Home Newbies (& those who don't travel often) Signing Up For Car Rental Programs, and What Each Program Will Give You

Signing Up For Car Rental Programs, and What Each Program Will Give You

by joeheg

I’ve written in the past about how to sign up for frequent flyer programs and hotel programs. With each of those, you earn loyalty points or miles you can redeem in the future for flights or hotel nights. While some car rental companies also run loyalty programs that can earn you free rental days, the reason you should sign up for these programs is because of how much easier they make renting a car.

The thing I hate most about renting a car is the experience at the rental counter. It’s when, after usually waiting in a line, you get to talk to the car rental agent……. and then the sales pitches for an upgraded car, extra features (navigation, satellite radio), pre-paid gas and coverages begin. After denying (or accepting, I’m not one to judge) each one of these, I feel as if I had to make a deal just to rent the car I reserved for the price I agreed to pay. This is where registering for the loyalty program really pays off. You answer all of these questions in advance and certify these choices will apply to all your rentals unless you specify otherwise. Now when you walk to the counter, you simply hand over your drivers license and credit card and sign for the keys, or so they say. It’s easier to rent from some rental companies than others but enrolling in the rental company’s program will always make the process go along with fewer hiccups.

Here are the sign-up links for the major car rental loyalty programs including any perks that are included and if they award loyalty points.

Advantage – Advantage Rewards

  • Free to join
  • Rewards earned with each rental (one for just enrolling)
  • Free Upgrades
  • Member discounts

I couldn’t find a list of what the rewards that you earn after each rental are. You do need to book directly through their website for your rental to be eligible to earn rewards.

Alamo – Alamo Insiders

I have frequently found Alamo to have the best prices for leisure rentals using discount codes found on Autoslash. Alamo doesn’t have their own points program but they’ll allow you to earn points with their many hotel and airline partners.

Avis – Avis Preferred

  • Free to join
  • Can earn Avis Preferred Points that can be used for rentals, accessories and upgrades
  • Can earn frequent flyer miles or hotel points for rentals (but you won’t earn any Avis Preferred Points for the same rental)
  • Skip the line and go directly to your car at most airports


The Avis Preferred program perk of skipping the line is wonderful. If available, you can just go to the board, find your name and it will tell you what spot your car is parked in. The only problem with this is there is no chance to get an upgrade without going back to stand in line at the counter.

Budget – Fastbreak

  • Free to join
  • Skip the lines and go straight to your car, if available
  • If renting from the counter, just have to show ID
  • Enter your Frequent Flyer number to your Fastbreak account to earn miles with any of Budget’s partners.

The main perk of this program is to speed up the rental experience. I’ve seen some pretty long lines at Budget counters so this could be a huge time saver.

Dollar – Dollar Express

  • Free to join
  • VIP Counter Service – Members have a designated line and counter area for preferential service. You just have to present your driver’s license and credit card for verification and sign the rental agreement.
  • Ability to earn frequent flyer miles with partners or Dollar Express Renter Rewards (One point per dollar spent, free rental days starting at 625 points, weekend days at 500 points).

Enterprise – Enterprise Plus

  • Free to join
  • Member check-in area, at participating locations
  • Earn Enterprise Plus Points or points in other programs with each rental.
  • Ability to earn points with rentals from National Rent A Car with the Drive Alliance partnership.

E-Z Rent A Car – E-Z Money

  • Free to join
  • Members Only coupons
  • Earn Unlimited Points that can be redeemed for credits on future rentals with no blackout periods
  • Fast Rental Pick-Up

There is very little information on the website’s FAQ to know how much E-Z money you earn or how to use it There are also no details of how much faster the pick up is.

Fox Rent A Car – Fox Rewards Program

  • Free to join
  • Earn points with every rental that can be used to get FoxBucks to use towards a future rental or a SuperCertificate to use at major retailers.

You earn 4 points per dollar but it takes 1600 points for a $20 FoxBucks certificate. So that’s $400 in spend for $20 (in essence, it’s a 5% rebate).

Hertz – Hertz Gold Plus Rewards

National – Emerald Club

  • Free to join
  • At locations with Emerald Aisle access, you can skip the counter and choose any car from the type you rented.
  • If you reserve a mid-size car, you can select any car from the Emerald Aisle section and still pay the same as a mid-size.
  • You can earn points towards free rental days or earn with any of National’s partners.
  • No extra fee for a second driver if you want to let a family member or business partner drive the vehicle.
  • Earn rental points when renting with Enterprise.

And here’s a little clip that doesn’t show much more information but I had to include it because who doesn’t have enough Patrick Warburton in their lives.

Payless – Payless Perks Club

  • Free to join
  • Faster Booking Process. Your information is stored securely so that you won’t have to re-enter it every time you book on PaylessCar.com.

Sixt – Express Sixt Card

  • Free to join
  • Your personal data is stored behind the card, no waiting time at the arrival location and easy payment due to your stored credit card information.
  • Earn points with any of Sixt’s travel partners.

Thrifty – Blue Chip

Final Thoughts

The one thing in common with all these programs is they’re all free to join. So even if you’re an infrequent renter, once or twice a year or less, it still pays to sign up and credit your points to the airline of your choice.

I find that the National Emerald Club is the most rewarding of the programs. You get to skip the line, select a car from the Emerald Aisle if you booked a mid-size car (mid-size usually costs a few more dollars a day than a compact) and get a second driver for free. Unfortunately, National’s prices have been too high for me to justify renting with them recently.

The skip the counter perk is the most important thing that these programs provide. I like the ones who do not require you to go the counter at all like Avis, Hertz and National. The ones that promise a “dedicated line” only helps when there are multiple people working a counter. A smaller airport location with only one person working means you’ll still have to wait.

Have you signed up for these programs? What’s the biggest benefit that you’ve gotten out of them? I’d love to hear about it. Let me know in the comments or leave a message on Facebook or Twitter.

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