Car Rental and Sharing APIs: Integrations with GDSs, OTAs, and Tech Providers
Exploring foreign places in a rental car offers multiple perks: You can get far off the beaten path, avoid wasting time trying to figure out public transportation or limiting your itinerary in case of a poor local transit system. As travel restrictions ease, the car rental market keeps growing with about 9 percent CAGR.
Since car rental is an integral part of the travel industry, it clearly makes sense to tie it into your travel or hospitality service. And Application Programming Interfaces or APIs can help you connect the dots fetching the necessary info. For clarity, check our video explaining how API enables connectivity in travel systems.
In our article on the fundamentals of travel APIs, we briefly address the car rental industry. Now, we’ll expand on this topic by introducing major car rental API providers currently on the market, and their features that you can benefit from.
Overview of the main car rental APIs
GDS car rental APIs: Sabre, Amadeus, Travelport
Standing at the core of the reservation network, global distribution systems (GDSs) store and retrieve travel-related data, further sharing it with travel agents, booking engines, etc., through their proprietary web services APIs. The car rental GDS landscape consists of Sabre, Amadeus, and Travelport.
This leading travel tech solutions provider covers a range of travel sectors, including over 37 car rental brands in about 40 thousand locations. Sabre offers several car APIs to locate, choose, and book vehicles from their inventory. This set of interfaces can be divided into several key services:
- Car rental location found by city codes and vendor search
- Vehicle availability, types, and rates
- Booking cars and modifying those reservations
Geo Search API can also be used to find car rental whereabouts, specifically:
- geo search using custom radius
- polygon search in a precise area returning specific and relevant results
- distance between the resolved locations.
Sabre also enables reserving a vehicle with additional info like flight arrival information, customer address, different return location, etc.
Amadeus’ main set of APIs covers multiple distribution types, car rentals included. To access Amadeus content, register your account and then get a unique API key that you’ll provide in API calls.
Amadeus Car & Transfers Enterprise APIs connect over 69 global car rental providers, along with local and regional companies. Similar to Sabre, you can get locations, rates, availability, and booking. Besides car rentals, Amadeus has transfer services allowing you to choose types of vehicles and their class.
Travelport XML API obtains data from several GDS inventories that Travelport represents: Galileo, Apollo, Worldspan, and Axess. These offer a range of content for car search and booking:
- search for availability, images, details, and pricing
- vehicle reservation and further operations with it: modification, retrieval, and cancelation
To check out the API, you can request test access for 30 days.
Tech service providers’ APIs for car rentals: CarTrawler, Travelopro, Trawex, eTravos, Smartcar
Cut out for B2B travel services, tech vendors help build car rental solutions leveraging their APIs.
CarTrawler: GDS-type connectivity
One of the leading end-to-end transport technology solutions, CarTrawler is a cost-effective choice for smaller, niche-oriented car rental companies, as it eliminates the usual GDS fees. With the CarTrawler model, car rental companies pay a commission only after the consumer pays at the rental counter.
Partnering with CarTrawler will give you access to full ground transport solutions from over 2,000 agents in 50,000 locations. To join its agent network, submit a partnership application.
This car-hire distribution channel targets both small and multinational businesses. Travelopro network embraces over a hundred countries. Its car rental reservation system can be integrated through the API.
Car Hire Search and Booking API allows for:
- finding car deals with various search options
- getting car prices
- tracking car availability and rental activity at certain locations
- integrating payment gateway
- managing car rental reservations
- accessing multi-language customer support.
Trawex APIs directly connect clients to their car rental booking software, so that OTAs, tour operators, or travel management companies can provide their customers with car deals in over 70 countries.
Trawex Car APIs have a range of features to offer:
- car availability tracking
- vehicle booking with instant confirmation updates
- pick-up and drop-off options
- live price feeds
- fee customization depending on location.
India’s largest cloud travel technology platform, eTravos maintains more than 300 clients in the Middle East, Africa, and Europe.
eTravos Car Booking API connects users to its car rental software, enabling the following car booking operations:
- searching for cars by location, travel dates, and driver nationality
- filtering cars by categories, door, size, or car list
- selecting insurance options
- checking price, availability, and credit
- sending notifications
In addition, eTravos also has a white label connectivity option.
Smartcar is a technology provider that enables API connections between car computers and 3rd party apps to access vehicle data (e.g. location, odometer, fuel, tire pressure), unlock doors, or start charging. The main purpose of the service is remote fleet management.
However, the API can be used in car-sharing as well. For instance, Turo, a peer-to-peer car-sharing company, employs Smartcar API to let owners unlock cars for their customers via the Turo app.
OTA and Aggregator Car Rental APIs: Skyscanner, Priceline, Auto Europe, Discover Cars
Being customer-focused, aggregators provide the widest visibility into car rentals, while online travel agencies offer planning services and booking capabilities. Major car rentals retailers are Skyscanner, Priceline, and Travelfusion.
Although Skyscanner’s strong suit is its flight fare search, the aggregator also provides a car rental API. By the way, if you’d like to learn about flight booking APIs, we’ve got an informative article on this topic as well.
Skyscanner Car Hire is a global car hire distribution channel. By connecting to it via API, you’ll take advantage of the following features:
- car search features (e.g. broad search queries)
- real-time streaming of car prices
- browsing ability and live car price feeds
To get the API, become a direct partner. Apply using the contact form and Skyscanner will consider you for access to their API service. You also have an option of using Skyscanner’s widgets, deep-links, and banners. In this case, you can join their affiliate network.
Skyscanner also invites car rental brands to distribute their inventories on the platform.
Priceline Partner Network’s API, among other things, allows for retrieving and booking cars for rent. Complemented by Rentalcars content, the API responds with dynamic car rental data targeting over 180 countries. Note that they only consider partners who generate no less than five bookings per day. So if that’s your case and you’d like to make use of the Priceline API, fill out their contact form. Besides using their APIs, you can go for a white label booking product.
Auto Europe affiliate program
This car rental wholesale company operates in over 180 countries worldwide and provides the following services:
- vehicle hire including prestige and sports cars
- chauffeur and transfer services between rail, airport, and hotel.
It’s already integrated with other major brands including Alamo, Avis, Sixt, Hertz, and more. So, Auto Europe can become the point of access for travel brands that plan on adding car rental capabilities to their websites.
You can read more on airport transfer functionality integration with booking systems in our dedicated article.
Auto Europe offers integration of their booking tools on web-affiliates’ sites using promotional widgets, links, and banners.
Discover Cars Affiliate and Partnership Programs with API connectivity
Discover Cars is a car rental online travel agency that aggregates offers from major suppliers including Hertz, Alamo, Enterprise, Sixt, and more. The agency accesses inventories across 10,000 locations in 145 countries. It has several connectivity options with both affiliate and partner programs.
- XML API for fully custom integrations
- Banners, affiliate links, and widgets
- White label landing page
- Extranet to manage rentals manually
For its affiliates, Discover Cars offers 70 percent share from offers and 30 percent from revenue per rented vehicle. You have to directly discuss the partner terms.
Rental cars affiliate programs and other connectivity approaches
Not every provider applies an API-led approach for integration. Some use white-label solutions, banners, or search engines instead.
Expedia Affiliate Program: promote Expedia car rentals on your website
Since Expedia major API – EPS Rapid – is for hotels only, we suggest enrolling in their affiliate program. The affiliate program is about featuring links on your site to Expedia sales, promotions, and inventory. Available tools include widgets and banners in localised languages. As you send referral traffic to Expedia, you earn fees with every completed transaction. Expedia supports 175 car rental companies.
Generated widget for searching cars for rent
Rentalcars by Booking.com is a car rental and pre-booked taxi service operating in 60,000 locations worldwide and uniting about 800 companies. Becoming a Rentalcars Connect partner is free and it will allow you to create car rental integrations on your website.
Rentalcars affiliate program allows for embedding car booking support in your website as:
- static and dynamic customizable banners redirecting to the Rentalcars.com home page with country and dates pre-populated
- widgets showing instant results and prices according to the input reservation details
- a booking engine sending the user to the Rentalcars.com search results page to complete the reservation.
Rentalcars integration options: web banners, a booking engine, and a confirmation page widget
Rentcars: a portal for car rental comparisons, discounts, and services
Rentcars operates in over 160 countries and has more than a hundred rental suppliers gathered in one convenient location. Kayak and ViajaNet benefit from its services. Rentcars affiliate program offers the following integrations:
- search engines redirecting to Rentcars.com with the search criteria pre-populated.
- white label solution integrates Rentcars’ search and booking system into a website.
Integrating and partnering with major suppliers
If it’s more viable for you to integrate directly with car rental companies, here’s an overview of the major players and ways of connecting to them.
In terms of sales Hertz is the biggest car rental company in the US with offices in more than 145 countries. Hertz offers a multitude of different rental options. It allows for displaying and booking its rates and services through GDSs.
Besides, Hertz provides API connection to its airline, rail, hotel, and travel agent partners. To enable it, you have to apply for the Hertz Applicant Program.
Dollar and Thrifty Connect the dots affiliate program
These sister companies are known for offering wallet-friendly car deals. Operating as subsidiaries of The Hertz Corporation, the brands enable affiliation via link connections. After putting their link on your website, you earn commissions every time your user books a car with them. International areas served include the US, Australia, Canada, Caribbean Islands, and Latin America.
Dollar also has an extranet for travel agents to run car rental bookings.
Avis API and affiliate
Avis, a unit of the Avis Budget Group, is a luxury car rental company operating in North America, South America, India, Australia, and New Zealand. Avis provides its customers with a convenient car hire app that manages your reservation from booking to drop-off.
To add the Avis API to your existing application, request access to it in their system after signup. It can assist your users with:
- looking for rental car brand locations
- getting pickup/dropoff details
- checking vehicle availability
- obtaining a car rate
- providing a car reservation summary.
Budget Affiliate and Agent Program
Budget is a large US brand, an Avis subsidiary. If you prefer working with Budget directly, they offer an affiliate program with banners and links as well as an agent extranet on their website. Keep in mind that Budget doesn’t currently accept affiliate partnerships outside of the US and Canada.
Budget offers are also available via all main GDSs.
Enterprise Holdings: Alamo, National, and Enterprise
Enterprise Holdings is the parent company of three brands: Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental, and Alamo Rent a Car. Their affiliate program is comprised of a variety of tools to attract customers to the brands’ websites: web banners, product specific landing pages, logos, deep-links, and promotional text links. To host the deals, affiliates must meet some qualifications for admittance.
Sixt is a European car rental and sharing company, covering about 2,000 locations in over 105 countries.
The brand offers SHARE API that enables access to the network of carsharing options. Besides that, it has a range of constantly updated banners, buttons, and text links that can be tailored to fit the target group.
The provider also has an extranet for travel agents to rent cars for their customers.
Europcar is a car rental service with about 4,000 locations in more than 140 countries. Besides GDS-enabled access for agents, the company also has an XML web interface to distribute offers through their partners.
Car rental industry trends
As noted by Neil Abrams, veteran car rental analyst, the car rental industry is currently in a transformative stage. So, companies keep their eyes open for new ways of doing business. They grow revenue offering car-sharing services, go green to support environmentally aware customers, and expand their services beyond traditional rentals.
Carsharing: car rental by the hour
A point-to-point car-sharing service is profitable for suppliers and convenient for users. Car2Go is an example of a carsharing service with flexible credits and rental rates. Users must download an app and validate their license there. Then they can hop in any available car and later leave it in any legally approved spot.
To manage short term car bookings, you can leverage the Car2Go API. It’ll provide you with up-to-date information on:
- available vehicles
- parking places
- local gas stations.
Green vehicles: eco-friendly suppliers
As environmental awareness keeps conquering minds, it finds its reflection in the car rental industry too. Eco-friendly vehicle suppliers have a chance to stand out and instantly win their target customers. Green Motion, car and van rental eco brand, offers green cars for hire. By means of their API, the Green Motion management system connects to outsider systems to provide the following functionalities:
- accessing charging stations
- keeping a record of charging points
- recovering recharging transactions
- integrating with parking tickets systems
- facilitating recharge payment by text message
- integrating with carsharing systems: reservation of charging stations, identification of the connected vehicle.
Pushing car rentals further: optional tours and vehicle sales
Aiming at diversity and better customer service, car rental providers extend their sphere of operation. For instance, Hertz paired with travel platform PlacePass to integrate curated in-destination experiences along with car hire services. So now when booking a rental car through Hertz, customers can also sign up for excursions. In its turn, Avis approach car sales. They create greater buyer confidence in the purchase of a rental vehicle offering low-mileage, competitively-priced cars that are certified.
Interested in travel APIs? Check our other pieces on the topic: