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' or use comparison price websites, you can end up with a bogus damage claim on your credit card or a prepaid reservation that is not accepted at the car rental counter! Do you know anything about Ecovia, Goldcar, Locauto, or Joyrent?

Inexpensive website facades have led to an explosion in internet brokers and car rental companies. Large car hire brokers advertise heavily and forge alliances with airlines and other travel operators to attract customers but some of these brokers (including Rentalcars.com or Cartrawler.com) have not adequately vetted the car rental companies, in our opinion. QED: Goldcar on The Sun.co.uk

DO NOT RESERVE A CAR UNTIL YOU KNOW & INVESTIGATE THE ACTUAL CAR RENTAL PROVIDER.
See our RECOMMENDED APPROACH below.

So forget choosing by price alone, 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 handled by 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).

Please do 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 footer note on how (we recognize that you may have rented often without an IDP before, but it is the law in Italy and it can be used as a reason to refuse a rental due to lack of proper 'documents').

A Time Saver (dated but useful) :  Link: Independent Car Rental Price Comparisons for Italy

Lowest Risk

Avis Review    Our top pick is now the largest car hire company in Italy. Avis has excellent facilities in virtually all larger airports and cities, and Avis Preferred membership makes for a quick pick-up in most locations. It is professionally managed, and receives the fewest complaints and the company does seem to respond to dissatisfied customers. Avis now has a guaranteed automatic transmission car program in four cities.  Note: In Italy, Avis and Budget are using the exact same cars - check prices at both and take the lowest - there's no difference.
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Avis Homepage (£)        Avis (£) Special Offers         Avis Homepage (€)          Avis (€) Special Offers

       Link: Avis Homepage (£) Automatic Transmission Guaranteed Booking*
   See About the Authors below. 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 three years we can find no serious complaints after re-checking through March, 2018.
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Budget Homepage (£)      Budget (£) Current Offers      Budget (£) Rent-for-7 / Pay-for-5 & 10% less with Prepay                                         
See About the Authors below. 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.
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See About the Authors below. These links do 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 - such as this Venice Rental Complaint 2018. This makes us think Hertz has some poorly managed branches or franchisee locations. The company generally does respond to complaints. There is Gold  Counter (Membership) service at major airports and cities to provide express service.

 Hertz Italy Homepage (EN/IT)                    
                            
See About the Authors below. This link does not affect prices.

Moderate Risk


Maggiore Reviews
  Maggiore is a large company with numerous offices, and is the largest van rental company in Italy (Amico Blu).  In 2015, it was acquired by Avis/ Budget and customer service has improved somewhat, but complaints of insurance overcharges are numerous lately. Be sure that the insurance choice on the digital document you sign is what you want and get a copy. At least one reviewer clains his document was changed afterwards. On the good side, complaints of unfair damage and fuel charges have become scarce. Maggiore -Bari Insurance on TA Forum 2017   Maggiore -Venice Fuel on TA Forum 2014 (prior to Avis).   

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.

Sardinya Noleggio / Sardinia Rent-a-Car Reviews A low-cost operator on Sardinia that seems to satisfy most customers with not-quite new cars. The complaints we found were not major. Sardinya Reviews TA Forum

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

Winrent Reviews  This company is relatively new  and uses some Sixt locations and some offices of car dealers, at least in part. It is likely a lower cost branch of Sixt as the website began in 2013 as part of sixt.it.  The airport locations may be outside the airports in some cases. The few reviews we saw described slow service, but were otherwise satisfied.

Very Risky

AutoEuropa Reviews
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

Centauro Rent a Car Reviews  We don't have much information since they are fairly new to Italy, and there are not a lot of reports. They are a Spanish company where in our opinion they have an average reputation. However, the one Italian report we saw was eye-opening:  Centauro Italy on Trip Advisor 2018.

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

Firefly Reviews   Previously on our avoid list, we have not seen a serious Italian complaint for some time. The company is owned by Hertz and the cars tend to be somewhat older. In the past, we have read story after story alleging unfair practices, unresponsiveness, unjustified damage claims. Time will tell if the company has turned the corner, as policy improvements were noted when Firefly was fined in 2017. Firefly Fined 1.6MM    Firefly 2014 TA Forum    Firefly on TA Forum (2014)  

Flizzr Reviews  Flizzr is a new division of Sixt and is offering low cost vehicles in most European countries. We have seen no Italian complaints at this point, but complaints on this TA Forum  regarding three other countries doesn't bode well for a new listing.. We found the Flizzr website off-putting as there are no phone numbers listed ever, and they try to attract people with the specious offer of  'Free Cancellation' for unpaid bookings!

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. It seems to be expanding and we have no reviews yet. It shares the name of a broker named Inter Rent from New Zealand that has complaints from 2012 see below, but we assume they are different companies.

Optimo Rent Reviews Seems to be a new car provider in Italy and the website gives no location addresses. Airport locations seem to be only in planning. We found one review with five writers: one happy, one ok, two unhappy and one Belgian seriously en colèreOptimo Rent Review. Same business address as Target Rent (see). All things considered, we have the full frowny face.

Rentalcars.com Reviews This is the world's largest car rental broker, and was formerly on our avoid list with complaints such as this TA Italy Forum on Rentalcars.com.  We don't like that they act as brokers for numerous entrants to our Avoid listings including Joyrent, Ecovia and B-Rent. However in fairness, complaints have been few lately and we've seen a compliment or two. Beware the 'documents' requirement in the fine print - it has been cited to deny prepaid reservations without refund.

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


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.

Atlaschoice Review Apparently another alternate name for Autovia, see
below.

AutoClick Reviews  This is a new company offering inexpensive car hires all over Europe. Complaints appeared as suddenly as the company. The company is based in Mallorca Spain. The locations named airport are not at the airport. We wouldn't dare hire. AutoClick on TA Forum

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  Ecovia on TA Forum and Trustpilot Reviews.

B Rent / B-Rent  New to us in 2017, it's an old story. Avoid. B-Rent on TA Forum

Cartrawler Review  This broker has partnered with numerous travel companies - airlines, airports, etc. - to take rental reservations, but we would avoid avoid avoid them.  You need to be wary as the website facade may be branded as, say, an airline - RyanAir Car Rental as one example. The Terms & Conditions specify that a prepaid reservations can be denied without refund if you don't have acceptable (but undefined) 'documents' or the proper credit card. We've seen multiple complaints about imposed car model switches and a slow or completely unresponsive company. Cartrawler on Forum 2017   Cartrawler on TA Forum 2018.

DoYouItaly Review  The Italian virtual branch of DoYouSpain. It is a car hire broker and they have quickly gained irate customers motivated to DoYou the favor of warning you of their experience. Their website has the cheek to explain that they don't have a phone number in order to save you money. DoYouItaly on TA Forum.

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

Freecar or Free Car is the organization behind Joyrent (see below). Enough said.

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. Recently a British newspaper gave Goldcar some proper publicity - Goldcar in The Sun. It reports that the European Consumer Centre Italy reported Goldcar was fined two million euros by the Italian competition authority (AGCM) as the Spanish and Italian branches of the company used “unfair commercial practices”.

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.

Joyrent Reviews  This is another new car rental company that immediately began receiving complaints. This company seems to excel at launching customer anger into the stratosphere. Joyrent Complaints on TA Forum.

Karym Rent We received a credible report alleging serious multiple unjustified credit card charges against this company after a rental in Rome. This website looks dodgy to us, and the final blow is the website's bad grammar.

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

Optimo Rent Reviews Seems to be a new car provider in Italy and the website gives no location addresses. Airport locations seem to be only in planning. We found one review with five writers: one happy, one ok, two unhappy and one Belgian seriously en colèreOptimo Rent Review. Same business address as Target Rent (see). All things considered, we have the full frowny face.

RyanAir Car Rental Review We were on a Ryan Air flight to Poland once where the stewards walked the aisle selling porn DVD's like it was duty free. The Ryan Air car hire website is run by Cartrawler. See the avoid avoid avoid review above and feel free to make your own analogy.

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.

Target Car Rent Reviews  A new company appearing lately as 'targetrent.it' with largely negative comments. Same business address as Optimo Rent (above). Target Car Rent on TA Forum
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Recommended Approach.  We advise getting your car from a company with the fewest problems reported (Avis, Europcar, Hertz, Budget) either direct or via an established reputable car rental broker. Numerous internet car brokers are just newly created marketing inventions. Yes, the price going in will seem to more than other advertised prices, but it's the price coming out that counts.
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One established broker we like is AutoEurope. They have a good reputation and have been in business for decades.They offer 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)         Budget (English)          Hertz Italy in English 
AutoEurope(USA)                  Auto Europe(UK)          AutoEurope Long-Term Rental (22days+)
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*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 Cartrawler and Kayak do on some offerings. Reserving a rental car through an airline is almost always more expensive. 
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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. Though now a little dated, it gives you a good idea of what to expect. 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? For example, the Fiat Panda is has smaller baggage space than others in 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: SmartTraveller.gov.au. 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. Some credit cards (Chase Sapphire, United Air Explorer, et al.) now include primary insurance for rentals. This really saves worry and money so check your credit card or upgrade to one that does. You can also buy a special traveler's insurance policy ahead of time (especially in the UK), 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 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 that amount of risk. 
           
2017: Our 56th Italy trip.
About the Authors & 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.

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Opinions By Mike, Grammar by Martha
Last Updated June, 2018.

 Editing  Scratchpad:   Hertz Homepage (UK)                Hertz Homepage (US)