This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

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.

The best beginner points and miles card out there.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

With great travel benefits, 2x points on travel & dining and a 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game. Here are the top 5 reasons it should be in your wallet, or read our definitive review for more details.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
17.99% - 24.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.