I got off the plane and headed down to the rental car shuttle pickup outside of Dallas Love Field. Opened my phone and clicked on the SilverCar app and clicked on the button for a pickup. It gave me the choice of a text or a call so I sent the automated text which then brought a driver pulling up a few minutes later in a nice new silver Audi A4. He helped us with our bag and started to drive us over to their facility. As he did he gave me a quick explanation of all the cars controls and by the time he was done, we were there. Next, he verified my Drivers License and Credit Card and we scanned the cars QR code and we were off. I have to say it was a pretty nice in person experience and introduction to what SilverCar means to disrupt.
I’ve got to be honest and tell you that I wanted to not have a good first experience and impression. I wanted the pickup to be botched and the car not to live up to the hype of some of the reviews I had read online. Mainly because of my initial app experience placing the reservation and their short-sighted policy to only accept major credit card holders. This was going to be a bad review for those reasons, but I’ve changed my mind it will be my in-depth experience with SilverCar and you can decide if it’s right for you.
Bad First Impressions
For starters if you do not have a credit card like myself then you are shit out of luck trying to use SilverCar. I’m sure this is for business and liability reasons but it’s pretty short sighted to think that everyone has a credit card. Some of us, 30% of the US, live debt free and have no need or use for credit cards. Recent studies have shown that 40% of young adults say they have no interest in using a credit card. SilverCar is missing out on good size audience that is growing and their target mobile app audience. Other major rentals car companies have been accommodating to debit card users so should SilverCar if they want to capture this market. That wasn’t the worst part of my initial experience but it’s all related.
When I tried to get support for this issue to see if there was a workaround, or if they could hold the funds and take a deposit, it was a pretty direct no with no other offers of help or assistance. In various channels, I was told they only accept major credit cards with an attitude go use another service we don’t want to try to accommodate you.
On some level I get it, it’s their model so everyone tows the line, but in this day and age of service meaning everything it was a pretty poor experience. When you are a startup you need to build that brand and what I received was not very welcoming and a poor first impression. There was no offer to work around this issue or an offer to help me get a different rental service.
Once I had reserved an Alamo car for a Las Vegas trip in which they overbooked and ran out of cars, they immediately apologized and got me a car from a competitor as soon as possible with an upgrade at the rate they quoted me. Now that’s service via traditional car rental. This new disruptive on demand rental service should do better than the incumbent businesses.
I ended up having to use my company’s credit card, which I reimbursed as soon as the trip was done. What a pain in the ass. Normally I would have said the hell with them and written the bad review but this was 1 day before my vacation started and I was pretty hard against time to make a new reservation at another place.
Is it more expensive?
It might seem like it is more expensive than traditional car rentals but when you add the type of car you get, the VIP car pickup, plus all the add-ons it seems to come out equal and worth the price. In Texas, there are a lot of toll roads and the car had the toll transponder included in the price. If you want to give SilverCar a try use my referral code KCQDJXVS and get $25 off your first rental.
I’m not a car reviewer but really what would the SilverCar experience be if you didn’t talk about the silver Audi A4 Quattro. Let’s just say that the car is decked out with every option you can put on a stock Audi A4 including Sirius satellite radio, Wifi, Bluetooth, Nav, independent climate controls..and so much more. It drives like a dream, very smooth to handle and the engine goes vroom with the 2.0 Liter 4-cylinder engine putting out 252 horsepower. I even received a compliment on the car at one of our stops!
Overall I couldn’t be happier with the car, it was super comfy and made the 1,200 miles across Texas go by with little fatigue. It fit all our luggage which was 2 large checked bags and 3 laptop bags in the trunk. We had to put the additional carry-on bag in the back seat.
My one major complaint is not that the car had navigation but it was with the navigation itself. The navigation in the car is a pain to use and it sent us into the wrong location a couple of times and one night wanted to me take left into the wall which held up a bridge. Luckily I wasn’t pulling a Michael Scott and clearly could tell there was no left turn to take. If I was an owner of an A4 I would look to replace that or just use my phone. I recommend that you do turn on audio queues because without them the map and center control will get you more lost and confused and probably put you into a car wreck. You would think with the price of the car and navigation they could get you something that worked better than your iPhone. Once we returned the car the serviceman mentioned we shouldn’t have used the Google Maps and instead the default maps. Wish I had known that was an option.
The Return & Conclusion
We were in Dallas for the last day which was a fun time. The flight took off late at night so wasn’t till 8pm when we had to head back to the SilverCar office. It was as simple as going to the navigation and selecting the preprogrammed location. We drove there and met the serviceman who inspected the car quickly and drove us off to the airport. It ended how it began at Dallas Love Field where the serviceman helped us with our bags and we were off to our gate.
Overall SilverCar is a great concept and something I would do again if I had a credit card I could borrow again or if they change their policy. If they could figure out how to server debit card users I would be a loyal SilverCar customer every time I travel. The car is great and it’s very convenient service. Open your phone and click the app and you’ve got a car.
If you want to give SilverCar a try use my referral code KCQDJXVS and get $25 off your first rental. Currently, there are SilverCar’s available at these locations:
- Austin (AUS) — Austin-Bergstrom International Airport
- Brooklyn (BKLN) — Brooklyn, New York: McCarren Hotel & Pool
- Chicago O’Hare (ORD) — Chicago O’Hare International Airport
- Dallas Love Field (DAL)- Dallas Love Field
- Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) — Dallas Ft. Worth International Airport
- Denver (DEN) — Denver International Airport
- Ft. Lauderdale (FLL) — Ft. Lauderdale–Hollywood Intl Airport
- Las Vegas (LAS) — Las Vegas, McCarran International Airport
- Los Angeles (LAX) — Los Angeles International Airport
- Miami (MIA) — Miami International Airport
- New York City (NYC) — New York City: Manhattan (W. 42nd)
- Newark (EWR) — Newark Liberty International Airport
- Phoenix (PHX) — Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
- San Francisco (SFO) — San Francisco International Airport
Update June 2016: Looks like SilverCar just announced its continued expansion into the New York area with the launch of Silvercar at the Newark Airport and in Brooklyn.
Update August 2018: This service just keeps getting better. Since my initial rental and writing a lot has happened. Surprise, surprise Audi acquired Silvercar in March 2017 and things haven’t changed from what has made them great. If anything things have gotten a lot better. Silvercar has added another 9 airport locations and 5 in town locations. They’ve also added 2 more silver models to the fleet. You can now choose between the SUV Audi Q5 and in some select locations the Audi A5 Cabriolet. I’ve also moved from San Diego to Austin, TX Silvercar’s home city.