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INSIDER SECRET: Hertz and National members can choose from a variety of cars to rent upon arrival, even at the lowest membership level, which is free to join.
If your normal travel schedule doesn’t involve renting cars, you might not be aware of some of the great perks and benefits that come with having status with a rental car company. And while you certainly can achieve elite status by frequently renting cars, there are many status perks that are available even if you have never rented a car.
I’ll review some of the top perks that come with car rental elite status.
The table below lists the major car rental companies and their status tiers:
|Rental Car Company|
|Avis||Preferred||Preferred Plus||Preferred Plus**|
|Hertz||Gold||Five Star||President's Circle|
*Note that Alamo, Budget, Dollar and Thrifty all have a single membership level that is free to join.
**Avis Preferred Plus has two tiers (12 rentals or $5,000 in spending and 25 rentals or $7,000 in spending).
1. Car Upgrades
Several car rental companies offer guaranteed upgrades to a higher-level car when you have certain status levels.
For example, folks with National Executive status get a guaranteed upgrade in the US and Canada when reserving a car at the midsize rate. If you have Hertz President’s Circle status, you get a guaranteed upgrade, regardless of the class of vehicle you reserve. If Enterprise is your rental car company of choice, you can get one, two or four upgrades per program year if you have Silver, Gold or Platinum status, respectively.
Avis Preferred Plus and Hertz Five Star members receive complimentary upgrades when available, but these are not guaranteed.
2. Choice of Cars
One of the nicest car rental perks is getting to choose from a variety of cars when you arrive to pick up your rental. Both Hertz and National offer members the option of choosing any vehicle in a designated area as long as your reservation is for a certain class of car or higher (compact for Hertz, midsize for National). For both companies, this perk is available to all members, even if you are at the lowest membership level, which is free to join. But if you have a higher status level, you’ll have a wider selection of cars to choose from.
3. Enhanced Point Earning
Avis, Enterprise, Hertz and National all give their members opportunities to earn rewards faster. Avis, Enterprise and Hertz offer the following earning rates to their members:
Avis Preferred: 1 point per dollar
Avis Preferred Plus (12 Rentals or $5,000 in spending): 1.25 points per dollar
Avis Preferred Plus (25 Rentals or $7,000 in spending): 1.5 points per dollar
Avis also offers higher earnings rates for money spent on accessories such as satellite radio, GPS or child safety seats.
Enterprise Plus: 1 point per dollar
Enterprise Plus Silver: 1.1 points per dollar
Enterprise Plus Gold: 1.15 points per dollar
Enterprise Plus Platinum: 1.2 points per dollar
Hertz Gold: 1 point per dollar
Hertz Five Star: 1.25 points per dollar
Hertz President’s Circle: 1.5 points per dollar
Instead of awarding points for rentals, National operates on a credit system. Elite members require fewer credits to claim a free rental day.
National Emerald Club: Free Rental Day = 7 Credits
National Emerald Club Executive: Free Rental Day = 6 Credits
National Emerald Club Executive Elite: Free Rental Day = 5 Credits
Dollar and Thrifty
Dollar and Thrifty members both earn 1 point per dollar, but neither program has higher status tiers or the opportunity to earn points faster.
Budget members do not earn points. Instead, they can receive $25 in Budget Bucks for every two rentals.
Alamo does not have a true rewards program, but if you sign up for their free Alamo Insiders program, you get 5% off rental rates in the US, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean and Latin America.
Achieving status with car rental companies brings with it some great perks, including upgrades, the opportunity to choose from a variety of cars and higher point-earning rates. Even if you don’t frequently rent cars, many of these perks are available at the lowest membership levels, which are free to join. Be sure to check out our post on how to save money on your next car rental. And take a look at this information regarding credit card rental car coverage.
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