Budget vs Alamo: Which should you drive away with?
We compare Budget and Alamo so you don't have to.
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You need to book a hire car. You've done the research and now you are tossing up between Budget and Alamo. They seem so similar. But there are differences.
For example, Budget accepts more payment options, has lower excess rates, is more flexible with early returns and is available in more countries. However, Alamo has a wider range of vehicles and with identification requirements that are less strict.
Budget wins overall, saving you cash on car rental excess and early return fees and is available in more locations including Senegal, Faroe Islands and Angola, to name a few.
Outside of this, neither company requires a deposit, both offer basic insurance, both require a minimum driving age of 21 and both price match.
If your decision is made, you can make your booking with either Budget or Alamo now. If you're still tossing up between the two, continue on for our blow-by-blow comparison of what sets these two apart.
Budget vs Alamo: Differences and similarities
|How much is excess?||$300-$500, depending on the vehicle type.||$600-$900 depending on the vehicle type.||Budget has lower excess rates.|
|What are my payment options?||Budget accepts more payment methods.|
|Can I return my car early?||Budget allows you to return your rental vehicle early without prior notification and without any fees or charges. You will only pay for the period that you had the vehicle, provided you didn't prepay for your vehicle, in which case you'll receive no refund. Your shortened trip may change your daily rate, particularly if you booked on a special that required a minimum number of rental days.||Yes. A fee may apply. If you booked the car on a special that requires a minimum number of rent days which you cut short, your discount is void and you may be charged the full rate of your hire.||Both accept early returns though Budget doesn't charge fees unless the early return affects a special low rate.|
|Where can I hire a car?||Budget is available in 120+ countries in:||Alamo is available in 80+ countries in:||Budget is available in more countries worldwide.|
|What type of cars does it have?||Alamo has a wider range of vehicles.|
|Rental requirements||Drivers must be aged 21 or older, with a valid driver’s licence and a credit or debit card in their name. Overseas licences must be supported with a passport. Licences written in non-Latin characters need an International Driving Permit or official translation.||Drivers must be 21 years or older (with the exception of some states in the US), and in possession of a valid driver’s licence either written in English or accompanied by an International Driving Permit.||Alamo rental requirements are slightly less stringent.|
|Does it require a deposit?||No but discounts apply if you pay when you book.||No.||Neither requires a deposit.|
|Is insurance included?||Yes. Loss damage waiver, personal and property insurance, and third party insurance are all included in most Budget rentals. Additional insurance packages can be purchased.||Yes. All Alamo rentals include standard cover with Loss or Damage Liability. Additional insurance is available to purchase.||Both include base-level insurance.|
|Do I need to wash the car?||No, but you must pay for any professional cleaning or odour extraction if required.||No, however Alamo does not specify how clean vehicles should be when returned.||Neither requires you to wash the car.|
|Does it charge per mile/kilometre?||No. However, distance limits apply to some rentals, in which case you may be charged for exceeding the limit.||No. However, if your rental has limited mileage, you will be charged per kilometre/mile if you exceed the allowance.||Neither charges per kilometre.|
|Is there unlimited mileage?||Some rentals include unlimited mileage. Otherwise fees may apply if you go over your limit.||Typically, yes. This depends on the rental location and vehicle type. Any mileage limits will be specified in your rental agreement.||Both typically offer unlimited mileage.|
|Does it rent to under 25s?||Yes, in certain locations. The minimum age for renting a car in Australia is 21. However, in some places, renting to people under 25 is not possible, or subject to restrictions and fees.||Yes. The minimum rental age is 21. However, renters aged 21-24 will incur a young drivers surcharge and may also pay higher rates.||Both rent to under 25s when it is legal to do so.|
|Does it accept cash?||Yes.||Yes.||Both accept cash.|
|Does it price match?||Yes. If you find the same rental for a lower rate on another website, you can claim a free-day rental certificate.||Yes. If you find a better rate on the same rental elsewhere, Alamo will match the base rate and give you 10% off.||Both price match.|
|Is there a pick-up service?||No.||No.||Neither picks you up.|
|Does it accept debit cards?||Yes.||Yes.||Both accept debit cards.|
|Does it allow for cancellations/changes?||Cancellations can be made online at any time, and there are no cancellation fees within Australia. Any changes to your rental may change your rate. You can also return your vehicle early without prior notification.||You can make cancellations and changes online before the start of the rental. Certain changes can be made during the rental period. Cancellation fees may apply.||Both allow for cancellations and changes. Budget doesn't charge you to cancel.|
|How long does it hold reservations?||If your flight is delayed or rescheduled, Budget airport desks remain open until shortly after the last flight arrives. There is no specified reservation hold period.||Alamo usually honours vehicle reservations until the end of the business day, or for 12 hours after the scheduled pick-up time, whichever is sooner.||Both have conditional reservation hold periods.|
|Can I add an extra driver?||Yes. Immediate family and partners, employees and employers, and companion drivers with a disability can be added as additional drivers free of charge. Fees apply for all other additional drivers and vary by location and vehicle type. Additional drivers must be at least 25 years old with a valid licence.||Yes. Additional drivers will be subject to a daily fee, which varies by location. The average rate is US$12 per day. Additional drivers must also meet Alamo’s age and licence requirements and present themselves at the rental counter alongside the primary driver.||Both allow additional drivers.|
|Do they have manual or auto cars?||Budget has both.||Alamo has both.||Both offer manual and auto vehicles.|
|Is there a loyalty program?||Budget’s rewards program Fastbreak gives members benefits like fast and easy rental pick-ups and returns and access to exclusive offers. Budget bookings can also earn you Qantas Frequent Flyer and Flybuys points.||Alamo operates Alamo Insiders, which offers members everyday low rates, exclusive offers, and a 5% discount on all rentals.||Both have loyalty programs .|
|Is GPS included?||This can be added as an additional feature, for a fee.||This can be added as an additional feature, for a fee.||Both offer GPS for a fee.|
Compare and book your car rental
Who offers the best price?
Budget and Alamo both price match, so whichever company you choose you’ll get the best rental rate by booking direct.
When pegged against one another Budget came on top, costing $10 less than Alamo. We discovered this by making reservations for the same location and dates direct with both.
In this instance, the models that pulled up the cheapest price varied, with Budget choosing a compact hatch while Alamo pulled out a full-sized sedan.
This being the case, if you were after a larger car, Alamo might have won this round.
How can I get a discount?
Both car companies allow you to tap into discounts in different ways.
With Budget, you need to subscribe to Budget emails, become a Fastbreak member or join the Budget Business Club. Otherwise, you can just keep checking our deals page for potential free upgrades, extra days and discounts, when available.
With Alamo you can secure deals such as upgrades and discounted rates through coupons and special offers. As Alamo is predominantly in the US, most of its deals are geared around US hire. An easy way to catch a deal is by joining Alamo Insiders, which guarantees you 5% off all rental rates.
Budget has more offers available to Australian customers, and more international deals.
Top deals with Budget and Alamo
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