Thrifty vs Dollar

Struggling to choose a car hire company? See how Thrifty and Dollar compare.

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If you’re planning to hire a car, Thrifty and Dollar are two of the most popular options. Both companies offer a range of rental options in locations around the world. So how do you decide?

We’ve made it simple by comparing their vehicles, locations, prices, deals, policies, inclusions and more. Read on to find out which company is right for you.

Thrifty vs Dollar

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
Dollar has about 1,500 locations across:
  • Australia and New Zealand
  • United States
  • Canada
  • Caribbean
  • Latin America
  • Europe
Thrifty has offices in more parts of the world.
What type of cars does it have?
  • Vans/trucks
  • SUV/minivan
  • 4WD
  • Sedan
  • Luxury vehicles
  • Buses
  • Utility vehicles
  • Tesla vehicles
  • Specialised commercial vehicles
  • Vans
  • SUV/minivan
  • 4WD
  • Elite cars
  • Prestige/Luxury vehicles
  • Utility vehicles
  • Sedan
Thrifty has a greater variety of vehicles.
Does it require a deposit?Yes.You can reserve a car without paying a deposit. However, a deposit is required when you collect the vehicle.Both companies require a deposit before you can take the car.
Is insurance included?Yes. All Thrifty reservations come with standard cover, including third party cover to reduce your liability for third party incidents and vehicle loss or damage. Additional insurance options are available.Yes. For Australian rentals, standard coverage (loss and damage waiver) is included in the rental rates. Additional insurance is also available for purchase.Thrifty and Dollar both include insurance.
How much is excess?$4,000 for passenger vehicles and $5,500 for 4WDs.Dollar does not have a universal excess policy. The loss and damage waiver has different conditions in different locations. In Europe, excess costs around €1,500 with standard cover.Although Dollar’s excess rates vary, typically, excess is cheaper.
Do I need to wash the car?No, but vehicles should be clean and tidy when they are returned.No, but the car should not be excessively dirty or smelly when you return it.Neither company requires the car to be washed.
Rental requirementsDrivers 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 will require a translation or an International Driving Permit.Drivers must be at least 21 years old and hold a full, valid driving licence either written in English or accompanied by an English translation or International Driving Permit.Thrifty and Dollar have very similar rental requirements.
Does it charge per mile/kilometre?No, but rentals with limited mileage may be charged per mile/kilometre if the limit is exceeded.Typically, no. However, if a rental has limited mileage and the limit is exceeded, charges will be calculated by the kilometre/mile.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.Mileage is usually unlimited. If there is a mileage limit, it will be outlined in your policy agreement and you may be charged per mile/kilometre for exceeding the limit.Both Thrifty and Dollar rentals usually have unlimited mileage.
Does it rent to under 25s?Yes, but renters aged 21-24 will incur an age surcharge, and cannot purchase the Ultimate Protection insurance package. Location-specific limitations may apply.Yes. In most places, the minimum driving age is 21. Drivers aged 21 to 24 may be subject to certain limitations and driving conditions, and may have to pay an additional fee.Both companies rent to under 25s.
Does it accept cash?No.Yes, if you have a cash deposit identification card.Dollar accepts cash if you have a cash deposit identification card.
Does it price match?Yes. If you find a better rental rate elsewhere, Thrifty will take a further 10% off the rate.Yes. If you find a better Dollar rate outside of, Dollar will match it and give you an additional 10% off.Thrifty and Dollar have identical price match guarantees.
Does it pick you up?Pickup and drop-off services are offered to disabled customers and their travelling companion(s).Dollar offers pickup and drop-off services to disabled customers and their travel companion(s).Both companies offer pickup and drop-off services to disabled customers and their travelling companion(s).
What are my payment options?
  • Credit card
  • Mastercard
  • Visa debit card
  • Credit card
  • Mastercard
  • Visa debit card
  • Cash (customers with a cash deposit ID card only)
Dollar has one more payment option.
Does it accept debit cards?Yes. However, exceptions apply. Check with your Thrifty office before your rental begins.Yes.Dollar universally accepts debit cards.
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.Yes. There is a $50 fee for cancellations made more than 24 hours before the pickup time. This increases to $100 within 24 hours of the pickup time. Changes to your reservation can be made online. Changes may impact your rental charges and fees may apply.Both companies allow for cancellations and changes both before and during the rental.
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 pick-up and drop-off times and dates as soon as possible.Dollar does not specify a policy for holding reservations past the pick-up time. Check with your rental office to find out their policy.Thrifty and Dollar don’t have clear reservation-holding policies.
Can I add an extra driver?Yes. Additional drivers must meet the age and licence requirements and be listed on the rental agreement. There is 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. Additional drivers must be at least 21 years old with a valid driver’s licence. An additional fee applies, and drivers aged 21-24 must also pay an underage driver’s fee. Government renters, corporate account customers and drivers/ companions of physically impaired drivers are exempt from fees.Both companies allow you to add additional drivers.

Who offers the best price?

Thrifty and Dollar both have excellent price match guarantees, promising you 10% off your rate if you find it cheaper elsewhere. So whichever company you book with, you know you’ll get the lowest rate.

The verdict?

When searching for identical rentals on both the Thrifty and Dollar websites, we found that Thrifty had the cheapest price.

Any other differences worth noting?

Do they have manual and/or auto cars?

Both companies have both manual and automatic vehicles in their fleet.

Do the seats have covers?

Neither company specifies whether their car seats have covers.

Do the cars have trackers?

Neither Thrifty nor Dollar specify whether their vehicles have trackers, or any policy in this regard. Enquire at your local branch for more information about your particular vehicle.

Is there a points/loyalty programme?

Thrifty’s rewards programme is called Blue Chip, and members can benefit from faster bookings, a dedicated queue at rental counters, and skipping the counter altogether at select Australian locations. Members also receive exclusive email offers and are rewarded for continued loyalty with benefits and a Blue Chip VIP upgrade.

Dollar’s loyalty program is called Dollar Express Renter Rewards. Members earn one point for every US dollar or equivalent spent at Dollar. Points can be redeemed for free rental days.

Is GPS included?

Thrifty and Dollar do not include GPS in basic rental packages, but it’s available as an optional extra.

Can I return the car early?

Thrifty allows early returns, but fees may apply. You will only be charged for the days you used the car. Dollar also allows early returns, with a fee for returning the car more than 24 hours in advance.

How can I get a discount?

Thrifty’s regular business customers can access pre-agreed lower rates using Corporate Discount numbers. Auto club members may be eligible for discounts, as well. Otherwise, Thrifty’s only deals are special deals and Blue Chip membership rewards and discounts.

Likewise, Dollar offers corporate car rental discounts, and Dollar Express members can redeem points for free rental days. If you have a promotional code for Dollar, you can use it to receive a discount.

What are the deals like?

Thrifty’s deals often include partner deals, weekend specials, vehicle class upgrades, free rental days and discounts for certain vehicles and locations. Thrifty currently offers 25% off midweek moving truck rentals, 12% off larger passenger vehicles, free vehicle upgrades at select Australian locations, four days for the price of three, 10% off SUV rentals, cheap Nifty car rental in Western Australia, free day/s for Northern Territory car rentals, two free theme park passes with SUV rental from Coolangatta, and deals with partners including Bluesfest, AFL, Experience Oz and Virgin Australia.

Dollar offers discounts off the overall rental price, for certain time frames, and for prepaid rentals. Dollar’s current deals include 10% off weekend or weekly car rentals, $40 off monthly car rental, and 20% off prepaid rentals. Dollar also has a variety of partner discounts with companies including AAdvantage, Avianca, Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines.

The verdict?

Both Thrifty and Dollar have a good range of deals and partner discounts. However, Thrifty nudges ahead thanks to the number of car hire discounts and special offers available in Australia.


Darwin car hires from $39 per day

Expires 31 Dec 2021
Available on rentals until December 2021 with Europcar, Budget, Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Enterprise and more.

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