Independent Car Rental Reviews for Italy in 2018

Best & Worst Car Hire Companies in Italy

Fellow Travelers Give Advice on Booking the Best Italian Car Rental Deals.

Driving in Italy is not difficult or dangerous for an experienced driver, but renting a car might be! If you only search for 'cheap car hire' and comparison price websites, you can end up with a older car and bogus credit card charges. Do you know anything about Gold Car, Locauto, or Green Motion? Some internet car brokers may provide a prepaid reservation that will not be recognized at the car rental counter. 

Forget choosing the lowest price, and forget brand loyalty. Your contract will not be with the website or the broker, but with the car provider in Italy. You want the best price offered for a car hire provider with a decent reputation for operations in Italy. The brand you like at home may be a different operator in Italy.
Parking violation in Liguria
Tickets are the renter's duty, but all agencies have a stiff fee 
for providing your info on each unpaid or autovelox ticket. 

Your fellow travelers can help you choose by relating their bad experiences, and that's how we've informed the opinions expressed below. We've tried to include links to some specific complaints to give you a sampling.  We have visited Italy for decades and rented cars there more than 60 times. We follow Italian news, Car rental forums, and Italian traveler forums and we are skeptical and realistic enough to help you. (See About Us & Disclosures below). And two things before you pick-up your car, read our story: Car Rental in Italy - Pick It Up Right, and if you are not an EU citizen, get an International Driver's Permit (see below).

Our Big Time Saver Article:  Link: Independent Car Rental Price Comparisons for Italy
Lowest Risk

Avis Review    Our top pick is now the largest car rental company in Italy. Avis has excellent facilities in virtually all larger airports and cities, and Avis Preferred is now available widely. It is professionally managed, and receives the fewest complaints and the company does seem to respond to dissatisfied customers. Note: In Italy, Avis and Budget are using the exact same cars - check prices at both and take the lowest - there's no difference.
      Avis Website (English)           Avis Website (Italian)          Avis (UK) Current Offers
See About Us & Disclosures below. Using these links do not affect prices.

Budget Review    Budget is now fully active in Italy. Owned by Avis and sharing numerous facilities, it is marketed as a lower priced brand but Avis and Budget are using the exact same cars - check prices at both and take the lowest - there's no difference.. We had listed Budget as 'Small Risk' but after two years we can find no serious complaints after re-checking through April, 2016.
Budget(English)            Budget Rental (All European)              Budget Rental (Italian)
See About Us & Disclosures below.  Using these links do not affect prices.
Europcar Review   This company gets very few complaints even though it is quite large. Based in France, the company is relatively responsive, and has a loyal following. They have an excellent webpage describing the cars with customer reviews in Italian and English. We read several reports of intense 'upselling' of more expensive models in 2017, so don't be hurried at the counter and be sure the car is in the class you want.

Europcar at AUTOEUROPE (availability varies with location)  

See About Us & Disclosures below.   Using the link does not affect prices.

Small Risk

Hertz Review      This large renter is everywhere in Italy. Many renters like Hertz and there are relatively few complaints. However, the complaints get fairly bitter which makes us think there are some poorly managed corners of the company. The company does respond to complaints.
Hertz (Global) 
Hertz Current Offers (Click Discounts then Global Dest.) 

Hertz at AUTOEUROPE (varies by location)   

See About Us & Disclosures below.   Using the link does not affect prices.

Moderate Risk

Maggiore  Maggiore is a large Italian company with numerous offices, and is the largest van rental company in Italy (Blu Amico). It does a lot of business and has gotten quite a few complaints in the past most involving a decided lack of customer service. For example, they failed to correct consistent fueling complaints made at the Venice airport. In April, 2015, it was acquired by Avis/ Budget so hopefully the customer relations are improving.   Maggiore on TA Forum (prior to Avis purchase).   

Enterprise / National / Alamo Reviews  Previously serviced by Maggiore, these brands are now establishing their own presence in Italy. We don't have much info, except to note that they also operate Locauto (see below) and some customer report Alamo reservations are handled by Locauto.

Smile Rent Reviews  Smile Car Rental is a lower cost division of Maggiore above. We have not seen any traveler reports yet. Typically lower cost subsidiaries provide higher mileage cars.

Sixt Reviews       A large company that does a lot of business, but seems to have a split personality. It has a loyal following in the rest of Europe, and yet gets bitter complaints in Italy. The price quotes we've gotten don't seem to justify dealing with them. Sixt on TA Forum

Very Risky
AutoEuropa / Sicily By Car Reviews  This company is frustrating. It seems they just can't get their management act together, and the customers pay the price. We have experienced crowded counters, numerous old cars, poor or no communication, sloppy management which leads to unjustified damage claims, and some rogue branches are the bitter cherry on top. Note that Autoeuropa with an 'A' is different from the rental broker AutoEurope with an 'E'.    AutoEuropa / Dollar / Thrifty on TA Forum

Dollar Reviews       See above, Autoeuropa operates the Dollar franchise in Italy.

Keddy Reviews       Keddy is a lower cost division of Europcar above. The operations seem to be from Europcar facilities and probably will utilize higher mileage cars. As of April 2, 2016, we could not even find a website for them. We haven't located any Italian experiences, but based on UK reports, there's reason for concern: Keddy on TA UK Forum

InterRent Reviews  InterRent is a lower cost division of Europcar above that we first heard of in 2017. Or it's a broker named Inter Rent from New Zealand that has complaints from 2012 see below.

Thrifty Reviews   See above, Autoeuropa operates the Thrifty franchise in Italy, but stay tuned.

Winrent Reviews  This company is new to us and seems to use some Sixt locations and some offices of car dealers, at least in part. The legal address in an apartment building in Bolzano. The airport locations may be outside the airports in some cases. The few reviews we saw described slow service, but were otherwise satisfied.

Avoid Avoid Avoid  Is Our Emphatic Opinion.

Ace Car Rental     See Green Motion below.
ZTL's are clearly signed.
Enter only with a permit.
Advantage Reviews  When owned by Hertz, it had a very poor reputation. It was sold to private investors, though some locations may have become Firefly branches (see below). Now Advantage USA customers are handled by Europcar. We would avoid until the new owners & operators show themselves capable of changing the leopard's spots.

Autovia Review    This is a relatively small company with locations in northern Italy. It is an offshoot of a large Italian car dealer. Numerous complaints (esp. Bergamo & Verona) alleging unfair damage claims Autovia on TA Forum. and Trustpilot Reviews.

Ecovia Reviews  This is an alternate name for Autovia, see above.

Firefly Reviews      Firefly is different from Hertz. The complaints against this company would hurt your eyeballs. This firm creates furious consumers who go on campaigns to discredit the source of the abuse. We have read story after story alleging unfair practices, unresponsiveness, unjustified damage claims. The company may be owned by Hertz - but in the bizarro rental world that seems to mean little. Firefly 1 on TA ForumFirefly 2 on TA Forum

Gold Car Reviews   According to us, this company has managed to give gold a bad name. Gold Car on TA Forum 2014    Gold Car on TA 2017 We have not the adjectives to describe the misery caused by taking the lowest price.

Green Motion Reviews    This company has appeared recently with many complaints of a virulent nature. Note they are not located in or authorized at Pisa airport. Green Motion Complaint Site  Green Motion on TA Forum

Honk Car Rental Reviews   Honk seems to be either a car rental broker or a branding logo. In either case they are not an actual car rental provider.

Inter Rent Reviews Inter Rent seems to be a car rental broker with a New Zealand address, not an actual car rental provider.  In 2017 we've seen a low cost division of  Europcar called InterRent so maybe all will become clear someday.

Locauto Reviews   Originally an Italian company, it was acquired by Enterprise in Feb. 2013. The poor service and angry complaints seem to have been inherited by the new owners. Locauto Multiple Complaints TA 2017   Locauto On TA Forum 2014

Rhodium Car Rental  Rhodium is a new division of Gold Car. In our opinion, you should avoid this company as well until travelers report good experiences. Reviews This is the world's largest car rental broker, but you should read the complaints against this company before you're impressed: TA Italy Forum on Rentalcars.comAdding to our perplexity - it is owned by Priceline Group, the world's largest travel company - larger than Disney by market value!

Target Car Rent Reviews  A new company appearing lately as '' with largely negative comments. Target Car Rent on TA Forum
Recommended Approach.  We advise getting your car from a company with the fewest problems reported (Avis, Europcar, Hertz, Budget) either direct or via a reputable car rental broker such as AutoEurope. They have a good reputation and a low price guarantee; a 24/7 help line before and after the rental; easy changes and cancellation; as well as available less expensive zero excess (deductible) insurance.** Whoever you use, check out the actual car provider! We hope you'll thank us by making your reservation through the links below - which do not affect the prices offered. See our Disclosures below.
                                                         Avis Home Page (English)                    Avis.It Website    
Budget (UK)                      Budget Rental (Europe in English)           Budget Rental (in Italian)

AutoEurope(USA)                  Auto Europe(UK)          AutoEurope Long-Term Rental (22days+)

*Dangerous Approach 
Never never make a reservation if you don't know and research the actual rental car providers. Your contract will be with that provider and they will have authority to charge your credit card!  Holiday Autos may offer unidentified cars, as does Honk Car Rentals, and Kayak does on some offerings. Reserving a rental car through an airline is almost always more expensive. For the same or lower price you can know the identity and reputation of the car rental company and you can add services with a reputable major broker such as AutoEurope.

More Info

Airport Rentals. Confirm that a car rental company is physically located at your airport with our handy listing of Official Italian Airport Websites (with Authorized Car Rentals and Ground Transport links).

Price Comparisons. We have made peace with our inner nerd which can save you a bunch of effort. Link: Independent Car Rental Price Comparisons for Italy

Rental car size is hard to understand, and some companies are fuzzy with class names - what is Economy? Try these pages to start: Europcar Fleet & Reviews and Car Models by Class. The industry uses SIPP codes which help somewhat: What are SIPP Codes? Compare car dimensions here: Auto Dimensions.

Price Differences & Residency. Since residency is not citizenship and residency is not proved by a driver's license, we think you should take the best price. We have rented without a problem through Avis Italia with an Italian address though we are not residents and have US driver's licenses. Here's a link leading to two extensive Fodor's Forum discussions:  AutoEurope(US) vs AutoEurope(UK) 

IDP: International Driver's Permit  Drivers from non-EU countries are required by Italian law to provide an IDP (or an official translation) along with their driver's license. Car rental companies MAY decline to rent if you don't have one. This should be obtained only from a vendor authorized by your country's Department of State. Other websites offering to supply one are fraudulent! In the USA, the authorized entity is the AAA. In Canada, it's the CAAIn Australia, they are issued by the States: IDP info on other countries: AutoEurope IDP

ZTLs Made Easy. Be sure to learn about the restricted driving areas of Italian cities before you travel. This article Italian Limited Traffic Zones (ZTL) has all the info as well as maps of the Rome ZTL, Milan ZTL, Florence ZTL, and Pisa ZTL.

Maps. For driving around Italy, we recommend Touring Club Italiano (TCI) 1:200,000 paper maps, even if you will have a GPS or Smartphone App (or offline Google map).  It's more expensive (they're about $10. in Italy), but easier to find the maps before you arrive, - here are Amazon links to some of the TCI maps.  (See About Us & Disclosures below).

Flyer Talk is a frequent renter oriented forum. Flyer Talk Car Rental Forum

Aggrieved?   If you're an EU resident, one of these services might help.  European Car Rental Conciliation Service or European Consumer Centres.

Link: Trip Advisor Italy Forum. Use the search function to check on a rental company, and help others by posting your experience. Spoiler Alert: all the rental companies get complaints - try to judge the volume, the bitterness and the company's response, if any.

Cinque Terre Bound?  We really don't recommend driving to the villages, but after you may need a rental car. Lucky for you, we have written a killer article: Link: Where to Rent a Car from Cinque Terre? Equally useful for the Portofino area.

Buddy Can You Spare a Click? 

If we've helped, you can thank us and support this site by using these links to get quotes and/or reserve your car rental. Using these links do not change the prices offered.
 AutoEurope(US)  Auto Europe(UK) or this one to make Italy hotel bookings Booking.Com.Italy.

** The excess/deductible may already be covered as an included benefit offered by your credit card or by your home auto insurance. You can also buy a special traveler's insurance policy ahead of time, or a policy purchased from a car rental broker or by paying more to the car rental company. Read the terms offered, as all of them have significant exclusions. It's also not irrational to self-insure; the deductible in Italy is often 1,000 to 1,600 Euro and the odds favor experienced drivers who can afford some risk. 
We help everyone, NY Yankees too.
About Us & Disclosure
We are Martha and Mike from Boston- recently retired photo editors who enjoy travel, food, and helping people. We have visited Italy for three decades, and we live in Liguria part-time. We have no connection to the car rental or hotel industries, and we receive no payments or free stuff for our writing or opinions. As is internet convention, we receive the standard commission for clicks on many of the commercial links that result in a purchase. Your clicks will help support this site.

Posso vedere la camera?

Written By Mike 
Last Updated August 14, 2017.