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My family just got back from a weeklong vacation on the Big Island of Hawaii. We’d rented a car with Budget Car Rental, and unfortunately, it didn’t go as smoothly as I’d expected.
For a previous trip, I’d joined Fastbreak, Budget’s free loyalty program for travelers who want their rental rides fast. I had a good experience my first time with Fastbreak so I was unprepared for what happened the next time.
What is Budget Fastbreak?
Budget’s Fastbreak Program is a loyalty program for Budget rent-a-car customers. The program takes pride in handling your rental experience expeditiously. Here’s how it works.
You sign up to become a Fastbreak member on Budget’s website or via the Budget app. You’ll have to provide credit card details to complete your membership profile, but there’s no cost to join.
Then, during rental pick-up, you simply go to the Fastbreak line (which is separate from the line for non-members), show your valid driver’s license, grab your keys, and go. The express service lets you skip the line and get on with your trip.
When it’s time to return your rental vehicle, you simply drop it off, and Budget emails you a receipt. Fast track, all the way. And because it doesn’t cost anything to join, it seems like a sweet deal.
First impression = Budget Fastbreak is a great perk
I first tried Fastbreak on a family trip to Kauai in 2017. I’d booked my car through Costco Travel (a third-party site), and chose Budget as my provider. Before we flew to Kauai, I created a free Fastbreak account with Budget.
Fastbreak came in very handy. There was a long line at the Budget office at the Kauai airport, but I got quick help because I had a Fastbreak account. I was out of there in minutes.
This meant we were able to start our Hawaiian vacation quickly, and who doesn’t want that? C’mon, just look at that line in the picture below!
But then …
Eight months later, in March 2018, I booked a minivan for a family trip to the Big Island of Hawaii. I made the reservation through Priceline and chose Budget as the rental company.
When we got to the Budget rental location at the airport, I was shocked to see the long lines …. so I was thrilled to see the Fastbreak queue with NO ONE waiting. I confidently went to that queue with my driver’s license ready to go, and as expected, I was called to be assisted next.
I gave the agent my Fastbreak number, and he asked if I’d booked directly with Budget. I said, no, I’d booked with Priceline and chosen Budget. In my mind, this wasn’t any different than what had happened when we went to Kauai, when I’d booked a Budget vehicle via Costco Travel.
The agent said you’re eligible for Fastbreak program benefits only if you book directly with Budget (and not with a third-party booking system like Costco or Priceline). I didn’t want to cause a scene, so I left the counter and went all the way outside where the long lines stretched.
The long line to rent a car at Budget’s office on the Big IslandWhile I was in line, I had all the time in the world to check Fastbreak’s Global Terms and Conditions. There was nothing specific that mentioned that Fastbreak benefits apply only to direct bookings with Budget. NOTHING.
The nitty-gritty annoyance I learned about Budget Fastbreak
Turns out that all prepaid, third-party reservations must be handled at the counter, not in the Fastbreak line. I learned this from a Twitter exchange with a Budget customer service rep, who confirmed that this information wasn’t included in Fastbreak’s terms and conditions.
I pointed out that Budget should specify that for Fastbreak benefits to work, the car rental must be booked directly with Budget. I left the Twitter conversation at that.
For those of you who have Fastbreak, what has been your experience renting a car? Have you always booked directly with Budget to get this perk to work for you? Or have you also booked with third-party sites — and what was the outcome?
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I recently rented from Budget using airline reward mile redemption (hold your criticism on the economics of that, but rental rates for the weekend were high and I place a very low value on these miles in question) booked through the reward site. When booking there was a field to input a Fastbreak number and I did. At most there were two other customers in line at pickup but I was welcomed at the Fastbreak counter and received normal Fastbreak recognition/benefits. It doesn’t surprise me that Budget is looking to penalize anyone who goes the Priceline/Pre-paid route.
I’m learning that from all of the replies here….and will try that moving forward.
Rented using Costco & my FASTBREAK number out of LAX. Special area, show license, take any car, free upgrade to the feature car (a pickup truck, no thanks), car choice included a high-end Nissan “Z-Car” (not enough room for my overseas goodies though). Fast and easy, just as promised, even through a “3rd-Party” rental reservation.
I used Fastbreak based on the advice above. Called Budget Customer Service to make sure the number was on my reservation. All ok right? Got to the counter at the lot and they had no record that I was a Fastbreak customer. After searching he found it. BUT he asked for a credit card and I used a different one than I had used for fastbreak whichhe said was ok. So off I went (I had avoided the line). Within 10 min the original cc was billed for OVER the amount of the rental . Got a fraud alert from my bank who denied the charge originating from Budget, closed my account and issued me a new card. Inside job? Hmmmmmm . Hesitate to use them again. That has never happened to me with any other company.
Costco Travel has a field for Fastbreak when renting from Budget, it passes through and works well.
Thank you…I will keep that in mind. This helps!
I think I understand why the Costco Travel works with Fastbreak. Costco travel is a travel agency. They are not a third party site. Costco Travel will make your reservation with Budget.
I’ve always used Autoslash (which used Priceline), and haven’t had issues with getting fastbreak service (or other hertz gold/alamo insider etc).
The only thing to note is that i never use prepaid rates, always pay-at-counter rates.
I’ll have to remember this moving forward. I used Autoslash too in the past, and that might have been what I did last summer when I was not given any issues on Kauai. Also, it’s weird, I didn’t prepay either. I just booked with Priceline and I know the actual charge took place on the time I returned the car.
I had the same thing happen a year ago in Kauai. I had to wait in the long line too. It was disappointing, but it helps you slow down to Hawaiian time:)
When we arrived back in Kauai for a second week, my wife left the plane and went straight to the Budget counter, while I stayed behind with the kids and got the luggage. This cut the wait out, as she arrived to the counter before the others on the plane.
Yeah, the lady who finally assisted me, was really helpful, and when I asked her about the Fastbreak policy, she restated the same thing that it must booked directly with them, or as some folks here noted, there’s a way use the field using the Costco site. She said if it wasn’t crowded, they would normally make exceptions.
Alas, that’s the whole point of the fast break program — to give you expedited service precisely when it IS crowded. So sorry Jason you had to go through this infuriating experience. Yet much, much appreciate you posting your experience here — so we can all be forewarned about this. We’ve learned something valuable — for us.
ps: Next time I see my favorite budget manager, I’ll let her know what I think of this awful policy. That said, I never use priceline or any third party service (other than Chase UR) for renting Budget. Budget web site (using aarp codes) almost always gives me the very best rates anywhere….. and that’s before I use the “pay now” option for travel I’m sure of….
Thanks, escot. Based on the tips and comments on this thread, there are new things I learned and things I want to make sure I follow moving forward. But yes, I think it is worth mentioning to the other managers about the issues some of us have faced.
I.alwaus book through southwest when in book my fligjt and have neber jad an issue even when my fastbreak number wasn’t on my reservation.
I also have never prepaid. Based on this i never will either.
I didn’t think that booking with Costco or Priceline ahead of time was considered “prepaid” since the online booking just “reserved” a car for me. The actual payment was taken on the day that I turned in the vehicle
Going through Costco is not prepaid. Also, there is a field to enter your Fastbreak number. I travel frequently and always book my rental cars through Costco. I have never had a problem getting my Fastbreak benefits. Another good thing to keep in mind with Costco, since you do not pay in Advance and there are no cancellation fees, you can cancel and re-book if the price drops (happens a lot). Several times I’ve had a Budget employee comment on the low price I received. Once the employee told me my rate was cheaper than what he’d get as a Budget employee. Costco is the way to go!
Thank you. Correct, I’ve learned my lesson since this post was from last year. I have an upcoming trip and have applied my lessons-learned.
I just booked a Budget rental car via Costco for Maui (OGG) location.
The Costco checkout page still has a field for the Budget FastBreak #.
I hope it still passes through!
Anyone book at the Maui OGG recently via Costco?
Let me how it goes, but I’m thinking you should be okay since you were able to indicate that you’re a Fastbreak member before your trip. Good luck.
I always book through Costco and always receive fastbreak service if I included it in my reservation. Same goes for Hertz Gold, National Emerald etc…
I never ever prepay for car rentals.
Thanks for sharing. Lots of lessons-learned here. I will keep that in mind.
I do the same thing as you. I almost always book on Orbitz due to there amazing prices. But then right after i book it I call Budgets customer service and tell them my reservation isn’t showing under my fast break account. They ask for my confirmation number and my fastbreak ID and within 2 mins of me calling they have it added under my fastbreak account. I’ve never had an issue doing it this way.
I always book through Costco travel. It seems like Budget always has the best rates. So with that, I joined Fastbreak. I went in to my Fastbreak account today and the reservation was not there that I made. I entered the Budget res. number from the Costco res. I logged out and then back in and Fastbreak captured it. Leaving Saturday for Hawaii and will test Fastbreak!
Ok cool….please do share how Fastbreak works out for you. I’m certain it’s going to be better than my experience since I didn’t get to do any of that prior to my trip.
Returned from the Big Island last night. Using Budget Fastbreak worked as planned. They had my folder ready and finished paperwork, then was on my way. Nice that I didn’t have to wait in that long line. Even got upgraded to car with GPS!
Nice!!! Welcome back….and thank you for sharing your experience. It’s a definite lesson-learned for me. I will keep that in mind.
When using fastbreak for the very first time, I’m assuming I go to the fastbreak counter with my ID. Also, do they ask for the credit card you booked with and do they charge anything at the counter at that time or only when returning the car? How much do they charge before I leave with the rental? I’m worried because this will be my very first time renting a car using fastbreak. 36yo here so age isn’t a issue either.
Do you have to be a member to book through Costco Travel? Also I noticed Priceline now has a field to enter Fastbreak number in it. This is for non pre-paid, pay later rates. Anyone try this since the changes? Were they able to use the Fastbreak line with Priceline this way? ty
We’ve been flying in/out of SFO for decades and learned that the regular counter lines regardless of vendor there are horribly long, stretching the entire length of the reservation floor. To counter this, always….always….register for the company’s “rapid” membership and head directly to the 2nd or 3rd floor kiosk to avoid the painful lines. I’ve noticed that you’ll always get a lower car rental if you bundle through Expedia (all all their other companies they bought out still operating under their original names), but if you can’t tie in your “rapid” membership number it’s just not worth the few dollars savings to wait an hour or two in line. If you book directly with Budget, make sure you’re signed up for both Rapid Rez and Fast Break. Curiously enough, it was cheaper booking on the Budget website than bundling our rental through Expedia on our upcoming reservation. Costco has great prices, I’ll have to make sure there’s a place to enter our Fast Break membership number next trip. Good luck, just beware SFO is probably one of the busiest airports in the country, subject to flight delays because of weather and runway work, so anything to step up the rental process and get you on your way is a necessity anymore.
I have a booking with Budget at OGG in Maui and am due to pick it up tomorrow. I booked the rental online with Budget website to make the reservation. Today I went to add the FASTBREAK thinking it would save me time at the airport at arrival and departure.
When I got activated and looked at my account I checked pending reservations and it showed none.
I called Budget Customer Care and asked why my reservation was not linked.
I was told that only reservations made using FASTBREAK account are activated for FASTBREAK.
I asked if she could link my reservation to my FASTBREAK. She said it may add an extra cost or increase my cost. Once she checked, she said it would increase my cost by $50 for the rental. So I said not to do it.
So beware, BUDGET FASTBREAK only works if you make reservation using it. Also, the FASSTBREAK price may/will be a higher cost for your rental in order to get the convenience. I found my price using Budget rental web site and it was better than what I found online using Expedia.
I’ve run into this problem at Avis before. The only thing I’ve found solves that is if you can get a hold of the local rental place (not the general customer service from the 800 number)
Have fastbreak and had to wait is line for 20 mins and car was not ready!!
I just signed up…did not see my reservation. I prepaid for my reservation on the Budget site, yet when I called to find out why my fast break did not list my reservation, I was also told I would have to wait thru the long ass line, that everyone who does prepaid has to do this the first time….I was like…why did I just sign up for this. I only rent a car ever 2 or 3 years…I just read the web site where it says I can skip the lines. They said it was in the terms of conditions for pre pay. I had them pull it up and look for them. We looked together and did not see them. The whole thing gave me a bad experience with BUDGET and I want to cancel my whole reservations. I don’t like bait and switch. I only rented from them because of the fastbreak option. Now they are going to charge me 50 dollars to cancel.
I was standing in an hour long line for Budget in PHX and I saw a sign for Fastbreak members that they could skip the line. I had booked my reservation on Priceline. I signed up while standing in line. I left the line and went straight to the cars. There was only one person ahead of me. They honored my new membership no problem.
Thanks all for sharing this info! I had missed the FastBreak number spot on Costco – so I rebooked with that and canceled the earlier reservation. I then logged into Budget – it wasn’t there. As Ron suggested above, I pulled up the reservation with the confirmation number, then logged out. Logged back in an it was there in by FastBreak reservations! Using this on NYE in a few days, and am looking forward to bypassing the line, while still getting my awesome Costco rate. 🙂
I made a reservation through Budget’s Latin America franchise. My reservation was not in my account, called many times Budget and they told me that should be handled with their LatAm office. Finally I asked the Twitter account as last resource and they were the only ones who could link my reservation to my account
I’ve used Budget Fastbreak for years, as their airport lines in Orlando FL are reliably longer than the TSA line. Not sure why none of the other rental companies have this challenge. Several customers in line went all the way up to the FASTBREAK counter during the open hours, failed to find their vehicles ready, and the counter closed. So we all trek our stuff back over to the airport, wait through the long ass line, where it is evident that the right hand doesn’t even know of the left. Bottom line: when using this “service” it is wise to call ahead and take whatever time is necessary to ensure all of your reservation details, payment, etc. Are all in order lest you are likely to be punished at 11pm with their lack of customer service. In the future, I will be using their competitors unless there is a significant price difference, as my time has a price and their BS just isn’t worth saving $50 for a 1.5 hour delay and extra stress.