Car Rentals

Unless you are visiting a large tourist city with superior public transit (see my Transit page) you have to figure how you will get around. Large hotels often have a shuttle bus to and from the airport and if you are lucky to and from a local business through out the day. The latter isn’t as common but a few places I have traveled have provided this and its been very useful. Examples include Sheraton Miyako in Tokyo, Japan, with a free shuttle ride to and from the local train station, Le Meridien in Phuket, Thailand, providing a shuttle ride to and from the mall in the center of the city for a small fee, and the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, with free shuttle rides to and from the strip. Personally, I’ve found renting a car provides flexibility and freeness which is well worth the money. Surprisingly, it’s relatively easy to earn free rentals so remember to sign up for the loyalty program of whichever rental car company you choose. Other benefits can include free upgrades to larger or premium cars!
Here is a list of the major Rental Car companies and their loyalty programs: Hertz – Gold Plus Rewards
  • Receive 1 point for every $1 spent.
  • Points can be converted to Frequent Flyer miles and redeemed for free rental days and vehicle upgrades, with no blackout dates.
  • Members who rent 20 times a year and spend $4k will earn President’s Circle status. Benefits now include free single car class upgrades for every rental, 25% more points on spend, expedited vehicle pick-up and eReturn.
  • Points don’t expire as long as you earn or redeem points with rental activity in the last 24 months.
Avis – Avis Preferred
  • Receive 1 point for every $1 spent.
  • Points can be redeemed for free rental days, vehicle upgrades, or accessories (i.e. GPS, child safety seats, satellite radio), with no blackout dates.
  • Members who rent 12 times a year and spend $5k will earn Preferred Plus status. Benefits now include free single car class upgrades for every rental and 25% more points on spend.
  • Points are available for 5 years from when earned as long as the member earns or redeems points with rental activity in the last 12 months.
Enterprise – Plus Member
  • Receive 1 point for every $1 spent.
  • Points can be redeemed for free rental days, with no blackout dates.
  • 4 Membership Reward Tiers – each earning higher reward points and additional free car upgrades.
  • Points never expire as long as you remain an active member with at least one qualifying rental every three years.
  • Money spent at National Car Rental can count towards your Enterprise Plus status as they are owned by the same parent company. Just make sure to set your award selection to Frequent Traveler Credits within your National Emerald Club profile!
Budget – Fastbreak
  • Budget doesn’t currently have a rewards program in the traditional sense. Instead they have Fastbreak and RapidRez, which provides easy pick-up and a designated drop off section so you can avoid long lines.
    • They do have a free reward program for small businesses with a minimum rental day and spend requirement.
  • Add your frequent flyer number to your reservation and earn airline miles when you rent.
National – Emerald Club
  • Receive 1 rental credit for every qualified rental, 7 credits = 1 free rental day.
  • Choose between free rental days or frequent flyer miles.
  • Members who rent 12 times a year or 40 days a year will earn Emerald Club executive. Benefits now include guaranteed free upgrades and 6 credits = 1 free rental day.
  • Rental credits remain valid as long as you remain a member, however, Free Days will expire on December 31 of the year following the year in which they were earned.
Sixt – Express Card
  • Earn miles or points with airline and hotel partners.
  • Personal data including credit card information is stored within card, therefore, quick and easy reservations and no waiting time when picking up.
  • Members who rent 5 times a year will earn the Sixt Gold Card. Benefits include 10% discounts on car rentals.
  • Sixt also provides services such as long-term car hire, wedding care hire, and moving services.
Thrifty – Blue Chip and Dollar – Express
  • Owned by same parent company, therefore, reward rules are essentially the same.
  • Receive 1 point for every $1 spent.
  • Choose between rental rewards (free rental days) or frequent flyer miles within your profile.
  • 1 Free rental weekday starts at 625 reward points; a weekend day starts at 500 reward points.
  • Can only be redeemed in U.S. and Canada locations and black out dates exist!
  • Points do not expire as long as the member earns or redeems points with rental activity in the last 24 months.
Payless – Perks Club
  • Does not offer rewards for each rental but instead member receives lower rental rates and special promotions.
Silvercar
  • A relatively new player in the market with limited locations, however, represents what modern car renting should be.
  • Promises a no hassle rental with every step performed through the Silvercar app on your phone.
  • Rental car is ALWAYS an Audi. First rental is currently $59 per day.
  • GPS, satellite radio, and wifi included for free.
  • No current loyalty program.
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