Avis vs. Budget – So, what’s the difference?

Whether you’re away on business or taking time out to relax with the family, it can be a daunting task to find a car rental agency. You may find yourself wondering which agency is the best to use, and with big names like Avis and Budget in the mix, it can feel overwhelming trying to decide which is most suitable for your needs. If you are deciding which you should trust, read on to see what the connection between the two is and which you should be using.

Avis and Budget fall under the same parent company, Avis Budget Group. Avis is aimed at a higher-end target market, prices are slightly higher, and there are more restrictions and rules that apply. Budget is economy-focused and not as strict with regulations. Avis is available in more locations.

While Avis and Budget car rental agencies are linked, there are some differences between the two, especially regarding overall costs and administration. Let’s break down what makes each one unique.

Budget car rental office

A Bit Of Background

Before trying to compare these two companies, there’s an important bit of history to discuss in order to understand the connection.


Avis was established in 1946 by Warren Avis. The founder started the rental company at the Willow Run Airport in Michigan with just three cars. Initially, the founder focused on growing the company nationally, and by 1953 was lauded as the second-largest car rental company in the United States. In 1956, Avis car rentals opened its first international branches in Europe, Canada, and Mexico.

Known for the “We Try Harder” slogan, the Avis group took no shame in being second to The Hertz Corporation and are also credited for introducing the first-ever computerized information and reservations system in America in the early 70s. This system, called Wizard, is still in use today.

In 2012, the company rebranded and changed its slogan to “It’s Your Space.” By 2018, Avis and Hertz found themselves behind the Enterprise group, which had more than 40% of the market share at the time. However, Avis continues to be a top player in the game, and recent statistics show that the entire Avis Group is expected to grow even further.


Morris Mirkin is the man responsible for the founding of Budget Rent a Car in 1958. At the start, there were only ten cars in the fleet, and the primary aim was to provide the lowest rates among rental companies in the United States. Barely two years later, the company expanded with franchised rental outlets across the country.

Owned by various corporations over the years, the most important thing to note is that in 2002, the company was bought by the Cendant Corporation, which also owned Avis. In 2006, Cendant was subdivided into four separate divisions, with the car rental services division renamed the Avis Budget Group.

Present Day

As we learned, Avis and Budget fall under the same parent company yet operate as separate agencies. While Avis is the more mature company, the two share desks, fleets, and even mechanics. So, what’s the difference between the two?

Services Offered

Both companies offer the following options, often from the same car park:

  • One-way airport rentals and long-term rentals
  • Pickup truck rentals
  • Van rentals, including 12 or 15 passenger vans as well as minivans
  • SUV rentals in varying sizes as well as recreational vehicles
  • Sedan rentals, from economy cars that are small and light on gas with just the basics to high-end luxury cars like the Chrysler 300
  • Hybrid vehicles in various sizes
  • Luxury Sports sedans, coupes, and convertibles
  • Signature vehicles to make a statement

It’s clear from perusing the respective website that Avis is aimed at a much more executive audience while Budget presents itself as a user-friendly, no-frills, no-fuss agency. The latter appeals more to those traveling for short trips and are perhaps on a budget, while Avis portrays a more serious side.

So, What’s The Difference?

So, if these two companies are parallel and fall under the same parent company, what sets them apart, and which one is best? Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of who does what and select which one stands out for each unique selling point:

  • Availability: While Avis can be found in more than 160 countries, Budget is available in only 120. Additionally, Avis offers all its services in more locations. Avis wins.
  • Variety of choice: Often sharing a car park, both offer the same combination of vehicles to choose from. Draw.
  • Money matters: Discounts, deposits, and insurance are available in equal measure, but when it comes to excesses payable, Budget ranges from $300 – $500, whereas Avis has specified rates in the agreement. Budget wins.
  • Minimum requirements: While Budget allows anyone over 21 with a valid driving license and debit/credit card in their name to rent a car, Avis has stricter rules. Drivers must be over 25 with extra fees applicable to younger drivers, and driving licenses need to be held for 12 consecutive months. Budget wins.
  • Price: While there are certainly some differences, it’s actually negligible. There is no difference in deposit costs between the two, and the average rental price is different by only a few dollars. Still, less is less – Budget wins.
  • Reputation: Many see Avis as the more premium company with high-end cars and the pricing to match. Budget is regarded as cheaper, although there isn’t that much difference in cost. Still, Avis has been around longer and has the history that makes it more renowned. Avis wins.
  • Mileage limits: With Avis, most rental cars have unlimited mileage unless otherwise stipulated, while this is more restricted at Budget. You will be liable for additional fees if you exceed the limits. Avis wins.  
  • Adding a driver: There isn’t too much difference in this regard as both companies allow you to add another driver without additional costs. There will be extras fees per day for any more drivers and those that are between 21 and 24 years of age. Draw.


Overall, it seems that Avis and Budget come up equal in the contest. Reports and statistics remind us that Avis has won numerous accolades over the years and has been named the leading car rental company for customer loyalty by the Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Index.

From perusing the history of the Avis brand, it’s also clear to see how the agency has been at the forefront of developing policies and systems that have helped progress the industry as a whole. This includes Avis Interactive in 2000 and being the first rental car company to take the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s LATCH child restraint system seriously and implement it as far back as 2002.

Budget is not without its achievements, having rolled a paperless transaction service in 1998 and a business program in 2003 to offer small and medium-sized enterprises lower corporate rates.

As a parent company, the Avis Budget Group received CEO Cancer Gold Standard accreditation in 2011, which acknowledges that commitment to the health and wellbeing of the employees and their families. In the same year, expansion into Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia cemented the company’s foothold globally.  


Although Avis is an older company, both car rental agencies have been brought together under one umbrella through the Avis Budget Group. Although the main difference is in the target market, with Budget aimed at economy-focused shoppers and Avis being slightly more premium, these two agencies are surprisingly similar.

Deciding which is best very much depends on where you are based, as Avis is more widespread globally, with more executive services such as no-queue pickups available in more locations. There is indeed a slight price difference, with Budget being more affordable as the name implies, but not by hundreds of dollars overall.

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John Cunningham

John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer on Rustyautos.com. I've been a mechanic for over twenty-five years, and I've worked for GM, Volvo, Volkswagen, Landrover, and Jaguar dealerships. My passion is cars. I use my knowledge and experience to write articles that help fellow gear-heads with all aspects of car ownership, including buying advice, maintenance, and troubleshooting.

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