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For frequent travelers, joining a rental car rewards program can save you time and money. Some perks often include speedy pick-up and drop-off options, earning points towards free rental days, discounts, and upgrades.
The rental car rewards programs we’ll tell you about below are free to join. But, be aware your points may expire if you don’t use them within a specific timeframe. If you rent a car once a year or less, it may be worth it for you to choose a rental car rewards program that allows you to earn points towards your favorite airline or hotel rewards program instead.
Before you choose one of the programs below, remember to check where each is located and look over their list of travel partners to decide which is best for you.
Best Rental Car Rewards Programs
Hertz Gold Plus rewards
There are three levels to the Hertz no-cost loyalty program: Gold Plus, Five Star, and Presidents Circle. Earn one free rental day with 950 points in the United States, and points never expire as long as you use Hertz once every 18 months. Earn one point per $1 spent on qualifying rentals with Gold Plus. Five Star members earn 1.25 points per $1 spent and Presidents Circle members earn 1.5 points per $1 spent.
Use the app to book your rental and when you arrive, you can walk straight to your car and drive off to your destination. When it’s time to return the car, you can skip the counter again, drop it off, and go. All rewards tiers offer a free Additional Driver per rental.
While you can’t transfer your rewards to a Hertz travel partner, you may be able to earn frequent flyer or hotel credits. First, you’ll need to make sure Hertz is a partner of the frequent flyer or hotel program. Then you can ask if earning frequent flyer credits on your rental is an option.
Here’s a look at each Hertz tier:
Budget offers a Fastbreak program. You can join for free and avoid lines when picking up or dropping off your rental car. Budget also offers Fastbreak Choice at select locations allowing members to choose their rental from the Budget mobile app.
Fastbreak members can also enroll to earn Budget Bucks. You can earn a $25 coupon each time you rent twice through Budget for a minimum of two days each. You can earn up to 52 coupons a year.
You can also earn frequent flyer or hotel points when you rent a vehicle if the rewards program is a Budget partner.
Upromise college savings account holders: If you have a credit card linked with your Upromise account, you can devote up to 4% of your spending with Budget towards college savings. Use the reservation code BCD X989300 and remember that you’ll need to make the reservation on your own, not through a travel agent. You’ll see the contributions to your Upromise account 3-4 months after the rental is returned.
Avis offers three rewards tiers: Avis Preferred, Avis Preferred Plus, and Avis President’s Club.
Avis Preferred is the most basic rewards class. It allows you to bypass the counter and go straight to your Avis rental when you arrive. Avis Preferred members earn 1 point per dollar on rentals and 2 points per dollar spent on accessories. Trade-in points for upgrades in car class or gadgets like GPS and Satellite Radio, and never have to deal with blackout dates.
The Preferred Plus tier steps it up a bit with complimentary one-car class upgrades when you reserve a midsize or larger vehicle and a dedicated reservation line. Preferred Plus members earn 1.25 points per dollar on rentals and 2.5 points per dollar on accessories.
Avis President’s Club offers two-car class upgrades when you reserve a midsize or larger vehicle. Members also get a dedicated support phone number and a guaranteed car (up to full-size) when they have a confirmed 24-hour advanced reservation. President’s Club members earn 1.5 points per dollar on rentals and 3 points per dollar on accessories.
Like Budget, Avis offers a Upromise donation and it’s one point higher at 5%. Military members on official and leisure travel receive a discount of up to 35% off Pay Now rates. You can also earn airline miles or hotel points with Avis travel partners.
Here’s a comparison of each Avis Preferred Tier tier:
|Preferred||0 required||1 per rental dollar|
2 per accessory dollar
|Preferred Plus||10 rentals or $4,000 spent||1.25 per rental dollar|
2.5 per accessory dollar
|One car class (terms apply)|
|President’s Club||20 rentals or $6,000 spent||1.5 per rental dollar|
3 per accessory dollar
|Two car class (terms apply)|
Broken down into 4 levels (Plus, Silver, Gold, Platinum), the Enterprise Rewards program offers a narrower range of benefits. Enterprise points don’t expire if you make one qualifying rental every three years, and there are no blackout dates for Enterprise’s worldwide locations.
When you earn an elite tier level (Silver and higher), you’re immediately qualified for that rewards tier through February following the qualifying year. This means that a user qualifying in October 2023 remains in that awards tier through February 2025. Check out the chart below to see the number of qualifying rentals required, points earned on each dollar, and the number of free upgrades per year.
Enterprise also partners with National Car Rental. If you rent with National and are an Enterprise Plus Member, you’ll earn points toward the next tier and vice versa.
Here’s a look at each Enterprise Tier:
National Emerald Club
Nationals Emerald Club wants to make your rental experience fast and convenient. Benefits include skipping the rental counter, choosing your car instead of being assigned one, and choosing between free rental days or earning points for your frequent traveler program. After each rental, you’ll earn one rental credit — seven credits will get you one free rental day in the entry-level tier called Emerald Club. Members pay no extra driver fees and receive members-only discounts if they choose to opt-in on periodic emails.
National offers a loss damage waiver and no additional driver fees for U.S. Government travelers with official travel orders. If you’re military (active or retired) and traveling on vacation, you’ll be eligible for a discount, and family members with a dependent ID card also qualify.
Here’s a tip to ensure that you get the frequent flyer points you want: Navigate to the partner page on National and select your travel airline. You’ll see a reservation page with the selected partner airline already entered as the program to receive rental credit.
Here’s a look at each National Emerald Club tier:
|Tier||Qualified Rentals||Free Rentals||Upgrades||Perks|
|Emerald Club||0 – 12 rentals||7 credits||N/A||Pay midsize rate on midsize and above cars on the Emerald Aisle|
|Executive||12 paid rentals or 40 paid days||6 credits||Guaranteed free upgrades||Pay midsize rate on full-size cards in the Executive Area|
|Executive Elite||25 paid rentals or 85 paid days||5 credits||Guaranteed free upgrades||Private airport delivery|
Insiders at Alamo get free membership and a 5% discount on rentals in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Latin America, and the Caribbean. There are no tiers to the Alamo Insiders programs. You can earn miles or hotel points on your rentals through Alamo’s travel partners listed here.
As we mentioned above with National, Alamo Insiders can click on a partner airline or hotel from Alamo’s website to start a reservation and earn points for that program.
FOX Rent-a-Car has more locations outside of the USA than inside. FOX provides four points for every dollar spent (rental fees only no taxes or insurance). You have a choice to redeem your points with FOXBucks or Gift Cards. Be aware that you have to make your reservations online.
The gift cards are from Tango Card and you’ll need 2,500 points to redeem a minimum $25 gift card. You can choose to get a gift card to use at Amazon, Apple, Best Buy, Nike, Southwest Airlines, Starbucks, Wayfair, and more. When you log into your account and choose the gift card option to redeem your rewards, you’ll receive it in your email within 48 hours.
FOXBucks are redeemable for rental days with Fox Rent-A-Car. Please note that you can only use FOXBucks on the website. After 1600 points, you’ll get $20 FoxBucks. The max you can redeem at a time is 8,000 points or $100 FoxBucks. The Fox Rewards reservation system tracks your points. When you make an online reservation, you can see your balance and apply it for instant savings.
Payless Perks Club
Not a lot of information is available about Payless Perks. It’s free to join and provides discounted rates and access to special promotions. But that’s about all the information they give you upfront.
Payless has a Deals page showing members of several organizations and travel programs can get a 5% discount on rentals. For example, Southwest Airlines rewards members can earn 600 points and 5% off car rentals.
The Bottom Line
The best rental car rewards program doesn’t cost you anything to join, is available at the places you travel to, and offers you an easy way to earn and redeem your rewards. Here are a few that stand out for various reasons:
Most airline partners: Avis has 62 partner airlines and the runner-up is Hertz with 44 partner airlines.
Easy savings: Budget – The $25 coupon (Budget Bucks) for renting a car twice for a minimum of two days can add up quickly for frequent travelers.
Flexible Spending: FOX SuperCertificates allow you to spend points on more than just air and hotels.
You may want to review your rental car rewards program rules annually. While updating this information for 2023, we found many car rental programs modified their terms or were eliminated in the years since we first published this article. An easy tip is to download the app when you join a specific program. You’ll likely be notified immediately of any updates through the app.
Lastly, should you join more than one rental car rewards program? If it’s free to join, why not? You may eventually find that you prefer one over another. Or, you may find that your favorite isn’t available at a specific location so it can be helpful to have another one in mind. Safe travels!