We needed a rental car for a single day in New York from JFK. I knew it wasn’t going to be cheap but it still could be less money than taking an Uber or Lyft and more convenient than public transportation. I didn’t want to spend a lot of time searching for prices, so I skipped most of the usual steps of finding a cheap car rental and went right to Autoslash to find the lowest price available.
I was shown a price from Dollar which was lower than all the other companies, as long as I didn’t care what class of car I’d get. Since the rental was for less than 12 hours, I took it. I booked through Priceline, which is the preferred agent when searching for prices on Autoslash. I could try to match the price on my own by booking direct but I’m willing to give Autoslash whatever commission they’ll get for the free service they provide. You’re supposed to be able to provide your loyalty number to Priceline when making your booking, and I thought that I had done so.
As the trip approached, I noticed the reservation wasn’t showing up on my Dollar Express account. I wrote Dollar on Twitter to see if I could add my number to my reservation.
This is something I’ve done with numerous rental car companies in the past.
Apparently, not with Dollar.
So according to them, it’s not possible to add a number to your reservation and I’d have to cancel and rebook, which might lead to a higher price. It wasn’t a big deal to not add my number to my account for earning points, as I figured I could always ask to credit my rental to a program after the fact. It was only a one-day rental anyway.
The bigger problem was that because my information wasn’t on file, I might have to stand at the counter. Avoiding the counter is one of the biggest perks of signing up for car rental loyalty programs.
When I got to the Dollar counter, I hoped there wasn’t a long line. Luckily, there was only one person was in front of me. He was getting all the questions I wanted to avoid. Did he want insurance, prepay tolls, prepay gas? Going through these upcharges is a minor inconvenience but I still hate getting an upsell, so I was mentally preparing myself.
When it was my turn, I walked up to the counter. The agent asked if I was renting from Dollar or Thrifty, as they shared the same desk. I said Dollar and provided my license and my Chase Sapphire Reserve card to pay for the rental since it provides primary coverage for rental cars.
She looked up my reservation and said, Oh! I see you’re a Dollar Express member. Let me add your information to the reservation.
What? I thought that was impossible to do.
Within a few minutes, I was provided my rental contract and told to go out to the lot and take one of the compact cars. When I got to the lot, there was only one car available, which was great since I didn’t have to spend time deciding on which one to rent.
So I guess it is possible for Dollar to add your Express number to your contract, just maybe not online. If you’re in this situation, I’d just have your member number ready when you get to the counter. The only downside I experienced is that even though I thought I set my Dollar Express account to earn airline miles and not Dollar Express points, I still earned Dollar points for the rental. No biggie as they just added to the points I earned the last time I rented from Dollar.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary