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dollar-rent-a-car-dca-logoI thought I’d share a quick post about my experiences with Dollar Rent-a-Car in Washington DC this past weekend, which were…. not so good 🙂  Some of my experiences may be just due to overall business (the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington was also the same weekend), so I can’t tell if this is a systemic issue at the Dollar Rent-a-Car DCA location or not, but there are still a few things that, if I had known about it sooner, I might have chosen to rent somewhere other than Dollar Rent-a-Car DCA.

Dollar Rent-a-Car DCA location

The biggest problem I had with Dollar Rent-a-Car DCA was its location – unlike most of the other rental car companies at DCA, Dollar Rent-a-Car DCA is off-site.  See the below map for an idea


I did not realize Dollar Rent-a-Car DCA was off-airport, so I walked from Terminal A through the underground walkway over to the rental car terminal (where Avis, Hertz, etc. are), only to find out that Dollar Rent-a-Car DCA was NOT there, so I had to take a shuttle back to Terminal A, and then the Dollar shuttle off-airport over to the actual location.

Once I finally got over to Dollar Rent-a-Car DCA, there was about a 20 minute line to process my application, and then I went outside and waited another 20 minutes or so for a car to be ready.

I had actually signed up for Dollar Express, which in theory is supposed to let you skip the line, though I only signed up the night before and for whatever reason, it takes 1-3 days to process?!?  I’m not sure it would have made a difference anyways, since there weren’t any cars available?

Dollar Rent-a-Car DCA car

I rented a Compact Car, which was what most of us in line had, and there weren’t any Compact cars.  Some were being returned, some were being processed, and there were Dollar Rent-a-Car DCA employees just driving in cars (I don’t know where they were coming from!?).  After my 20 minute wait and I was at the front of the line, a car drove up, the Dollar Rent-a-Car DCA employee checked it over for like 30 seconds and then gave me the keys and said I was all set.

I know I say to never rent a “standard” car, but I was underwhelmed by my Chevy Spark.  It was definitely a “cheap” car, and the one feature I really missed was a CD player.  I had brought along a book on CD to listen to but there was no way to do so.  I know you kids with your fancy iPods and such, but that was definitely a bummer.

Dollar Rent-a-Car DCA cost

One thing I can’t personally complain about was the cost.  I had used Autoslash (my review), one of my Top 10 miles and points tools, and they had found me a deal for only $32 for a 2 day (technically 1.5 day) rental.  While in the aforementioned LOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNNNGGGGGG line, I heard that the guy in front of me was renting for the exact same length of time (pick up Friday afternoon, drop off Saturday evening) and was quoted $65 (love the vagaries of rental car pricing!)

This was actually my 2nd time renting a car at DCA, and the experiences could NOT have been more different.  Last time, I rented at Avis (which is on-airport), and because of my Avis Preferred status (which I got for free), I was in and out of the car rental place in about 5 minutes.

(SEE ALSO: Avis changing the car rental price when I add my Wizard number)

This time, even though I landed a few minutes early at about 11:20 a.m., it was nearly 1pm before I was actually on the road

Looking at the 91 reviews on the Google location for Dollar Rent-a-Car DCA (average rating, 1.7 out of 5 stars), I can see that I am not alone!  Next time I’m at DCA, I’ll pay a few bucks extra and go for one of the other chains!


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