It might be that you haven’t heard of Silvercar before. Don’t worry me neither until recently. Silvercar is a Next-Gen car rental company of the web 2.0 age. I found out about Silvercar through my Founderscard membership (I will do a post about it in the near future, check back for discounts on the membership). Everything is handled online or via their app, which is available for Android and iOS.
The idea behind it is pretty simple. You book your car and you will always get a premium car, which will be a silver Audi A4 (only in Denver you can also rent an Audi Q5). That means you always know what you get and you don’t need to hope if you get upgraded, you already got the upgrade. First of all you have to do the reservation online or via your app. You select your airport and the dates and it will give you your rental estimate. But with Silvercar it’s pretty important that you actually keep up with the times of your rentals not only the day. If you need the car longer or not as long as rented it is no problem, you call them and let them know. The only problem you could run into is, if you want to extend your rental and they are already booked out for the extension period. Right now you will need to have the app installed at your phone to actually start your rental or unlock your car. So make sure you install it as soon as possible.
I was heading to San Francisco for a couple days and made my reservation online and also installed the app on my Android phone. After singing up for an account you have to fill out your profile information with your credit card and drivers licence details. You will get a confirmation email with your rental details and also your app will know all the information about your upcoming rental. Check your app what to do once you arrive at the airport.
For San Francisco you have to go upstairs to the departures level and take the Park ‘N Fly Shuttle to their lot. Follow the signs inside the airport for the parking shuttle signs and once you get outside cross the street and get onto the island. There look for the blue and white stripped curb and wait for the Park ‘N Fly Shuttle to show up. Once you board let the driver know that you will pick up a Silvercar. The app also tells me that I should press a button in the app to let Silvercar know that I am on my way. But that didn’t worked very well with my smart phone. Because the app tries to open the messaging app and send a SMS to Silvercar. Unfortunately it didn’t recognize my messaging app I used. It was not the pre-installed app, maybe that was the problem. Since it was my first rental with this company they have the policy, that for the first rental an agent will greet you and confirm the credit card data and your driver’s licence. This is a safety precaution.
After a short bus ride I arrived at the Park ‘N Fly lot just north of the airport. After I stepped of the bus I was asked by a Park ‘N Fly agent if i contacted Silvercar. I explained the situation that it was not working and they told me they will call them.
After a short wait the Silvercar agent showed up with my silver Audi, which I will drive the next couple days. She verified my data really quick and explained me all the details about the car and the service.
Now to start your rental you have to scan the little QR-code which is at the driver’s side front window. This will unlock the car and open the trunk automatically. Even that my car was already unlocked, because the agent just drove it up to my waiting location.
I loaded my suitcases into the car and prepared myself to head off to the hotel, because it was already late that day and I was tired.
About the car…
For me an Audi A4 is nothing special. Growing up just about 30 minutes away from Ingolstadt, where Audi has its main factory and HQ. I was driving and riding in many different Audi models before, but for the US this car brings you to a whole new level. This car is definitely different from the cars you usually get at regular car rental companies.
All the Silvercar Audi’s have built-in navigation, which is way better as the Hertz Neverlost systems. All cars have bluetooth connectivity for hands free phone calling and also for audio streaming, which works great with the built-in WiFi. Yes the car has WiFi. That means if you want to save data on your phone, turn on your WiFi on your smart phone and connect to the Silvercar WiFi network. Now you can stream music, browse the web and many more things and of course you only do it when you are parked ;).
But that is not all. Also satellite radio is included at no additional charge and for the Bay Area the car comes with Fastrak, which will let you pay tolls without stopping to pay cash. You won’t get charged a service fee for having Fastrak. You only get charged for the tolls you had to pay during your trip. No matter if it’s one time across the Golden Gate Bridge or ten times. You only pay what you use.
But best of all is, that you don’t have to buy any pre-paid fuel or have to worry to fill up the gas tank before you return the car. Silvercar will charge you only the local pump prices at gas stations plus a 5$ fuel refill fee, which is actually not bad. Be also aware if you want to fill up the tank yourself, that you only use premium-grade fuel with 89 octane or higher.
But if you are Founderscard member, as I am, you get the 5$ fuel refill fee waived as well as the fuel costs itself and you get a 15% discount on every rental. This is a great bonus for Founderscard members.
Dropping off was also very easy. I had to return my car earlier as scheduled and just replied to the text message I got earlier that day from Silvercar to remind me about my drop-off time. Within a few minutes I got the answer that it wouldnt be any problem to drop it off earlier. You have to drop of the car at the Park ‘N Fly lot again and an agent inspected my car really quick and ended my rental. I got my receipt emailed to me within minutes. Another big bonus of Silvercar is, that the drop-off location is saved as a favorite in the onboard navigation system. With a few clicks you can start routing to the drop-off location if you are not familiar with the area. This is a great feature and will for sure help out a lot of people to drop it off without doing search on the internet before or try to find the Park ‘N Fly as a business in the GPS.
Silvercar gives you the promise that you don’t have to wait in line to pick up your car, which was true and I hope my next rental goes a bit smoother with the app.
I only wished they would equip the vehicles a bit better. I mean you already get a lot of features for what you pay, but nowadays the parking sensors should be standard and I would like to see Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) as well. This is such a big advantage for big cities, because basically you don’t have to brake or use the throttle if you sit in traffic. Only thing you have to do is steer. I love this feature and would like to see it finally in rental cars here.
I had so much fun driving this car. You definitely feel the difference in the driving experience on the roads. I took the Audi A4 up a small windy mountain road. This was real fun on such a beautiful day in the Bay Area.