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Thrifty vs Budget

Hiring a car? Find out how Thrifty and Budget compare against each other.


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Thrifty and Budget are two of the most well-known car rental brands, both in Australia and around the world. But when you’re looking to hire a car, how do you decide which company is best for you?

Read on to compare Thrifty and Budget’s locations, vehicle types, rental policies and inclusions, prices, deals and more.

Thrifty vs Budget

Where can I hire a car?Thrifty has more than 1,000 locations across:
  • Asia
  • Australia and New Zealand
  • Europe
  • Canada
  • Caribbean
  • Latin America
  • United States
  • Middle East
  • Africa
Budget has rental locations in:
  • Asia
  • Australia and New Zealand
  • Europe
  • Canada
  • Caribbean
  • Latin America
  • United States
  • Africa
  • Middle East
Both companies have a similar range of locations.
What type of cars does it have?
  • Vans/trucks
  • SUV/minivan
  • 4WD
  • Sedan
  • Luxury vehicles
  • Buses
  • Utility vehicles
  • Tesla vehicles
  • Specialised commercial vehicles
  • Vans/trucks
  • SUV/minivan
  • 4WD
  • Sedan
  • Sports cars
  • Commercial vehicles
  • Specialty vehicles
Thrifty has more vehicle types.
Does it require a deposit?Yes.No deposit is necessary, but it decreases the overall price.Budget does not require a deposit.
Is insurance included?Yes. All Thrifty rentals come with standard cover, including third party cover, which reduces your liability for third party incidents and vehicle loss or damage. Extra insurance packages can be purchased.Yes. Loss damage waiver, personal and property insurance, and third party insurance is included in most rentals. Additional insurance is available for purchase.Both companies include insurance in their rentals.
How much is excess?$4,000 for passenger vehicles and $5,500 for 4WDs.Acceptance of the loss damage waiver reduces excess to $300-$500, depending on the type of vehicle.Budget has cheaper excess.
Do I need to wash the car?No. However, you should return the vehicle in a clean and tidy condition.No. However, if professional cleaning or odour extraction is required, you must pay for it.Neither Thrifty nor Budget requires you to wash the car.
Rental requirements?Drivers must be at least 21 years old with a valid, non-provisional Australian licence or a current overseas licence. Licences not written in English or lacking a photo must be accompanied by either a translation or an International Driving Permit.Drivers must be 21 years or older, with a valid driver’s licence and a credit or debit card in their name. Overseas licences must be accompanied by a passport. Licences written in non-Latin characters will also need an International Driving Permit or an official translation.Thrifty and Budget have similar rental requirements.
Does it charge per mile/kilometre?No, but if your rental has limited mileage, you may be charged per mile/kilometre if you exceed the limit.No. However, distance limits do apply in some cases, and you may be charged for exceeding the allowance.Neither company charges per mile/kilometre.
Is there unlimited mileage?Typically, mileage is unlimited, but limited mileage does apply to certain vehicles and locations. Mileage is always specified in the rental agreement.Yes. On most rentals, there is no mileage limit.Typically, Thrifty and Budget rentals come with unlimited mileage.
Does it rent to under 25s?Yes, but renters aged 21-24 must pay an age surcharge, and cannot purchase the Ultimate Protection insurance package. Location-specific limitations may apply.In some locations. The minimum driving age in Australia is 21. However, in some places, renting to people under 25 is not possible, or is subject to restrictions and fees.Thrifty rents to under 25s more universally than Budget.
Does it accept cash?No.Yes.Budget accepts cash.
Does it price match?Yes. If you find a better rental rate elsewhere, Thrifty will give you that rate with a further 10% off.Yes. If you find a Budget rate on another website that is lower than the rate for the same rental on, you can receive a free-day rental certificate.Both companies price match.
Does it pick you up?Pickup and drop-off services are offered to disabled customers and their travelling companion/s.No.Neither company provides pickup services as a matter of course.
What are my payment options?
  • Credit card
  • Mastercard
  • Visa debit card
  • Prepaid voucher
  • Cash
  • Traveller’s cheque
  • Credit card
  • Mastercard
  • Visa debit card
Budget has more payment options.
Does it accept debit cards?Yes. However, exceptions apply. Check with your Thrifty office before your rental begins.Yes.Budget has no exceptions to debit card acceptance.
Does it allow for cancellations/changes? If so, how?Yes. Cancellations and modifications can be made online before the beginning of the rental. During the rental period, changes can be made by contacting the Thrifty office responsible for your rental.You can make cancellations online at any time, and there are no cancellation fees within Australia. You can also return your vehicle early without prior notification. Any changes to your rental may change your rate.Budget is more flexible regarding changes and cancellations.
How long does it hold reservations?Thrifty has no clear policy regarding reservation hold periods. The policy varies by location. Always inform your rental company of changes to pickup and drop-off times and dates as soon as possible.If your flight is delayed or rescheduled, Budget airport desks will remain open until shortly after the last flight has arrived. However, there is no specified reservation hold period.Budget’s airport locations will remain open for you to collect your vehicle until shortly after the last flight of the day has arrived.
Can I add an extra driver?Yes. Additional drivers must meet the age and licence requirements and be listed on the rental agreement. There’s a charge of $5.50 per day, capped at $27.50 per 30-day rental period. Some corporate rate customers, Auto Club members and Bluechip members are exempt from the additional driver fee.Yes. Your immediate family and partner, employees and employers, and companion drivers with a disability can be added as an additional driver free of charge. Fees apply for all other additional drivers and depend on the location and vehicle type. Additional drivers must be at least 25 years old with a valid driver’s licence.Both companies allow additional drivers, but Budget charges less fees.

Who offers the best price?

Thrifty and Budget both price match, so whichever company you choose, you’re guaranteed to get the best price. Thrifty’s price match guarantee will save you an extra 10% off the rate if you find it cheaper elsewhere, while Budget will give you a free-day rental certificate. Which of these is a better deal depends on the length and price of your rental.

The verdict?

We made identical reservations with both Thrifty and Budget and found that Thrifty offered the cheapest rental price.

Thrifty rental price at the time of writing in March 2018:

Budget rental price at the time of writing in March 2018:

Any other differences worth noting?

Do they have manual and/or auto cars?

Both companies have manual and automatic cars on offer.

Do the seats have covers?

Thrifty and Budget do not specify whether their car seats have covers.

Do the cars have trackers?

Thrifty does not specify whether tracking devices are installed in its cars, or any policy in this regard. Check with your local office prior to your rental for more information.

Budget reserves the right to use electronic tools to track your vehicle’s location, usage and servicing during the rental period

Is there a points/loyalty program?

Thrifty operates a Blue Chip rewards program. Members benefit from faster bookings, no queueing at the rental counter, and even skipping the counter at select Australian locations. Members also receive exclusive offers and are rewarded for their continued loyalty with benefits and VIP membership.

Budget’s rewards program is called Fastbreak. Members benefit from fast and easy rental pick-ups and returns, as well as exclusive deals.

Is a GPS included?

Both Thrifty and Budget offer GPS devices as add-ons, rather than standard inclusions.

Can I return the car early?

Thrifty allows early returns, but fees may apply. You will only be charged for the days that you had the vehicle.

Going one better, Budget allows early returns completely free of charge and without prior notification. You will only be charged for the time that you had the vehicle.

Can I get a discount?

Thrifty’s regular business customers can access pre-approved lower rates using corporate discount numbers. Auto Club members may also be eligible for discounts. Otherwise, Thrifty’s only discounts are special offers and Blue Chip member rewards and deals.

The only means of getting a discount at Budget are subscribing to Budget emails, becoming a Fastbreak member or joining the Budget Business Club. Otherwise, you’ll just have to keep checking the deals page.

What are the deals?

Thrifty’s offers include partner deals with other travel brands like Virgin Australia and Experience Oz, weekend car hire specials, complimentary vehicle class upgrades, free extra rental days and discounts for certain vehicles and locations.

Some of Thrifty’s recent deals at the time of writing include 25% off midweek moving truck rentals, four days for the price of three, 10% off SUV rentals, cheap Nifty car rental in Western Australia and free day/s for Northern Territory car rentals.

Budget’s offers include free upgrades, complimentary extra days, straight discounts from the hire price, discounts for app bookings and discounts for certain vehicles. As a long-standing offer, you can earn bonus Qantas or flybuys points.

Popular deals include one free day of base rate when you rent a car for four days or more, a free vehicle upgrade when you rent for two days or more, and $20 off the overall price when you rent for five days or more.

The verdict?

Both companies have great deals on offer, but Thrifty wins this round thanks to the great variety of its deals.

It looks like we don't have any coupons at the moment. Take a look at our most recent deals

It looks like we don't have any coupons at the moment. Take a look at our most recent deals

Popular Budget Car Rental coupon codes

Last checked Code description Code
29 Sep 2020 7th day free car hire TPN****
29 Sep 2020 Get 3rd day free on Australia rentals TPN****
29 Sep 2020 4th day free car hire TPN****
29 Sep 2020 Free car hire upgrade UPN****
29 Sep 2020 Up to 15% off prepay bookings ********

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