Buying a Car from Hertz Rent2Buy: Pros & Cons

A few months back the wife and I bought our first new-to-us car in over 4 years. While we searched Craigslist, CarMax, and numerous new and used car dealerships, we ended up deciding to go through the Hertz Rent2Buy program.

Hertz Rent2Buy header

While we were a little nervous about buying a rental car, the overall experience was excellent and it ended up saving us a few thousand dollars!

How the Hertz Rent2Buy Process Works

  1. Visit their website (Hertz Rent2Buy), select the area of the country you’re looking to buy, and browse the different makes/models you’re looking for.
  2. After finding a car that works for you, select a pick-up time from the list of pre-selected options.
  3. Within 24 hours of your selected time, you will get an email informing you where to pick up the car and confirming that your car will be available at the time you selected.
  4. Go pick up your car. When you go to pick up the car, you will have a document stating that it’s for the Hertz Rent2Buy program (as it’s different than just their normal rental program), they’ll ask for your driver’s license, and a credit card. Within 10-15 minutes you will be driving away in your rental. Yes, you get to inspect it thoroughly before you actually drive away.
  5. If within the 3-day rental period (which I’ll discuss momentarily) you decide that you’re ready to buy the car, you simply log in to the Hertz Rent2Buy website and click the “Purchase Car” button. Within a few hours you’ll receive an email and call informing you of the next steps.
    • If you decide the car wasn’t all that you thought it was, then you can return it within the 3-day period and pay the rental charges.
  6. After buying the car, you’ll receive a call (or email) from a Hertz Rent2Buy associate detailing what will come next. This included some general information along with the acknowledgement that they’d overnight a package with all of the necessary paperwork.
  7. Complete all of the paperwork within 48 hours and return the forms to Hertz. All of the documents were well marked with sticky notes pointing to exactly what and where you need to sign. They also included a FedEx envelope to cover the cost of the return shipment.

Pros of Hertz Rent2Buy

1. Huge Selection

I was impressed with their selection at the time when we were buying a car, but to make sure this “pro” still applied I just jumped on their site and I was able to pull up over 250 current sedans they have available to sell within my area.

2. “Test” before you buy

Part of the Hertz Rent2Buy program actually involves renting the car for up to 3 days.

While I’ll mention this in the “cons” section as well, you have to pay a $200 deposit and rent the car for $50/day during that 3-day period. Basically, you ARE renting a car. You walk up to their counter in the airport just like you were renting a car from them, you pay your deposit, and they give you the keys.

If you decide to buy the car through the Hertz Rent2Buy program, then the rental fee and deposit are refunded. If however, you decide to test drive a new car or discover that the Rent2Buy program isn’t for you, then you are charged the $50/day rental fee.

3. Mostly hassle-free

One of the things that I was absolutely impressed with was how little we had to do after we decided to buy the car.

I didn’t have to go to the DMV to transfer plates (or to get new ones) and I didn’t even have to go to pay sales tax! Hertz Rent2Buy took care of all of that for us! While this may not be uncommon when buying a new car, I was pretty stoked knowing that I didn’t have to make a trip to the much-maligned DMV!

After buying the car, Hertz Rent2Buy mailed a package of documents that we needed to return within 48 hours. It included title information, sales tax paperwork, plate transfer paperwork, and the contract. One of the documents required a notary’s signature which was a little bit of a pain to get within the short time period.

4. Prices are $2,000-$3,000 below Kelley Blue Book.

Understandably, most people’s hesitation with buying a car through a program like Hertz Rent2Buy is the fact that you’re buying a rental car. However, they make up for some of this risk by giving you a ridiculously low price.

My dad paid more for his certified pre-owned car (same make/model) that he bought at a dealership even though the car we bought from Hertz was 2 years newer and had 10,000 less miles on it.

Cons of Hertz Rent2Buy

1. You’re buying a rental car

We haven’t had any issues with our car and we’ve had it for over 3 months. While our experience has gone well, it’s possible you’ll find a car that hasn’t been taken care of.

2. The Cars are newer and don’t have a lot of miles

This was certainly a pro for us, but if you’re looking to find a car for under $10,000 then Hertz Rent2Buy isn’t your place. All of the cars will be 1-2 years old and have 25,000-40,000 miles on them.

3. There was an undisclosed $200 sales fee

This was the one thing that irked me in the whole process. I’m sure it says it on their website somewhere, but I never came across a spot where they said they charge a fee for buying the car.

However, when we got the breakdown of our payment, the $200 sales fee was right there in the line items. So be prepared…the price you see on their site isn’t exactly what you pay.

4. They don’t negotiate

While I don’t like haggling for prices, it’s nice to get a discount especially when you’re paying with cash. However, much like CarMax, Hertz Rent2Buy wouldn’t come down on their price at all. It wasn’t too hard to swallow though considering how great of a deal we were getting.

5. They overestimate on sales tax and title transfer fees

I’m sure this is the case with most states, but you can easily go to the State’s website and estimate your sales tax charges on a vehicle. Despite that information being readily available, Hertz Rent2Buy charged us a 7% sales tax which made our initial out-of-pocket price for the car quite a bit more than we were ready for.

The good part was that within 2-3 weeks Hertz Rent2Buy sent us a refund check (as they promised) for a little over $800.

All-in-all I think the process went smoothly and I’ll consider buying a car from Hertz Rent2Buy again. Sure, we were a little skeptical and nervous about buying a rental car, but at this stage in our life I was fine with saving $2,500.

Picture by Time to Take Pictures.

About the Author

By , on Jul 30, 2012
Andy Tenton
Andy is a 30-something New Yorker who turned his financial life around. He took charge of his finances, got out of debt, and is now working his way toward financial success. He is the publisher of WorkSaveLive.com.

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{32 Comments}

  1. Kerry says:

    Ive bought 2 cars from hertz. The first was from the hertz car sales dealer 2010 Camry and the second from the rent to buy program 2012 Altima. Both experiences went well and I saved a ton of money and the cars were both exceptionally nice and run flawlessly. But now I here commercials on the radio for the hertz programs and boy have the prices gone up ! I visit the site quite often and research and compare prices often. So take my info as good experiences but not so good of a deal anymore. JMO

  2. Alyse says:

    While I think it’s great that other have had a great experience with the Hertz Rent2Buy program, mine was extremely different. I have to say I was very skeptical in the beginning, and finally decided to try it out after visiting a Hertz Car Sales location where the people were excellent. Now let’s get one thing straight, the two are very different. The Car Sales Locations are essentially dealerships, the Rent2Buy is in a different category.

    Now, before I ever reserved a car, I choose the car I wanted by test driving it elsewhere. What I though was a fool proof way to ensure I didn’t waste $50-$150 dollars. This plan, however, did not work. Here is my experience:

    I arrived at the LAX Hertz location to pick up a 2012 Hyundai Elantra. It was priced at $13,500. Great price. When I got there they were on it at first, but then I ended up waiting about half an hour as they said they needed to wash the car because it gets dusty in the back where it was being kept. Sounded like a story, as I’ve never heard of a car wash taking half an hour.

    Finally the car arrived and it looked pretty good. A few scratches here and there, but I expected that. I approved and went inside to rent the car. Got the keys and headed off the lot. This is where this story goes down hill. As I was driving away I heard a noise, but thought it could be something minor and for the price it was worth getting it looked at by a trusted mechanic, which I was seeing the next day.

    By the time I got to the mechanic I had noticed a slight shaking, but still thought it was a small issue. After all, they had just checked the car. After spending a minimal amount of time with the car the trusted mechanic stated that I “should not buy this car.” It had an obvious transmission issue and the engine was shaking badly. He said he was shocked because it was a newer car.

    I then notified the Hertz car salesman I had been in contact with. He said they should have checked the car, but that it didn’t sound like they did. He was nice, but did nothing to resolve the issue of them renting out potentially dangerous vehicles. I then called the call center, where I was told that I will never know if a car was seen by a mechanic there as they do not release service records. I also expressed worry about driving a car with such issues and was merely told to return it that day if I wanted.

    By the time I returned the car, let’s just say I was less than thrilled. To make matters worse, the Los Angeles airport Hertz could have cared less, with the exception of agreeing I shouldn’t buy the car. The first person refused to let me speak to a manager until I loudly started speaking of them renting cars with transmission issues. Of course the other customers were rightfully concerned. When I did speak with a manager, he was the least manager like person I have ever met, saying “so….” in a snarky condescending manner. Not that that is ever ok, but especially not when your company is renting vehicles with serious issues. There was no “so” about it, the issues were quite clear. All the guy had to say is, that’s how the program works, and our mechanics must have checked the car. Although not one person could prove that, or even cared to look it up.

    The one saving grace for them was the second manager whom I spoke to. She was much more adult and acted like a manager, rather than a child annoyed with customers. She ultimately charged me for one day rather than two and made every effort, while saying the car would certainly be checked by a mechanic now and fixed before being rented again.

    While I very much appreciated this woman, my overall review of this program does not change. If you get lucky and get a good car, that is great. But on the other hand, you could waste quite a bit of time and money just trying to find a car that works. For me it’s difficult to get to the mechanic I want and back in their 2 free hours.

    Beyond the Rent2Buy program I was shocked by the magnitude of the problem I discovered with the vehicle as I always though rental car companies took excellent care of their cars maintenance wise. For me, the fact that they won’t release the maintenance records is now a big deal. Before this, I hadn’t thought much about it. Now, I really wonder why.

    Best of luck to anyone trying to use this program. I hope you all have better luck than I did.

    • Joe says:

      I also had a negative experience with the Hertz rent2buy program. On 11-16-2013 I made a reservation for a 2013 Meredez Benz GL 450 at the San Francisco Airport location. The price for this vehicle was $53,500. At this location there is a multi level garage so ambient lighting was not that great. I walked around the vehicle and noticed the paint on the right side was slightly dull and not as shiny as the left side but at the moment I thought i was just dirt and dust. So i made the mistake of driving the car away.

      The next day, I actually washed the car and started noticing the paint did not match the left side. I placed my palm and ran it across the left side and felt bump and rough edges. There was also overspray from obvious signs of repair to the paint. On the very rear window there were shop notes that were left imprinted from after repairs were made that said, “repair right side”. I was shocked to find that there was obvious collision repairs that were not disclosed to me at the time of the rental. I was going to be paying over $53,000 for a vehicle that had unknown damage to the side. Shame on Hertz for not being forthcoming with such information. I will caution anyone who is thinking about buying a rental car… I was not offer a discount or anything from the rental company so there is really no advantage to buying a used car from a so call “reputable” company when you take the role of a detective and find out all the defects yourself. If the company does not want to share vehicle records that should be a warning sign to go somewhere else.

      ……DO NOT BUY FROM HERTZ rent2buy program…..

  3. Jag says:

    Thanks for the review , very helpful. I had booked for test drive yesterday and read your review now. its good to know about sales tax,tire replacement, warranty.

    Would you like to know about trade-in process ? I want to sell my old car and adjust the pricing in this rent2buy program …any information ?

    Is it true, Hertz will not provide any maintenance records or information ?

    Is it true that Hertz will not provide/transfer the manufacturer warranty to the new owner. In other words new owner needs to call manufacturer to get it transferred ? is this correct ?

    Thanks

    • David Ritko (@AZritkodude) says:

      @ Jag
      Accoridng to the FAQ on the hertzcarsales.com website, they do not accept trade ins. Nor do tehy proved records. However, some manufactures will if you proved the VIN (provided on the Hertz website) I read from a poster in a money forum that Toyota’s website did this. As far as I know, the Manufacturer Warranty is attached to the car, Not the owner but I’m fairly sure you have to register it. But each manufacturer is different so check with them. Extended warranties are not transferable from what I understand. Herts does give each buyer a 60-day/2,000 mile limited warranty.

      We reserved a car as well and have already procured financing. I

  4. Andy Hough says:

    That sounds like a pretty good program. The cars I buy are always much older, but if I ever decide to buy a newer car I’ll keep this in mind.

  5. Caitlin says:

    Thanks for a great article. Did you guys also consider other rental car companies (I believe Enterprise also has something where they sell previously rented vehicles)?

    • Andy says:

      Hi Caitlin! We did look at Enterprise and Budget but they didn’t have as great of a selection in our area and the prices weren’t as competitive.

  6. Great article Andy. We recently purchased a new to us, but slightly (very slightly) used 2012 Honda Civic (with only 1200 miles on it). It is a great car (but Mrs. Thad Thoughts is afraid to drive it … doesn’t want to ding it).

    One more pro I would see in buying a car from Hertz Rent2Own is that they will have maintained the car well. It should have been serviced regularly and the inside detailed frequently too.

    • Andy says:

      Great point, Thad. They really seemed to have taken fairly good care of the car. I bought it with 39,000 miles on it and they check EVERYTHING at 30,000 miles. They also replaced the tires at 30,000 miles, so I am still riding on fairly new wheels!

  7. I had no idea that you could do this. The only hesitation I would have is buying a rental car knowing how I treat them. Also, Canada really lacks cool options like that.

    • Andy says:

      Marissa,

      I absolutely agree and that was one of the big worries that we had (and continue to have). Saying that, I’m not a mechanic and I’m not really sure how much more quickly cars wear down because they were driven hard. The big problems I’ve seen with cars is when they’re not maintained well (i.e. oil changes, transmission flushes, new brakes and tires, etc.). So, we’ll see how it goes. I felt like the savings in price could easily pay for a fairly large problem down the road. I am kind of playing with the house’s money in that regard.

  8. Shilpan says:

    I’ve contemplated a car purchase from a rental company before, but wasn’t sure if it’s really worth it. But, your experience gives me more insight, so I may consider this option next time. I once purchased used BMW Z4 from a dealership leasing company. The car was used by Coke executives, and was in immaculate condition with only 29K miles. It has been a great buy so far.

    • Andy says:

      I’d say that is a pretty good place to buy a car. :) You know those executives…always getting caught by the cops for racing 100 MPH down the highway.

  9. It’s true that there are a few madmen out there. But… they usually don’t rent from Hertz, who are often the most expensive. I may be wrong, but most Hertz customers are businesspeople (i.e. company pays) who are interested in simply getting the job done and getting home. I know I used them a ton for several years, and all I wanted was the trip done so I could get back home. Simple driving, in other words.

    It also depends on what you’re buying. If you were buying one of the infamous Shelby GT500′s, you had ought to worry about. If you’re buying a Taurus or Camry, you’re probably safe…

    • Andy says:

      William, thanks for the great comment and I couldn’t agree more with your assessment. These were actually many of the thoughts that went through my mind as well. I’ve rented a few cars and I’ve never “beat them up.” Sure, I may accelerate a little faster than normal but that’s not going to really hurt the car that much.

      I also thought the same thing about the make/model of the car. Certainly 6 cylinders and sports cars are going to get beaten up, but we went with a Camry. I’m pretty sure the only people renting those are businessmen, older folk, and people that need a family sedan.

  10. Sounds like it was a pretty smooth process. Though I’d never buy a car newer than 5 years, if I did, this would be a great option. And getting three days to test it out, take it to a mechanic, etc. is great.

    What car was it?

  11. Very interesting Andy! I never really thought of this but would personally worry about the people who drove them like madmen. I imagine that their mechanics keep them in decent shape though. Do they offer any sort of warranty?

    • Andy says:

      Good question…no warranties. The warranties only come from the manufacturer, so ours has a little coverage until 60,000. That was another reason I felt a comfortable about buying a rental. If something MAJOR starts to show any signs of going wrong then I’ll take it in and try to get it fixed before that warranty is up.

  12. This is good to know! I have always seen the sign when I rent cars at the airport and looked online, but have never actually heard of anyone going through with this. I would have thought that they would have more selection in the under $10K range, but that’s okay – it still may be a viable option compared to going to the “stealer”-ship.

    • Andy says:

      I think they try to get rid of the older cars before they ever approach 50-60k (which would equate to the lower price), but that does bring up a good question: what do they do with all of the higher-mileage cars? I’m guessing they sell them at an auction of some sort or possibly to dealerships.

  13. Eddie says:

    Glad you had a good experience.
    Being a car geek my self, I wouldn’t buy one from a rental place. I know how I treat rental cars, and would hate to buy one after someone drove it like me…LOL
    I also didn’t know you could do this, you’ve definitely peeked my interest to read up on it at least. :)

    • Andy says:

      The rental car thing certainly worried us, but all things considered it was too good of a deal to pass up. I have $2500 in my pocket that could be used for a major repair if something ever went out. That’s not to say that it would…so frankly (as I commented to Marissa) I’m playing with Hertz’s money. That’s money I get to keep IF nothing goes wrong, or it’s money I can use to pay for the repair if it so happens something does go bad.

      Furthermore, the 60,000 mile warranty from Toyota helped. While it’s not long before it gets to that, I thought I’d at least be able to see if something was wrong with the transmission or engine before I got to that point.

  14. I had no idea that you could do this. It sounds like a great idea! I mean, you get to test drive the car for 3 days instead of awkwardly trying to test drive it while the dealership person sits next to you and makes you go around the block once. And if they’re selling below blue book…well, I think this way of buying a car is a good idea for a lot of people!

    • Andy says:

      TB, it was something we hadn’t thought much about but we were really pleased with how the Rent2Buy program worked out. I think Hertz did a great job and even the mechanics were helpful. They told me as I drove off that if there were anything wrong with it during my test drive, to bring it back, and they’d get it fixed.

  15. Michelle says:

    Glad it went well for you! My friend bought a rental car as well and it went good for her too. Her husband is a mechanic so he was able to thoroughly check it out.

    • Andy says:

      We took our vehicle to a mechanic as well since I don’t know anything about cars. That made me feel a little better about the decision too!

  16. I agree. We actually came close to buying a Toyota RAV4 from them a few months ago – they had a ton available at that time. In the end, we decided to keep the money invested for a little longer. It’s earned us another $500 since then, so we’ll put the decision off until we HAVE to pull the trigger. But this is the place we will go.

    Thanks for providing a review of a real life experience.

    • Andy says:

      No problem William! I would have loved to wait a bit longer but we NEEDED a car. We’re driving our other one until it dies. It has about 196k on it and I’m hoping it makes it to 250!

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