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Review of Silvercar – A New Luxury Car Rental Startup

by on August 29, 2013 · 18 comments

in car services, TPG Contributors, Travel Industry

TPG contributor Matthew Goldman takes us for a spin with Silvercar, one of the latest “disruptive” travel innovators that’s bringing concierge-style service to car rentals in cities across the Western US (so far) and might just change the way we all rent cars in the future.

Innovative startups have “disrupted” the travel industry in many ways over the past twenty years. From Expedia and Travelocity to ZipCar, Uber and the new subscription-based airline SurfAir, these industry-bucking companies are usually good news for travelers looking to save some time and/or cash.

One of the newest startups is the Dallas-based company, Silvercar. Backed by over $10 million in venture capital, Silvercar provides luxury rentals and a concierge-style experience with a fleet of silver Audi A4s. I recently got to try out the service on a trip to Austin, one of their few initial cities (Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Francisco).

In Austin, there is a flat daily rate of $89 for the rental, but Silvercar has launched a promotional partnership with Virgin America, so by going through this link and using the coupon code VXBINGO, I was able to get $51 off each rental day for a rate of $38, as well as 2,500 bonus Virgin Elevate points (you get another 2,500 after 4 rentals) and 4 points per $1 I spent on the rental.

Screen shot 2013-08-28 at 4.17.27 PM

Upon arriving at the airport you send a text to Silvercar via their mobile app (here is the iPhone version, and the Android version).  A SilverCar driver comes to the terminal and picks you up curbside. After driving to the nearby Silvercar location (a few miles away in Austin at a warehouse) you pick up your car.

My driver verified my license and credit card then had me scan a QR code on the Audi and the doors unlocked. We loaded up our bags, received a tutorial on the car (which was a bit long, but I suppose they are being friendly) and headed on my way.

The Audi A4 is a nice car with all of the luxury appointments (navigation, Bluetooth, quality sound and a snappy 2.0 liter turbocharged inline 4). Silvercar’s vehicles come standard with satellite radio, an in-car WiFi hotspot and free toll tracking. I could do without its navigation system, which I thought was terribly designed, but I won’t fault Silvercar for that, and I just used my iPhone instead.

Silvercar only rents Audi A4s.

Silvercar only rents Audi A4s.

The car performed well and it was easy to return. I received a friendly text reminder on the day of the return and headed straight to the facility, which was programmed into the navigation system.

However, here things were not ideal. We were in a bit of a rush, but Silvercar was short-staffed and didn’t have someone available to help us individually. We were expecting to pick up a driver at the Silvercar facility who would accompany us to the airport and then drive the car back to the Silvercar station while we continued on our way. However, with only one driver present at the facility and two cars being returned, we had to squeeze into a single car with another pair of renters.

Luckily, we all fit and the drive was short. By the time we got to the airport, I had received my e-mail receipt, charging me a very reasonable market price for gas – another innovative feature of Silvercar so you don’t have to waste time finding a gas station to fill up the tank before returning your car – plus a flat $5.00 mark-up fee. After the gas charge and rental car fees and taxes I ended up paying right around $70 for my one day rental.

At Austin Bergstrom Airport, the rental cars are simply upstairs and outside of the terminal, which is a very short walk.  In this case, it is probably easier to walk across to a traditional rental car company than the Silvercar experience, though you’d also most likely end up paying quite a bit more for a comparable car, and I did like all the bells and whistles in the Audi A4 plus the convenience of not having to fill up on gas or get myself to/from the airport.

For such convenient airports, Silvercar’s luxury experience is its true advantage, but I will say the car is not remarkably nicer than my typical upgrade with National.  At other airports, such as San Francisco or Dallas where you have to take a shuttle or tram, however, Silvercar’s door-to-door would be a huge convenience and an advantage that I wouldn’t mind having.

All in all, it was a decent experience and one tailored to business travelers on-the-go who appreciate personalized attention matched with efficient customer service, and I’d recommend it to others. I’m not sure the $89 daily rate would be worth it for a longer rental, but thanks to the Virgin America coupon code and bonus points, I was able to get a reasonable rate that made the rental worth it in my opinion.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author.s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

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  • Steven S

    Checked it out for SFO rental in October. Rate was $74/day and the promotion code was rejected as invalid.

  • mds426

    Wow, thanks for the great info. I just booked a SilverCar with this code in SFO a couple weeks from now for $9/day. Sounds like a much more customer friendly experience compared to the traditional car rental agencies.

  • italdesign

    Promo code works after you create an account @ Silvercar.

    I selected some dates for SFO in October with promo. Here’s what I found:
    -One day rentals near the weekend are only $9 ($32 total).
    -The longer you extend it, the more expensive per day it gets. For example, a Fri-Sun rental = $34/day, while Fri-Mon = $43/day. But Sun-Mon = $9/day.
    -Mid week rates are higher @ $39/day.

  • shoegirl0310

    Hi, can you tell me how you got $9 a day at SFO? I am trying and it’s 87$ with code 67$, thank you so much

  • monarchy

    How does it work if you leave the car with valets etc?

  • http://www.matthewgoldman.com/ Matthew Goldman

    When you arrive, you use the app to text SilverCar, who drive to the airport to pick you up in one of the Audis. They drive you to their facility and get you checked out.

    On return, you drive to their facility, a driver hops into the car with you and you return to the airport. They drop you off curbside and take the car back to the facility for you.

    It’s very easy and a much nicer ride than a shuttle!

  • monarchy

    Oh I meant with hotel valets etc, If you use your smartphone to access the car, does it still have keys to give to hotel / restaurant valets?

  • http://www.matthewgoldman.com/ Matthew Goldman

    Ah, sorry I misunderstood. The smartphone unlocks the car for the first time, which is cool, but you do get a traditional key for turning it on, driving around and handing to the hotel valet.

  • KSATL

    Does anyone know the T&C for the Promo code? Do you have to book by/rent by a certain date?

  • DerekT

    Silvercar is such a great company. My wife just used them for a week in Dallas and had an excellent experience (great service, great car). My only complaint is that they aren’t in all of the cities I travel to yet. But that’s not actually a complaint, I just want them to grow so I can use them more instead of Hertz and Avis!

  • mds426

    I believe the $9 rate is only for 1day weekend rentals. If you search for more than one day, the daily rate increases..

  • http://www.matthewgoldman.com/ Matthew Goldman

    I believe these are the full terms: https://www.silvercar.com/partners/virgin/termsconditions The fourth rental for the bonus must be done by 11/30/2013

  • John Doeman

    You know you know nothing about cars when…

    … you say an A4 “performed well.”

  • John Doeman

    But, good company, nonetheless.

  • Rick Saunders
  • Rick Saunders

    nice comment

  • Patrick Mc

    Can you use the promo code more than once during the promotion period? Or is it limited to one use per Silvercar account?

  • http://www.sslimousine.com/reserve-your-limo-now-for-your-rochester-event/ limo service in rochester ny

    Very impressive post thanks for share…………

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