Cheap Car Rentals: Save Hundreds of Dollars by Using the Chase Ultimate Rewards or Citi Thank You Portal!

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I haven’t seen this blogged or written about in much detail elsewhere.  And it may very well be SINGLE most useful tip which I share this year!  I’m somewhat embarrassed that it took me this long to find out one of the most useful benefits of Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi Thank You points.

The secret weapon to slashing hundreds of dollars in car rentals is to book car rentals with cash (or you can redeem points) through the Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thank You or Capital One travel portals.

Ultimate Rewards Travel 10

The Keys to Cheaper Rentals

These rates were MUCH lower than any of the other rates which I found.  In this post, I will explain how to use the Chase Ultimate Rewards and the Citi Thank You portal since they appear to be run by the same company and have identical terms & conditions and appearance.

You can redeem Citi Thank You points for 1 cent per point or Chase Ultimate Rewards points for 1 cent per point or 1.25 cents per point depending on which Chase Ultimate Rewards card you have.  Or you can pay cash.

The only difference is in the rental car cancellation policy.  Chase Ultimate Rewards has NO cancellation fee for rentals cancelled before 2 days of pick-up, but Citi Thank You portal charges $15 for changes before 2 days of pick-up.  Both sites have a fee of 1-day’s rental charges if you cancel within 2 days, and no refund for no-shows.

 ~6 Days Rental in Tampa~1 Day Rental in New York (La Guardia)~7 Days Rental in MauiCancellation Policy
Hotwire$286$131-$362 Economy Sedan
-$487 SUV
VERY Restrictive. No refunds, cancellations or modifications after booking.
Costco Travel$330$117- $401 Sedan
- $386 SUV
Can cancel, change, or no-show with no penalty
Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal

$156$46$207Can cancel/change for free within 2 days of pick-up. 1 day car rental penalty for cancellations within 2 days. No refund for no-shows.
Citi Thank You Portal$156$46$207Can cancel/change for $15 within 2 days of pick-up. 1 day car rental penalty for cancellations within 2 days. No refund for no-shows.
WinnerChase Ultimate Rewards & Citi Thank You PointsChase Ultimate Rewards & Citi Thank You PointsChase Ultimate Rewards & Citi Thank You Points

Rentals from BOTH the Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi Thank You portal were the same cash price in my tests!

Cheap Car Rentals Series:

Chase Ultimate Rewards

In short, you get access to the Ultimate Rewards portal and their terrific rental car deals with any Chase Ultimate Rewards point card.

You can access the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, can transfer Ultimate Rewards points to select airlines or hotels, and can redeem Chase Ultimate rewards points for 1.25 cents towards travel with the:

You get access to the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, can redeem Chase Ultimate rewards points for 1 cent (as opposed to 1.25 cents) towards travel, but can’t transfer Ultimate Rewards points to select airlines or hotels with the:

These cards also have NO annual fee, so they could be worth keeping just for access to the cheap rental deals!

I verified that the cash price for the car rental was the same whether you used a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Freedom, Chase Ink Bold or a Chase Ink Plus.

Note that Chase Ultimate Rewards does NOT charge a change fee for cancelling a rental car outside of 2 days from pick-up, and you pay 1 day’s rental if you cancel within 2 days.  However, no-shows get no refund.  I also preferred calling Chase Ultimate Rewards to cancel the rental than calling the Citi Thank You folks.

How to access The Ultimate Rewards Portal

Step 1.  Log in to the Ultimate Rewards portal

Step 2.   Click on “Travel” in the top menu bar, and then click on “Flights, Hotels, & Car Rentals

Ultimate Rewards Travel-003

Logging Into The Ultimate Rewards Portal

Step 3.   Search for your car rental.


In short, you get access to the Ultimate Rewards portal and their terrific rental car deals with any credit card, bank account, or other Citi product which earns Thank You points.

However, Emily and I both have only Citi Thank You Premier cards, so I was unable to see if other Citi Thank You accounts had access to the same great rental car rates.  I suspect all Citi Thank You accounts have access to the discounted rental car rates.

Here’s a list of current Citi credit cards which earn Thank You points:

Here are more ways to earn Citi Thank You points.  Citi Thank You points can be transferred from 1 Thank You point account to another, but they are quirky, so read this post to learn more about losing Citi Thank You points after cancelling a Citi Thank You point credit card.

It could be worth it to have a fee-free Citi Thank You card (Citi Preferred has no annual fee) just for access to the cheap rental deals!

How to access The Thank You Portal:

Step 1.  Log in to the Thank You portal

Step 2.   Click on “Book Travel” in the top menu bar, and then click on “Cars” under the “Travel Center

Ultimate Rewards Travel-006

Logging Into The Thank You Portal

Step 3.   Search for your car rental.

Note that you will pay a $15 change fee for ANY changes/cancellation to a rental car within 2 days (unlike Chase where you pay nothing for changes).  You also pay 1 day’s rental charge if you cancel within 2 days.  And no-shows get no refund.

I preferred calling Chase Ultimate Rewards to cancel the rental than calling the Citi Thank You folks, because the Citi Thank You folks kept transferring my call whereas the Chase rep cheerfully cancelled my rental!

Price Comparisons

[Note that price comparisons between rental agencies were made on the same day, but posted later.]

A)   ~6 Days in Tampa The cheapest rate from the 1st post in the series was $286 for a very restricted reservation from Hotwire.  But the rate from the Chase Ultimate Rewards & Citi Thank You portals is $156 or a savings of $130!

The Chase Ultimate Rewards & Citi Thank You portals save 45% off the Hotwire rate with MORE flexibility for cancellations!

Ultimate Rewards Travel-004

Saving 45% of Hotwire With Chase Ultimate Rewards & Citi Thank You Points

B)   1 Week Day in New York – The cheapest rate for a car from the 1st post in the series was $117 through Costco Travel.  But the rate from the Chase Ultimate Rewards & Citi Thank You portal is $46 or a savings of $71!

The Chase Ultimate & Citi Thank You portals save 60% off the Costco Travel rate with almost as much flexibility!

Ultimate Rewards Travel-002

Saving 60% With Chase Ultimate Rewards & Citi Thank You Points

C)   ~1 Week in Maui – The cheapest rate from 1st post in the series was $362 for a very restricted reservation from Hotwire.  But the rate from the Chase Ultimate Rewards & Citi Thank You portal is $207 or a savings of $155!

The Chase Ultimate & Citi Thank You portal saves 43% off the Hotwire rate with MORE flexibility for cancellations!

Saving 60% With Chase Ultimate Rewards & Citi Thank You Points

Saving 60% With Chase Ultimate Rewards & Citi Thank You Points

Using Chase Ultimate Rewards & Citi Thank You Points for Car Rentals

1.  Restrictions and Refunds.  The Chase Ultimate Reward & Citi Thank You portal do NOT let you book 1-way car rentals.

However, you can cancel a reservation for FREE (only with Chase Ultimate Rewards Points) up to to 2 days before pick-up by calling 1-866-951-6592.  However, you will pay $15 for each change if you use Citi Thank You points.

If you cancel the reservation within 2 days of the pick-up date, for both Citi Thank You Points and Chase Ultimate Rewards points, you have to pay a fine equal to one day’s rental cost (which is usually pretty reasonable.)

You don’t get ANY refund if you no-show and don’t pick up your car.  So always cancel your reservation if you don’t plan on renting the car.

2.  Pay With Cash, Points, or Both.   One of the best features of the Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal is that you can pay for your rental with a charge to your credit card, points, or a combination of cash and points.

Ultimate Rewards Travel-008

Pay With Cash or Points

In some cases, you won’t get the option to pay for the rental using cash (see image below), but you can always choose to pay with 1 point and charge the balance to your credit card (which is like saving your points and paying with cash!)

Ultimate Rewards Travel-007

You Can Even Pay With 1 Point!

3.  Earning Miles/Points.   I haven’t made enough reservations to see if I can add an airline or car rental frequent traveler number and earn miles/points for the reservation.  I suspect that I won’t be able to earn miles/points for the reservation.

However, you can sometimes earns airline miles for short reservations, like say this offer for 1,500 US Air miles for a 2 day or longer rental (targeted to US Air Preferred members, but works for most).  In some cases, particularly for short rentals, it make sense to forgo the lower cash price from the Chase Ultimate Rewards/Citi Thank You portal and earn miles for the rental.  But do the math for yourself!

4.   Bypassing Airport Rental Car Counters.   I’m also not sure if you can add your rental car number to the reservation so that you can skip checking in at the rental car counter and go straight to the car.  I tried calling Avis to add my number to a reservation, but was told I couldn’t do it because the rate would increase if they associated my Avis number with the reservation.

But I’ll gladly wait for 15 to 20 minutes at the airport to save hundreds of dollars!

5.   Personal Observations.  The Chase Ultimate Rewards & Citi Thank You portal has beaten other sites 80% to 90% of the time, but this is MY experience.  The portals are usually the cheapest site for longer rentals (1 week+) or for rentals during the weekday, but may not always be the best for weekend rentals (where Costco Travel & other sites may have the edge).

Sometimes you will see only 1 rental car provider or the rates will be comparable to elsewhere.  But the rates usually reduce and you can see more providers if you check back in a few hours.

SUVs and mini-vans also aren’t always available, but check for yourself, since your experience will be different!

Bottom Line:

In my experience, the Chase Ultimate Rewards & Citi Thank You portal often have the lowest price on car rentals.  And you can redeem cash, points, or a combination of cash and points for a car rental!

The cancellation and change policy on these car rentals are also MUCH better than the rigid Hotwire policy.  The Chase Ultimate Rewards portal doesn’t charge for cancellations up to 2-days from pick-up, while the Citi Thank You Portal charges $15 for each change.  Both sites have a fee of 1-day’s rental charges if you cancel within 2 days, and no refund for no-shows.

Please share your story in the comments if you’ve used the Chase Ultimate Rewards or Citi Thank You portal for car rentals!

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204 responses to “Cheap Car Rentals: Save Hundreds of Dollars by Using the Chase Ultimate Rewards or Citi Thank You Portal!

  1. Pingback: UR for car rental ? - FlyerTalk Forums

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  3. DaveRamseyIsDangerous

    Good post. For my upcoming rental, I still am seeing lower rates with the certain corporate codes by about $100 for the total rental. Now, what I will say, is that the rates using these methods are very good and better than most which I have found elsewhere. Thanks for the informative post, though, regardless.

  4. Good info. I used my wife’s Thank You card and was only 5800 pts ($58) for 3 days in Dallas for compact. During the check out process, you can put anyone as the driver – it does not have to be the person on the Citi TY card. Of course, points come off the cardholder’s TY point account. Or I could have booked for Cash for $58 – a good deal, but we have points to use.

  5. Darius,

    I’ve looked at the chase portal a couple of times, but it always seems to be more expensive than the rental companies direct web site. I’ve only looked at sfo and lax locations, so maybe that has something to do with it, but I am not seeing any savings. Am I missing something?

    • @Scott – I can’t comment specifically, but no one site will get you the best rate all the time. The UR portal isn’t the best for me all the time, but it does often get me a lower rate.

  6. Thanks! I was able to find a great deal using this method and will definitely use in the future, but I would note that it doesn’t seem to be so great if you need a flexible rental, or don’t want to pay in advance, as the terms say no refunds for early returns.

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  8. I logged into Thank You portal using my ID from my no annual fee AT&T Universal MC. I was able to get a rental from Avis for $233 from with cash only for a 4 night Wed-Sun rental in Austin. Cheapest rate I could find elsewhere was $333. Thanks for the tip and the extra $100.

  9. I’m thinking of booking a rental car through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal using points from my wife’s Sapphire Preferred card. I was wondering if I just use points will I still get the collision coverage that I would get by using the Sapphire card?

    • @Joeheg – Glad you were able to save the $100!

      @Ken – I don’t believe you will get the coverage if you use points entirely for the rental. But you should get the coverage if you pay cash.

  10. Hi, Darius,
    So, the price does not cover the insurance such as: Collision Waiver, etc., right?

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  13. MMS, the UR car rental service says it doesn’t offer one way. Is there a workaround? Is there another way to get a great one way rental? Thanks!

  14. Just a follow-up. Just completed my rental which I used the Citi portal. Rental was a breeze. I rented from Avis and when I walked to the counter, I handed the agent my ID and Credit Card. He started to type in information and I offered my Avis Preferred card. The agent smiled, said “Well, that’s much easier”. He called to the lot and by the time I walked over there my name and assigned car was already on the board. I definitely will check this pricing before any rental. Still not sure if I will get any miles for the rental but that’s OK considering the money I saved.

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  16. Daniel Lauchheimer

    Thanks for this (and all your) great posts.

    Question — on the UR portal, there is no option for in city pick up for the car rentals — you only can do airport pickup. Am I right, or is there something I am missing?



  17. I found a rental in Vegas for 4 days. I will need to pick up the car at 10 am and return the car at 3 pm 4 days later. It priced out at around 13,000 ultimate reward points. I am fine with that. I have alot if points. On the terms and conditions sections, it says something about there may be charges for extra hours. If I reserve it for the hours I have listed, I shouldn’t worry about being charged extra, should I?

    • @Daniel Lauchheimer – I don’t believe it supports pick-ups outside airports.

      @Kathy c – If you reserve it for those hours you won’t be charged more unless you return the car later then 3:00 pm.

  18. So glad I found this before I booked for my next trip. Ended up being $60 less than the best rate I found via hotwire.

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  22. Hi! I know this is a bit older but I was wondering if I can use my USAA discount of ‘No underage surcharge’ plus redeem my citi points to get a renal car all together?

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  24. Just got off the phone with Chase Ultimate Rewards regarding car rentals. The agent could not tell me if there are any additional fees/taxes added to the rate when picking up the car. Anyone know?

  25. MMS,
    I totally agree what you found. I got a a minivan priced for 1 week for $409 at UR whereas most of the sites were quoting over $550. I was very pleasantly surprised! The uR didn’t have the SUV option but I didn’t need it.

  26. I saw one comment above about using their Avis preferred card at time of pickup with a Citi ThankYou reservation. Has anyone been able to get their Avis First benefits with a Citi or UR rental? Thanks.

  27. Pingback: cheap-one-way-car-rental | Million Mile Secrets

  28. I never see a definitive answer (or even any firm answer!) about whether the C-card “insurance” is activated if I were to rent through the UR Mall using UR Points… Anyone know?

    If I use my UR points to rent a convertible (for a week in December in Fort Lauderdale) through the UR Mall — do I get the rental car coverage that the Ink Bold would normally give? Do I need to pay part of the rental with the Ink Bold to get it? How much/how little?

  29. Pingback: Thank You Premier | Million Mile Secrets

  30. Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall gives 10 points for every dollar spent at . gives 5% cash back (and sometimes 10% cash back) for every dollar spent at .

    Is it possible to get both bonuses with one purchase? If I go through the Ultimate Rewards Mall, and then click a new tab and go through, and then make the Kohl’s purchase, will I get both bonuses? Or will I only get the bonus of the last referral site I went through, or perhaps whichever referring website’s tab I used to make the Kohl’s purchase?

  31. My 1 question, which may have been answered but didn’t read all 161 comments – I use a credit card for the insurance that comes with it. What happens here if I use UR points to cover the cost of the rental? Thanks!

  32. I see that I could use 10,000 points. Let’s say I use 9,900 points plus $1, will I be covered for the whole rental?

  33. Does anyone know if there is a way to change the dropoff location for rental cars using these portals? I was unable to find a way to do it. Seems like you have to pickup/dropoff in the same location?

    • Joe S – It depends on the terms of your cards. Some cards (like Chase ones) do cover if you use part points and part cash, but others don’t. So read the fine print!

      @Michael – You can’t book 1-way awards through these portals.

  34. I would like to make a rental car reservation using the ultimate rewards portal. The rental would be more than six months out. I was also planning to cancel my chase ink card very soon for unrelated reasons. I understand that I would lose access to the ultimate rewards portal once the card is canceled. If so, how could I modify/cancel the rental reservation without access to the ultimate rewards portal?

  35. Daraius,

    Pls help me out here…

    I would like to book 1 week rental via TY portal … The total is $200… If I pay $190 with points and $10 using the United Card let’s say…will I get insurance coverage that way?


  36. Thank you Daraius!!

    I think I am going to take my chances and reserve the rental thru the ultimate rewards portal. Afterwards, I would still have to cancel my Ink card for unrelated reasons. The specific rental car quote is just too good!! Please everyone allow me one more question. Would anyone know whether you would need to show the credit card used for the reservation when picking up the rental?

    • @Sam – I’m not 100% sure, but I’d say “no” since it wasn’t put entirely on the card.

      @Norbert -I’ve never been asked for the card, but you could keep the card with you just in case i.e. don’t cut it up.

  37. Wow, another great resource here on mms, thank you Daraius. I vaguely remembered seeing this car rental tip a year ago, but hadn’t really needed it, until now. We were also set to do the south florida getaway at end of March, with our SWA companion pass, even a night or two at the Indigo pointbreaks @ Miami Lakes. All thanks to lessons learned here. 😉

    But then nearly called off the trip when we saw car rental rates — $300 and more for just 4 days w/ economy. Yet following your tip here, went to Chase UR, plugged in the dates — and le voila, a cash savings of over 50%, using a leading rental co. (and we have option to use points combo too)

    Trip saved. Merci!

  38. Great post! Can I use a non-citi card to pay for the cash part of the Thankyou rental? And, do you know which Chase card will cover insurance in such a scenario?

  39. Just spoke to some Citi Premiere, and Chase Ink representatives. You can get full insurance benefits when you rent with rewards, even if you only pay some fees with the credit card. But only with that cards rewards program. So if you rent with UR and pay some fees with Chase Ink, you are good to go. Same thing with Thank You rewards and Citi Premiere (this may be true with all Chase/Citi cards, these are the 2 that I asked about).

  40. I noticed on Citi Thank you that the rate is $151 for a weekly rental in San Francisco but points needed is 20,228, why is it not 15,100 points?

  41. I just booked a rental on Kauai through Chase UR and paid with points. I see now the advantage of putting part of the total on a Chase CC for the insurance. I know I could have canceled if I purchased the ticket with CC but since I paid with points do the same cancel rules apply? Will my points be re-deposited?

  42. Darius, do you know if I were to book through the Chase Portal for National, would I still be able to use the Emerald Aisle option if booking an intermediate car as long as my Emerald Club number is in my UR profile?

  43. The Ultimate Rewards program is not all that good for renting cars, since it limits you to their list of pickup/dropoff locations — basically big cities and airports only. They also don’t offer minivan options, so large families are again discriminated against.

  44. @Joseph I was just able to book a minivan through UR. That aspect may just depend on the rental car agency. I find UR or Autoslash to be better than everything else on the market.

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  48. Chase just cancelled all my cards because of my “misuse of its reward program.” I had bought and returned things through the Ultimate Rewards mall, and they never took back the points awarded. Their theory appears to be that because a lot of points were involved, I surely noticed that the points were not being taken back and began buying with the intention of returning.

    Anyway, am I banned for life?

  49. Love your blog. I’m always learning so many new things from you.

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  51. I just booked a full size (Nissan Altima) for a 6-day rental out of Miami Airport from Budget through the Costco Travel portal for $123. This beat the Chase and Citi portals, which wanted $186 or 18,000 Points for the same rental. So, it may pay to check all of them and compare. (The plus with Chase & Citi is that you could use points but I chose to pay through Costco Travel [using a credit card, of course] since I thought it was a better deal.)

    Thanks for these tips.

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  56. Woo Hoo, I just saved over $100 on my car rental. Thank you so much for this information =)

  57. I’ve taken numerous trips to Tampa and I’ve always found the Costco will eventually come up with the cheapest prices. They don’t ever start out cheap, but if you book about 3 or 4 weeks from your date of departure, the prices usually drop tremendously. Last year, they started at $958 for a full sized car for 15 days of rental– that was about 5 months before I trip. It drop to about half of that within 3 months of our departure date. Ended up costing me $297 last year. I did the same thing the year before (when there were fewer people traveling) and I got the same rental for $196. Costco is very good about backing up prices as well. If you call and tell them you found the same car cheaper from the same company on another site, they will usually beat that price by at least $5. I have found that they are excellent to deal with and I’ve never had any trouble when I arrived at the airport to pick up the rental.

  58. Figured I’d save someone some time and aggravation.

    I spent the last few hours researching weather the CDW is covered when using UR rewards to pay the full rental cost of a car.
    The T&C of the UR rewards mall states that it does not cover any additional fees associated with the rental cost. I called chase CSR (India rep) who stated the insurance WAS included as long as all points were earned on THAT specific card, she could not answer about points transferred from other cards….ie Ink to Sapphire transfer.

    Finally I checked my personal car insurance policy and it turns out they cover all rental for vacation and pleasure, could have saved myself a few hours today

  59. Hi just read this for the first time. Haven’t used UR for a car rental yet. My question — any idea if you can use your National Emerald Club benefit with a mid-size rental through UR and get access to the executive lot?

  60. I went to look at rates for car rentals in Los Angeles. Unfortunately Chase Ultimate Rewards does not seem to let me, choose any location outside of LAX. Away from the airport the rates are half the price and I have no desire to rent at the airport. So using the Ultimate Rewards portal for car rentals is useless for me.

  61. I just checked prices via Chase for a 3-day rental from Chicago O’Hare and the cheapest option came up as $171, or $57 per day, which is insanely expensive. The same dates on Hotwire show a rental available for just $83 total. Was this a fluke, or is this article just extremely out of date now?

  62. I have to agree with you Scott, I just checked with Chase Rewards and the rates are much higher for the same car with Hotwire, Travelocity, etc. I was comparing rates in Europe. I did notice that the earlier you rent cars with Chase the cheaper the rates…

  63. Just another datapoint – I found a Mustang Convertible in Tampa with National for $240. The cheapest I had found across company sites, Priceline, etc, and using multiple coupons/discounts was $388.

    I’d call that a big win. Thanks for the awesome advice!

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