 12 a.m.
Google Rating: 4.3 stars
Kayak Rating: 8.4 (Very Good)
For those who love the Enterprise brand (and many travelers do), nothing can beat the rental car company’s high level of service and nice selection of vehicles. However, with all the pros, there are still some downsides to renting with Enterprise. For one, you should expect to pay for that amazing service; the prices here are typically a little higher than what you might find with other companies. Additionally, this Enterprise location isn’t open as long as some of the other car rental counters at the Houston airport. The IAH location also does not offer pick-up service, though after-hours returns are an option.
Reviewers report clean, well-maintained vehicles, and a smooth pick-up and drop-off process, though many do allude to those higher costs and fees. The point? If you want top-tier service and aren’t afraid to pay for it, go with Enterprise. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option and are okay with cutting a few corners to save a buck, maybe look elsewhere.
Pros: Great service and nice cars.
Cons: High prices and fees.
Phone: (833) 628-9676
Hours: Daily from 7 a.m. to 12 a.m.
Google Rating: 4.3 stars
Kayak Rating: 7.7 (Good)
There are two main things that travelers like about the Houston IAH National Car Rental location: the cars and the amenities. For the former, there’s a nice selection of different, well-maintained cars to choose from. For the latter, you can take advantage of amenities such as after-hours return service, drop-and-go service, and the Emerald Aisle, which allows renters to bypass the counter, pick out their car from the lot on their own, and then pay a flat fee.
So what do renters at this National outpost not like? The service.
From rushed, harried staff, to flat-out rude employees, there are quite a few complaints about the individuals that customers come into contact with during the rental process. The good news, though? You can get around all that by simply taking advantage of National’s amenities, like the Emerald Aisle and after-hours returns.
Pros: Convenient amenities and a nice selection of cars.
Cons: Not the best customer service.
Phone: (833) 511-1745
Hours: Daily from 6 a.m. to 12 a.m.
Google Rating: 4.4 stars
Kayak Rating: 7.4 (Good)
Sixt is a newer car rental company in the United States, but it’s growing in popularity, and for good reason. Customers often report great experiences with Sixt, liking the pricing and car selection.
For the IAH location in particular, reviewers note the simple, quick, and easy pick-up process, as well as the courteous staff. Of course, a few issues are noted, too, such as upselling at the desk and long wait times (but these types of problems can be experienced when you book with anyone).
One great perk that comes with renting with Sixt, that you won’t want to overlook? The rental counter here opens a little earlier than some of the others at the airport’s rental car facility, which can be a giant help if your flight leaves early in the morning and you want to get your rental car back, through TSA, and to your gate with plenty of time to spare.
Pros: Easy rental process and courteous staff.
Cons: Upselling and long wait times.
Phone: (888) 749-8227
Hours: Daily from 5 a.m. to 12 a.m.
Google Rating: 3.8 stars
Kayak Rating: 7.6 (Good)
The last in our rankings is Hertz, but even Hertz’s reviews and Google and Kayak ratings are nothing to scoff at. However, that said, for your best experience with Hertz, you need to make sure you sign up for the Hertz rewards program ahead of time. The well-known, national brand is a little pricier than some others, but being a rewards member can get you extra, worth-it perks and better service.
Otherwise, membership perks aside, do note that this Hertz location is not without its issues. Unhappy reviewers report long wait times and poor customer service. Others find hidden fees that they didn’t notice at the time of booking or pick-up, realizing the true cost of their rental only after it’s too late.
Pros: A loyalty program membership gets you lots of extra bonuses with this brand.
Cons: You might not have a good time here if you’re not a member of that loyalty program.
Phone: (281) 209-6700
Hours: Daily from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Google Rating: 3.6 stars
Kayak Rating: 7.1 (Good)
The Vacationer Tip
Comparing the 5 Best Car Rental Companies at Houston Airport
Get a quick glimpse of these five best car rental companies so you know which is best for you.
|Brand/Rental Provider||Google/Kayak Rating||Types of available vehicles||Budget or Luxury?|
|Hertz||3.6/7.1||Cars, SUVs, luxury vehicles, trucks||Luxury|
|Alamo||4.3/8.4||Cars, trucks, SUVs, vans, luxury vehicles||Budget|
|Enterprise||4.3/7.7||Cars, trucks, SUVs, vans, luxury vehicles||Luxury|
|National||4.4/7.4||Cars, trucks, SUVs, vans, luxury vehicles||Mid-Range|
|Sixt||3.8/7.6||Cars, trucks, SUVs, vans, luxury vehicles||Mid-Range|
Tips for Renting a Car in Houston
Decided on which of our top five favorite rental car companies at the Houston airport you’re going to go with for your upcoming trip? Beyond knowing which rental car company you’ll be renting from, though, you’ll want to know a few other things, too, like…
How to get to the IAH Rental Car Center
As mentioned, 10 rental car companies do business inside the IAH Rental Car Center. These include:
- Dollar Car Rental
- Payless Car Rental
- Thrifty Car Rental
The rental car center itself is open 24 hours a day, but each rental car provider holds specific hours. That means, if you rent a car with one of the above, make sure that you note their opening hours for the day of your arrival, so you can pick up your car without a wait.
To get to the rental car center, you’ll need to take a shuttle from the baggage claim area. Shuttles run every five minutes between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m., and every 10 minutes between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., and the ride itself is about five minutes long. The one exception to this is the terminal D shuttle, which doesn’t run after 9 p.m. at all.
Where you go to reach the shuttle will depend on your arrival terminal. If you arrive in Terminal A, you’ll make your way to Door A-115 on the south side. However, if you arrive in Terminal B, you’ll make your way to Door B-103 on the south side. If you arrive in Terminal C, you’ll make your way to Door C-105 on the south side. Lastly, if you arrive in Terminal D, you’ll make your way to the west curb.
Once outside your terminal, look for ground transportation and rental car signs. The rental car shuttle bus will be marked accordingly and is blue and white.
How to return your rental car at Houston Airport
When you arrive back at the airport and need to drop off your car before heading to your gate, you’ll follow a similar process. You’ll drop the car at the rental car center and then take a shuttle bus to your terminal. Each bus serves a different terminal, so just make sure you’re on the right one before departing.
Your other transportation options in Houston
But if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by the whole rental car thing, and the thought of driving in a new city, that’s understandable. Luckily, there are a few other transportation options in Houston. So, while renting a car is the most convenient and sometimes the most budget-friendly transportation option when visiting Houston, it’s not your sole option.
To leave the airport (which is just over 22 miles north of downtown Houston), you can take a taxi, ride-share service, or public bus to wherever you’re headed next, whether that’s your hotel or elsewhere. Then, for getting around Houston during your trip, you can continue to use taxis and ride shares, or you can use the public transportation system.
Public transit in Houston includes a light rail system and a bus system. There’s also The Wave, a jitney service.
Houston’s car rental companies are located in a separate car rental facility situated about a 5-minute drive away from the airport. You can take a shuttle from baggage claim to this facility. If you arrive in Terminal A, you’ll make your way to Door A-115 on the south side. However, if you arrive in Terminal B, you’ll make your way to Door B-103 on the south side. If you arrive in Terminal C, you’ll make your way to Door C-105 on the south side. Lastly, if you arrive in Terminal D, you’ll make your way to the west curb. Once outside your terminal, look for ground transportation and rental car signs. The rental car shuttle bus will be marked and blue and white.
Houston is a sprawling city and having a rental car will make getting around so much easier. However, if you don’t rent a car, you can use public transportation if you’re staying around downtown Houston.
Fifteen different toll roads run in and around Houston, so your chances of driving on one are pretty substantial. To pay your tolls, you can either pay them through the rental car company, who will use a pass to track your toll road movements and charge you accordingly, or you can purchase a personal toll transponder, so you can be charged automatically, every time you drive on a toll road. If you go with the latter option, just be sure to let the rental car company know that you plan to use your personal transponder.
Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.
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