Everything you need to know when renting from Silvercar
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
Silvercar has always stood apart from most car rental companies, and now its differences (think: no-contact pickups through its app) offer a clear advantage in a socially distanced world.
I've been a Silvercar fan since the service launched in 2012. Nothing takes away all of the car rental pain points, even under normal circumstances, but Silvercar has done a reasonable job of eliminating most of them. And now that we've started to travel a bit during the ongoing pandemic, it's no surprise that we turned again to Silvercar to make the car rental experience as painless (and touchless) as possible.
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With Silvercar, you know you're getting an Audi (high-quality car seats are included) and Wi-Fi is free. Fees for fuel refueling ($9.95) and using the toll transponder ($4.95), although not as low as they used to be, are still better than many competitors. Using both of those features allowed us to reduce even more touchpoints while in Florida.
If you're considering renting with Silvercar for the first time, here's what to expect.
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Vehicle types and prices
Silvercar's fleet at one time was composed entirely of — you guessed it — silver Audi A4 sedans. Now, you have more choices of color (gray, silver or black) and vehicle type, though you'll still always be driving an Audi. In fact, Silvercar is now owned by Audi, so I don't expect the vehicle lineup will expand anytime soon. The lineup varies a bit from location to location, but may include:
- Audi A4 (sedan)
- Audi Q5 (small- to medium-sized crossover SUV)
- Audi A5 Cabriolet (convertible)
- Audi Q7 (three-row SUV)
I'd argue that, if you're traveling with more than four people — especially with luggage — you need to get the Q7. Even with a family of four, we had luggage piled everywhere on a recent ski trip, making the drive to the mountains from Denver in an A4 a bit cozy. But for a trip with four people or fewer, the A4 is just fine.
Related: 5 steps to the perfect car rental
The price generally increases as you progress from the A4 to the Q7. Outside of discounts (we'll get to that in a minute), the A4 usually starts around $60 per day and the Q7 starts around $90 per day, though those rates can vary depending on the rental location, season and demand.
Although Silvercar is seldom the cheapest rental car option, it isn't always an order of magnitude higher than competitors when you start stacking discounts. And there have been times when it's more affordable than some of the big rental brands.
Silvercar has expanded since its debuted, entering many major cities across the country. Currently, you can rent from Silvercar at the following locations:
- Austin-Bergstrom (AUS)
- Boston Logan (BOS)
- Charlotte Douglas (CLT)
- Chicago O'Hare (ORD)
- Dallas Love Field (DAL)
- Dallas — Audi Dallas
- Denver International (DEN)
- Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood (FLL)
- McCarran International in Las Vegas (LAS)
- Los Angeles International (LAX)
- Miami International (MIA)
- Miami South Beach
- Newark Liberty (EWR)
- New York City — Brooklyn Williamsburg
- New York City — Brooklyn Downtown
- New York City — Manhattan Columbus Circle
- New York City — Manhattan West 42nd Street (temporarily closed)
- John Wayne Airport in Orange County (SNA)
- Orlando International (MCO)
- Sky Harbor International in Phoenix (PHX)
- Salt Lake City (SLC)
- San Diego International (SAN)
- San Francisco International (SFO)
- San Francisco Downtown — Union Square
- Seattle-Tacoma (SEA)
- Tampa International (TPA)
- Dulles International in Washington, D.C. (IAD)
Silvercar is tech-friendly: The app-based rental process removes lines and waiting. You can seamlessly book your Silvercar in either within the app or through the website.
If you need something special, like a car seat or ski rack, you have to request that directly from Silvercar after you book your rental. The best part is that add-ons like the car seat or ski rack above all come free of charge.
Even if you don't want to add anything to your reservation, be sure to download the Silvercar app before picking up your rental, as you'll need it to pick up the car.
Related: Guide to touchless payments
Silvercar has the best car seats in the car rental industry — and doesn't charge for them. Car seats do need to be reserved alongside of your rental, however, in order to be confirmed for your arrival time and date.
If you need the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Convertible or Peg Perego Viaggio Flex Booster car seats, submit a car seat request through Silvercar's chat feature.
Silvercar rentals in the Denver and Salt Lake City locations offer ski racks at no extra charge, but again, you need to request them online well in advance.
Pet hammocks are available upon request and cost $25 for the duration of the rental.
Surf racks are available upon request at Silvercar's San Diego location for no additional charge.
Related: Road trips to take this summer
Silvercar's pickup process can vary depending on your location.
Last year in Salt Lake City, for example, Silvercar picked my family up at the terminal and away we went in our rental car. The Austin location is also known for that service. But for recent rentals in Denver or Orlando, we had to take a shuttle bus to an off-site rental facility to get the car.
Sometimes, in a pre-pandemic world, you can pick up a Silvercar employee at their airport location while returning the car, and that employee will drive you (and your kids, luggage and pets) to the airport so you don't have to unload a second time.
To learn the exact pickup or drop-off process for your location, you'll need to either check Silvercar's website or pay attention to the instructions you receive via text on the day of pickup. You can notify Silvercar of your arrival in the app when you land at your chosen airport, and the details will display.
Regardless of when and where you retrieve your Silvercar, you need the app to scan a code on the car to complete the rental pickup process. There are no paper contracts, upsells or waiting in lines, which is nice.
There's a relatively new "Delivery to You" feature now available at all Silvercar locations except at Newark and Miami (South Beach). For a charge starting at $50, you can request to have your Silvercar delivered or picked up from an address you provide in the metro area around the regular pickup location.
Unsurprisingly, Silvercar has had to make changes to its policies and procedures in light of the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis.
First, it's requiring staff to wear face masks and stay at least six feet apart from others. Silvercar has also instructed staff to maintain a no-touch rental handoff, so they won't handle your credit card or driver's license.
The company is using a 19-step cleaning process that reportedly includes cleansing all interior areas and surfaces with a disinfectant and germicidal solution. The Peg Perego Booster and Flex Convertible child seats are cleaned with a concentrated quaternary ammonia detergent and disinfectant.
Save on Silvercar
New customer offers
If you are a new Silvercar customer, you'll save 20% on your first rental with the code TPG20.
- If you have a Visa Infinite credit card, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the code VISAINF20 will save you 20% on Silvercar rentals.
- Silvercar periodically releases seasonal discount codes. Right now, the code MYBACKYARDTPG10 will save you 10% if you book by Sept. 30.
- If you rent for a week or longer, you can save 30% with the code 30OFF15+DAYS.
- Stay on the lookout for Amex Offers that can sometimes help you save on Silvercar rentals.
Audi owner's program
If you own an Audi, you can score additional Silvercar deals. Through Dec. 31, 2020, Audi owners get one free day on each two-day rental and two free days on four-day rentals. If you're in the market for an Audi, those purchases and leases on 2019 and newer models come with seven free Silvercar rental days.
In August 2019, Silvercar introduced a loyalty program called Premium Rewards. You earn 1 point per dollar spent on the base car rental rate. Points can then be used to offset the base rate of a future rental at a rate of approximately 9.5 cents per point, based on our tests.
Once you have enough points to cover at least 50% of the base rate of a rental, you can redeem them. Taxes and fees will still have to be paid with good old-fashioned cash.
Is it worth it?
Sometimes, a Silvercar rental feels infinitely more luxurious and high-tech than your regular car rental experience — especially when you're picked up and dropped off at the terminal, the app works properly and you're on your way in the Audi of your rental car dreams in mere minutes. When that happens, especially if I've reserved a free ski rack or child seat — it's always been worth the price.
Last year, for example, we used Silvercar for a Colorado ski trip, and our Audi handled the icy, snow-covered roads just fine. My parents' compact rental car, on the other hand, was literally sliding down the driveway and had to be pushed up a hill (not worth it).
If you're still dealing with a shuttle from the airport, you need a different type of vehicle or you couldn't secure the complimentary extras, Silvercar won't have as big of a leg up over some competitors. Still, at the end of the day, you'll be in an upscale Audi with free Wi-Fi.
And especially now, I'm all in for the touchless service, even on trips where any old rental car would suffice.
So, whether you're looking for a zero-touch car rental experience, or just want to embark on a road trip in style this summer, Silvercar might very well be the best choice on the market.