Home Rental Cars Signing Up For Car Rental Programs & What Each One Gives You

Signing Up For Car Rental Programs & What Each One Gives You

by joeheg

The point of joining airline or hotel loyalty programs is to earn loyalty points or miles you can redeem in the future for flights or hotel nights. That’s not the exact same case when it comes to car rental loyalty programs. While some car rental companies let you earn free rental days, the reason you should sign up for these programs is because of how much easier they make renting a car.

If you haven’t already signed up for those other programs, here’s info on how to register for frequent flyer programs and hotel programs.

The thing I hate most about renting a car is the experience at the rental counter. It’s when, after usually waiting in line, you have to talk to the car rental agent. You’ll hear sales pitches for an upgraded car, extra features (navigation, tolls, and satellite radio), pre-paid gas and insurance coverages.

After denying (or accepting; I’m not one to judge) each one of these, I feel like I’m haggling so I can rent the car I already reserved for the price I already agreed to pay. This is where registering for a car rental loyalty program really pays off. You answer all of these questions in advance and certify these choices will apply to all your future rentals unless you specify otherwise. Now when you walk to the counter, you hand over your driver’s license and credit card and sign for the keys, or so they say. It’s easier to rent from some 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 has emerged from bankruptcy with six airport locations. Its website has no information on a loyalty program.

Alamo – Alamo Insiders

I have often found that Alamo has the best prices for leisure rentals when using 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

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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’s 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
  • Priority 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.
  • Free additional authorized driver (spouse or domestic partner)
  • 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

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 Tango Card 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

  • Free to join
  • Skip the counter with Hertz Gold Service
  • Earn points are good for future rentals (Free rentals start at 550 points) or earn points with many travel partners.
  • When Gold members book a midsize class vehicle or larger, they have access to exclusive vehicles based on status level.

National – Emerald Club

  • Free to join
  • You can skip the counter and choose any car from the type you rented at locations with Emerald Aisle access.
  • 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.

Payless – Payless Perks Club

  • Free to join
  • Get promotions & offers exclusive to Perks members!
  • 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
  • No rental formalities
  • Earn points with any of Sixt’s travel partners.

Thrifty – Blue Chip

  • Free to join
  • With Blue Chip Rewards you can get a discounted rental or earn points with any of Thrifty’s travel partners.
  • Free Authorized Additional Driver for your spouse or domestic partner
  • Blue Chip members skip the line and go straight to the lot
  • Priority counter service when needed

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, say, once or twice a year or less, it still pays to sign up and credit your points to the airline of your choice.

National’s Emerald Club has led the way with the most perks given to members. 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. Several programs have added similar “choose your car” benefits over time.

The perk of skipping the counter is the most important thing that these programs provide. I like the ones that don’t require you to go to the counter at all. The ones that promise a “dedicated line” only help when multiple people are working a counter. A smaller airport location with only one person working means you’ll still have to wait.

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