Navigating The Wheels: A Comprehensive Guide To Car Rental Loyalty Program
In the initial days of the pandemic, rental car companies, facing financial strains, liquidated assets by selling vehicles. With the resurgence of travel, there has been an unprecedented surge in demand for rental cars. Many individuals often opt for the most economical rental car without considering loyalty programs, yet these programs offer valuable perks such as car upgrades and points toward free rentals. Below is a detailed breakdown of prominent car rental rewards programs and the key features associated with each.
Unlike some other programs, Alamo Insiders lacks elite status tiers and does not allow the accrual of rental car points. However, members benefit from a 5% discount on rates in various locations. Insiders can earn miles or points through Alamo’s airline and hotel partners.
Avis Preferred has different elite status tiers: Preferred, Preferred Plus, President’s Club, and Chairman’s Club. Preferred members can skip rental counters globally, while higher levels offer additional perks such as complimentary upgrades and access to dedicated customer service lines. Status matches are available for those with elite status in other rental car programs.
Budget’s Fastbreak loyalty program is free and allows members to proceed directly to the lot, choosing their preferred vehicle. While lacking elite tiers, Budget offers periodic promotions, such as $25 in Budget Bucks, for members who rent twice through a specified date.
Dollar Express Rewards
Dollar Express Rewards allows members to earn points that can be used for free rentals. They also provide perks such as counter skipping, priority service, and adding a spouse as an additional driver without fees. While Dollar, Thrifty, and Hertz are part of the same company, points cannot be earned or redeemed across brands.
Enterprise Plus offers Plus, Silver, Gold, and Platinum status tiers. Members can enjoy perks like bonus points, free car upgrades, and dedicated customer service based on their level. Enterprise Plus also offers a status match for those with elite status in other rental car programs.
The Fox Rewards program provides members with points that can be redeemed for gift certificates or applied towards rental car expenses. While not the most lucrative program, it offers simplicity and ease of earning points.
Hertz Gold Plus Rewards
Hertz’s loyalty program, Hertz Gold Plus Rewards, includes Gold, Five Star, and President’s Circle status tiers. Benefits range from earning points per dollar spent to guaranteed vehicle upgrades, with eligibility for status matches for certain credit cardholders.
National Emerald Club
National’s Emerald Club has three tiers: Emerald Club, Executive, and Executive Elite. Each tier offers benefits like skipping rental counters, choosing any car from the Emerald Aisle, and earning rental credits or points/miles.
Thrifty Blue Chip Rewards
While lacking elite status tiers, Thrifty Blue Chip Rewards offers members a 10% discount on all rentals. It also provides the convenience of skipping rental counters and offers perks like adding a free authorized additional driver.
Choosing the Right Credit Card
The choice of credit card can significantly impact the rewards earned during car rentals. Cards like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve offer bonus points for travel expenses. Some cards also provide primary car rental coverage, adding extra protection for renters.
While car renting might not be as glamorous as other travel experiences, loyalty programs can significantly enhance the overall experience. Whether skipping rental counters, enjoying complimentary upgrades, or earning points towards free rentals, signing up for loyalty programs is a prudent step, potentially saving time and adding value to future car rental experiences.