Home Points & Miles How You Can Earn Airline Miles By Driving

How You Can Earn Airline Miles By Driving

by joeheg

If you’re flying to a vacation destination, one of your first stops after the bathroom and baggage claim might be the rental car counter. I hope you used the tips I listed in this article and got a reasonable price on that car. But what you might not have known is that you can also earn airline miles for most car rentals. Here’s how… 

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I rented a car in Charlotte from Dollar during our Three Nights in the Carolinas trip. When I got home, I realized I didn’t select an airline partner when I made the reservation. Fortunately, you’re able to retroactively credit car rentals with most companies. The real question now was which airline would I credit the miles to.

Crediting the rental to an airline would mean I wouldn’t get rental credits from the car rental company. But I don’t rent cars often enough to have that make any difference to me, and I’m not loyal enough to any car rental company to earn enough points to be worth anything, so I prefer to credit the rentals to my airline account. As always, Your Mileage May Vary.

The first thing I did was a quick Google search of “Dollar Car Rental Airline Partners” and the first non-advertisement link was for Dollar Travel Partners. It looked like Dollar partners with many domestic and international airlines, as well as IHG hotels:

I’m not a member of all of these programs (Note from Sharon: {THUD}), but I do have miles in several of them. So how did I decide on what airline should I submit the rental to get the miles?

My first choice would be any program that I need to keep active. Since Delta, Southwest and United’s miles no longer expire, that’s less of a problem than used to be. Every other airline account I have would be good for at least the next 12 months. That meant I could now credit whatever account gave me the best rewards.

  • Alaska – 50 miles per rental day
  • American – 50 miles per rental day
  • Delta – 500 miles per qualifying rental
  • Frontier – 50 miles per day on rentals of 1 to 4 days in length and 500 miles per rental transaction on rentals of 5 days or more.
  • Hawaiian – 50 miles per rental day
  • Southwest – 600 miles per rental transaction
  • United – 50 miles per day on rentals of 1 to 4 days in length and 500 miles per rental transaction on rentals of 5 days or longer.
  • IHG – 125 points per rental day

Since this rental was for 3 days, the best return seems to be the 600 Southwest miles. So I went to the Southwest airlines site and found directions on how to put in a claim for missing miles:

To request points for a past rental, you can mail a photocopy of your rental agreement, along with your Rapid Rewards® account number to:

     The Hertz Corporation
Attn: Frequent Traveler Department

     P.O. Box 268899
     Oklahoma City, OK 73126-8899

Excuse me, but this is 2019. Who mails ANYTHING anymore? They don’t even offer a way to fax it to them, not to mention an email. There had to be a better way. So I Googled “Dollar Retroactive Airline Credit”

https://www.dollar.com/Help/FrequentFlyerFeedback.aspx

Here was the webpage for Dollar, where you could put in the information about your rental, which airline you wanted to credit the miles, and submit the information. And this was all ONLINE! WHAT A BREAKTHROUGH!

So I’ve submitted my information about the rental and I’ll wait to see what happens. Just a note that you need to follow up because these requests often end up lost in the processing until you ask what happened. Then, magically, the miles will appear a few days later.

While this example was with a rental from Dollar, the steps are pretty much the same for the other big car rental companies. Now, you don’t have to do this. You can put in your number when you rent the car. Sometimes airlines offer bonuses like double or even triple miles when booking and crediting the rental to them. Just be careful because sometimes these rentals require you to use a code for the rental that would be more expensive than what you could find otherwise. An extra 300-600 miles is nice, but remember that’s only worth about $5-$10. It’s not worth paying an additional $20 for the rental to get $10 worth of miles.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

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