4 lessons from my touchless car rental experience

Aug 10, 2020

After sheltering in place this spring along with most of the rest of the country, early this summer we started venturing away from home for some short straight-shot socially distanced vacation road trips within Texas. And for the most part, that’s going to be our primary vacation plan for the duration of the summer.

However, when I decided to cover the reopening of Disney World in Orlando in early July, that meant a flight, hotel stay, theme park visit and rental car — all things I hadn’t done since the world changed in March. I took each piece as it came and planned how we’d tackle it as safely as possible, with some components of the trip being easier than others.

Thankfully, the rental car process was probably the easiest and most socially distanced aspect of the trip.

I’d been a Silvercar fan for almost a decade, so I knew that it was very easy to rent from them and never experience a line or mandatory close encounter of any kind with staff. And indeed, that prior experience proved to be true for my recent pandemic-era touchless car rental.

Here are four things to know if you are in the market for a touchless rental car like the one experienced from Silvercar.

The app is your best friend

I get it, you may hate having to download new apps just as I do. But this is one you want — especially right now.

If you’re going to rent from Silvercar and want a touchless experience you must — and I repeat must — download and set up the app in advance of the trip. This is how you will scan your assigned car and complete the transaction so you can get in, access the keys and get going on your way.

Make sure that all your personal details, payment info, etc. are in the app and there shouldn’t be anything left to do when you pick up the car. However, if you do need to show a license or similar upon pick-up, the procedure is to put that down on the car hood or similar and still maintain a touchless experience.

The 19-step cleaning process that helps keep you safe

Silvercar has a 19-step cleaning process for all interior areas and surfaces that include using disinfectant and germicidal cleaning solutions on surfaces and vacuuming all footwells and cloth areas. At the Orlando location where I rented, I was told the cars are also allowed to sit for several hours before anyone would enter before and after each rental. I don’t know at what temperature viruses die, but I know a parked car in the Orlando heat gets to be approximately a million degrees in a hurry.

Related: How to thoroughly disinfect your airplane seat

The shuttle was empty

At this particular location, the Silvercar rental pick-up facility does require a shuttle bus ride from the Orlando airport.

We told Silvercar we had landed via a text response that popped up when we arrived in Orlando and an empty shuttle bus was waiting outside for us.

Affordable toll and gas refuel features

This part is obviously optional but was certainly appreciated on this trip.

Unlike most car rental companies that charge massive fees for things like refueling, Silvercar charges fair market prices for gas, plus a flat $9.95 additional refueling fee. I was more than happy to spend $10 extra or so to avoid a stop at a Florida gas station right now. That saved us time and eliminated another potential human interaction.

Related: Best credit cards for car rentals

Bottom line

This may or may not be the time for your family to travel. However, whenever the time comes that you again need a rental car with minimal to no human interaction, it’s entirely possible to have a touchless rental car experience with some planning and preparation.

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.

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