Avis Introduces Pick Your Own Car and Upgrade Yourself

Since June Avis has been rolling out new features branded as “Select&GO” which I experienced for the first time at their Miami airport location.

Normally they generate a rental contract for Preferred members their flights land, that’s what they do with the flight information you add to your reservation. Arrivals generate contracts auto-printing.

Now they send an email with car information and space number, there’s no contract in the car, you show your drivers license at the checkout booth and they print a contract to hand to you.

Now, I assume because I have status with Avis they actually assigned my car early and that generated an email to me. I was about to leave for the airport, I hadn’t even taken off yet. I don’t actually like the Chrysler 300 so I rang up and asked if I could have something else. They offered me a choice between a Ford Taurus and a Lincoln MKZ. I chose the Lincoln.

When I arrived at the rental facility I saw the signage referenced in the email showing a row to the left for exchanging your car, pick something out of the exchange aisle (a la National’s Emerald Aisle). And to the right is an ‘upgrade aisle’ with higher end cars each with a published upgrade price per day.

Two cars were in the Exchange row:

There were six or eight cars available for upgrade.

Prices ranged from $50 to $125 per day.

There was actually a contract in my vehicle when I arrived. So when I drove to the checkout booth I handed them my license and they wanted to see my contract, they explained that once a contract has been printed they need to see that rather than their printing it for you.

Ultimately I suspect that this is going to disadvantage Avis elites, since they’ll be monetizing upgrades better than before ad I imagine less inclined to give away the best cars as a complimentary bump up. Although this doesn’t strike me as an unreasonable strategy.

Off of a cheap rate and for a non-elite in some cases there will be some values for luxury vehicles, you might get a $25 per day rate and get a luxury or higher vehicle for a total then of $75 per day, when it would have cost double that to pre-reserve the car.

Although I suspect that some folks will just make impulse purchases at the last minute seeing a bright shiny BMW or Corvette, whereas in the past without a price there was more of a barrier to making the switch, plus the required wait at the counter to do so.

The participating locations so far are:

  • Albuquerque
  • Atlanta
  • Austin
  • Baltimore
  • Chicago ORD
  • Dallas DFW
  • Denver
  • Fort Lauderdale
  • Fort Myers
  • Houston Hobby
  • Houston IAH
  • Indianapolis
  • Kansas City
  • Las Vegas
  • Los Angeles
  • Miami
  • Minneapolis
  • Oakland
  • Orlando
  • Phoenix
  • Seattle
  • San Antonio
  • San Francisco
  • San Jose
  • St. Louis

Have you used Select&Go yet? Have you exchanged or upgraded your vehicle? What’s been your experience?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. When I used it at Miami, someone took my assigned car as an exchange . They tried to give me a full-size without an upgrade. It was quite a hassle to get the car, eventually I got a lincoln. Gary what number did you use to ring up? I’m arriving at 6:30 today but no email yet.

  2. Used it at DFW and SFO in the past few weeks. DFW usually has between 6-8 vehicles to choose from, and SFO had 10. The vehicles ranged from mid size to small SUV. If fuel economy is not a concern, this is a great way to shave off a few dollars off the rental charge, since you can rent an intermediate and exchange into a full-size or bigger for no extra charge.

  3. As I’ve said in other posts as both a leisure traveler and a car guy National’s pick-your-own is my travel “killer app.” I can see this as opening up real competition, especially if they keep the diversity of offering cars like that Mustang (which may not the the fanciest but is something I rarely if ever see the like on in Executive Selection at my airports) while upping the number of cars to pick from.

  4. That corvette looks nice. Wouldn’t mind trying one.

    I lost well over 125 lbs so I now easily fit into the Vette. Before, I was north of 300 lbs and would not fit into a Vette.

  5. I guess Avid decided they needed to do this since Hertz did it a while back. It’s been nice getting my assigned car ahead of time so no need to stop by the board (which in some locations is a little out of the way, though not a big deal) and having the choice to upgrade. I haven’t actually upgraded at all yet though.

  6. National had something like this in MSP over the weekend.

    They had painted an area of the floor green, and on that space were two cars with upgrade pricing on the windshied.

    I did not look to far in to it as they had the car I wanted on the Executive Aisle…

    But, I had never seen this before at any other National location.

  7. Yes, I was about to say that @Lark. At MSP National seems to now be taking what USED to be in the Executive Emerald Aisle and wanting to charge more for it. It looks like they see what their competition is doing, and want a piece of that upgrade cash. It was very depressing to see them removing benefits. 🙁

  8. Didn’t see either “option” aisle at SFO last night….lot’s of “cool car signage” and other misc.; but nothing directly related to this. I suspect people like ptahcha like the SUV upgrade in SFO for the wine-hauling capabilities. 😉

    FWIW: I got my “Select&GO” about 15 minutes after landing, but a good hour before scehduled pick-up (left time for some food and drink at Cat Cora’s).

  9. Turns out I got it after I got to Avis and saw someone else in my spot (with a car I would’ve preferred to the one that they were offering me).

  10. Had this for the first time at LAX two week ago. I rented a full size and recieved a SUV owing to presidents club status. I found that the exchange were for all cars that would be lower in cat or equal to full size nothing matched the two cat upgrade I get. As I did not have time to discuss at the window I took the little SUV, given more time I might move over to a more comfortable sedan as I was dropping in at SJC. Agree that this will likely knock the upgrades back a bit.

  11. Did it at BWI 2 weeks ago. Perfect experience. Didnt know anything about it. Exchanged my sedan for a nice SUV. If I were flying to a destination serviced by two competing airports, this feature would definitely be a factor in my decision.

  12. March 2013 LAX National Executive level. Pick your own car. Got a choice between a red Mustang or White one. Chose the red one just because I could. Beautiful drive. Recommended. 🙂

  13. Reserved a compact car at MCO, July 2013. Upon arrival, received the contract via email and proceed to go pick up the car which turned out to be a (boring but fuel-economic) white Chevy Cruze. And then I saw it – a screamin’ yellow Jeep Wrangler with black convertible top – in the FREE exchange aisle. Needless to say, I exchanged. Quickly. No upcharge, just lots of cruising fun for my family over the next few days in Florida! 😀

    Hoping for a repeat on next week’s family trip to Orlando. Flying into MCO again, so keeping my fingers crossed.

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