This year's World's Best Awards survey was open for voting January 11 through May 10, 2021, as destinations around the world were lifting COVID-19 restrictions. Survey rules have always allowed readers to reflect on their travel experiences over a three-year period. We hope that this year's honorees will inspire your own travels as you get back out into the world.
There's no sugar coating it: the past year has been rough for car-rental companies. First, demand fell off a cliff because of the pandemic. Then, surging interest in road trips resulted in a "carpocalypse" that led to high prices, limited choices, and grumpy customers across the country. Though World's Best Awards voters are free to consider the past few years' worth of trips when marking their ballots, recent history seemed to guide their thinking in 2021: this year's first-place finisher scored lower than 2020's third-place brand.
Getty Images Enterprise Rent-A-Car lot at the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International airport, Florida
Every year for our World's Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Car-rental companies were rated on vehicle selection, vehicle availability, car-rental location, service, and value.
Despite the difficulties of the pandemic era, consumers still had some nice things to say about their favorite brands. Take No. 2 National Car Rental, for example, which "always has great service and wonderful staff," as one voter put it. Choice and convenience were top of mind for another respondent. "Love their Emerald Aisle service, which lets you select whichever car suits your needs for that particular trip," this voter said. Numerous readers had high praise for National's loyalty program, Emerald Club, and others commented on the efforts the company makes to deliver a superior ride. "They never disappoint," said one voter. "They have the newest — and cleanest — cars."
Among all the challenges of the past year-plus, 2021 also saw the crowning of a new No. 1, with Enterprise Rent-A-Car winning top honors. Read on to learn why voters considered it the best and to see the complete list of the best car-rental companies., as voted by T+L readers
1. Enterprise Rent-A-Car
Universal Images Group/Getty Images Alabama, Montgomery, Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
After taking second place last year, Enterprise "picked up" the top ranking this time around. "It's a very dependable company that always offers a good selection, even at the smaller locations," said one fan. "Their service has always been fantastic," said another Enterprise devotee. "They've upgraded me to an Audi for my birthday — gestures like that are what keep me choosing Enterprise — and no matter which vehicle I choose, it's always pristine and comfortable." Many voters shared stories of Enterprise staff going above and beyond, which left them raving about the brand. "They're my go-to rental-car company," said one long-time customer. "I switched to them a decade ago, and they've rarely disappointed since!"
2. National Car Rental
Courtesy of National Car Rental National Car Rental lot
Courtesy of Hertz Hertz rental lot
SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images photo illustration of an Alamo Rent a Car logo seen.
More information: alamo.com
Getty Images SIXT rental car key
More information: sixt.com
See all of our readers' favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2021.