When Silvercar first launched, I liked the concept a lot. A homogenous fleet of silver Audi A4 sedans with relatively predictable rates and a lot of included perks. Free airport pickup and drop off, depending on local regulations. Free in-car mobile hotspot and GPS. The ability to use local toll roads and pay only for the tolls you accrue.
All in all it felt like driving your own car wherever you happened to be traveling. (It helps that I also own an A4…) In some cases the total price was similar to what you’d pay at competitors. This is why I once suggested the cheapest rental car my be Silvercar.
That reputation is sadly starting to wear thin, as Jeffsetter alerted me. Silvercar has been adding more locations and more models, and eventually Audi just up and bought the whole outfit. They still do not have a small SUV or large sedan option, which I would prefer. The Q5 is simply too big in my opinion, though I understand the A4 may not work for all families. Don’t get me started on the Q7.
What they have added are more fees. The refueling fee has gone from $5 to $10. Those toll transponders now have a new $5 processing fee. One-way fees can range from $50 to $300. I’m surprised that it’s so high in California, where driving between Los Angeles and San Francisco is common practice.
I tolerated Silvercar’s original $5 fee to refill the tank because they promised everyone could drop off the car and only pay for the gas they used at regular prices. (Most other car rental companies will charge a higher price for gas if you return it half-empty, or a discounted price if you pre-pay for a full tank you might not use. I dislike both options.)
But a lot of the rest isn’t really valuable. SiriusXM? I have that in my own car, and I ignore the free reactivations because it turns out “ad-free radio” just means they only advertise themselves. And the mobile hotspot was never that great. If my phone doesn’t have a signal, the car won’t either.
The most appealing part of Silvercar was that they didn’t nickel-and-dime you on the things that were actually valuable, like fuel and tolls. But now they’ve taken a simple model and made it complicated, not much different from the big guys. So disappointing.