Although we now live in New Zealand and have our own vehicle, we still use car rental companies. This article details our independent review of Hertz vs Apex, the two biggest car rental companies in New Zealand.
As I am sure you are aware, renting a car in New Zealand is quite easy, but the choices you have can throw you for a bit of a loop. It’s not just about getting a car and going. There is a bit of a balancing act required when trying to weight out the options available and what is important to you.
All agencies are not made the same, just like all customers are not the same. Of course, there are some standard things we all want, and then some things that matter more to some than to others. So we’re going to give you a glimpse into our experience so you can make your best decision.
We predominantly use Hertz or Apex which are the two largest car rental agencies in the country. We’ve hired them on our own trips and of course, we hired a car with Hertz when we visited The Bay of Islands for a family wedding (when we were living in Wellington and had to fly to Auckland) and we hired Apex for our crazy South Island adventure with my parents in 2016. When people come to visit we recommend them to our friends and family. So our goals is to give you our experiences and you can decide which agency is the best for you!
We have discussed three major points in our review;
- Customer Service;
- Condition of the vehicles;
- Price points;
And then we gave each category a score out of ten, with the total score at the bottom of this article.
Please Note: This is not a sponsored post, we have not been paid to write this review and all views are our own!
What is the customer service experience like?
For us, customer service is a major deal. We do our best to be kind and flexible when we’re dealing with anyone in the customer service industry and we expect the same in return. When judging customer service at car rental agencies, we look at the ease of dealing with the people and also the ease of the whole car rental process.
Apex is always located outside of the main terminal at airports in New Zealand. That means you have to ring them when you get to the airport. They will then have to pick you up and take you back to their location for inspections and paperwork. The whole process takes more time than if they were located in the terminal building and takes even more time if you are at one of the larger airports during busy hours. On all of our occasions we have found the pick-up and drop-offs to be hassle-free and only a 5 minute wait time on either side.
The human aspect of the customer service had its ups and downs. The staff was efficient, but they were not particularly personable. A “hello and how is your day?” can definitely go a long way in ensuring a transaction goes smoothly, but we did not have the opportunity for that sort of exchange with Apex staff. It was pretty much the vibe of let’s get down to business, sign the paperwork, hand your credit card over and collect your car.
In terms of logistics, Hertz airport counters are always inside the main terminal which is a big timesaver. The cars are parked right outside the terminal which makes it convenient for pick up and drop-offs.
On the human front, our experience with Hertz staff has been quite good. They’re usually super friendly and willing to entertain what in hindsight I can see as some pretty silly questions.
I do have to mention that staff do tend to upsell fuel top-ups and insurance, which was not so much fun, but they don’t push it after you respond with a polite, “no, thank you.”
Customer Service Score
What are the vehicle conditions like?
Apex is not the cheapest car rental company operating in New Zealand and they aren’t the most expensive either. In our opinion, they promote towards the more budget-conscious traveller who also values safety and middle of the road vehicles! Overall the vehicles are not bad, but they certainly have a “lived-in” sort of feel but they are clean on the inside and everything works, the cars are just a few years older in comparison to Hertz.
Hertz offerings are usually newer. (2 years or less) We have had our car upgraded which gave us the full experience of a new, flashy, fuel-efficient car. But even without the upgrade, you are going to be getting a newer model car (and of course you will see the pricing reflect that).
Vehicle Condition Score
How much am I going to pay for a car rental in New Zealand?
Apex is definitely the less expensive option when compared to Hertz. Apex’s small budget vehicles come in at half the cost of equivalents over at Hertz. They do have more budget vehicles available than Hertz but the larger newer vehicles of their range is on par with Hertz in high season (see below) .
Renting a car from Hertz means you will be paying a lot more than you would at most other car rental agencies on small and medium-sized cars. You will also pay more for luxury and larger vehicles.
We did a quick comparison for you, for car rental bookings for the summer of next year (1st – 10th February 2020) and winter of next year (1st – 10th July 2020) so you can have a look at the costs yourself. The prices you see below are based upon a 10-day rental.
Interesting Hertz didn’t have a seasonal price difference which certainly is a game-changer to your decision-making process if you are coming to NZ next winter. Apex was considerably lower during low season but only marginally lower in price in high season.
Which car rental company was right for us – Apex or Hertz?
We personally preferred our experience with Hertz due to a variety of reasons. The customer service played a big part, picking up and dropping vehicles was very easy and the staff very helpful.
Additionally, we found that the quality of vehicles at Hertz was superior to those at Apex. Of course, this has a lot to do with the fact that the vehicles are newer so they do have less wear and tear.
Hertz is more expensive, but when renting a larger vehicle there is a smaller gap between pricing and we were willing to pay those extra dollars for the comfort of the experience.
It is important to note, that your travel goals may be different than ours. Perhaps you’d rather spend less on car hire and more on hotels and food. Maybe, you are not into pleasantries yourself and don’t care whether or not the staff is. Maybe you have particular vehicle requirements that can only be fulfilled by one company or the other.
What we have provided here is an overview of our experience. You can use this information to help you make a more informed decision about your car hire in New Zealand, too book your hire car you can use the widget below!