Last Updated on December 1, 2022 by Jonathan
Have you ever noticed how some travelers always seem to get the best outcome — a cheaper price, an upgrade, a shorter wait — no matter where they go? Gaming the system is a sport that anyone can learn. Here are easy ways to give yourself a rental car upgrade every time you travel.
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Remember, the rental car industry is seeing historic demand as we head into the summer season. That typically means higher prices and longer lines at the check-in counter. Travel pros get around those problems with a few nifty tricks.
PRO TIP 1: Never rent without first joining the club.
Rental car rewards programs are your ticket to getting upgrades, skipping queues and snagging lots of other perks. Best of all, they don’t cost anything to join.
Let’s say you are thinking about renting with Hertz. Before you book, you’d be a fool not to sign up for Hertz’s Gold Plus Rewards. This program delivers key perks like skipping the counter and earning free award days. Customers who join the program are automatically upgraded to Five Star elite status through June 2022. Normally, achieving Five Star status requires at least 10 rentals or spending $2,000 per year. At this status level, the renter is entitled to a one-car-class upgrade (up to a premium car) and a 25% bonus on each reservation.
Choose your car.
Once you are enrolled in Gold Plus Rewards, you can take advantage of Hertz Ultimate Choice. This service at most Hertz airport locations that lets you choose your car from an entire row of available vehicles. National Car Rental offers a similar service when you have Emerald Executive status.
Skip the line.
Joining a company’s rental rewards program is the easiest way to skip the line at the rental car counter.
Be sure to add your loyalty club member number when reserving your rental through AutoSlash. That’s a key step to ensure you receive the benefits of membership and bypass the line at the rental counter.
PRO TIP 2: Turbocharge your status with the right credit card.
If your credit card doesn’t deliver travel benefits, you’re doing it wrong — simply because you’re leaving free perks on the table. The best credit cards with travel rewards can add instant value to any trip. That’s because they deliver services and perks you would normally pay for. Or they might give you points or cashback that can be redeemed later.
If you have any Visa Infinite Card, you are instantly eligible for elite status in the rental car reward programs of Hertz’s Gold Plus Rewards, National’s Emerald Club and Avis Preferred. It’s a perk worth thousands of dollars.
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Alternatively, if you are renting with Hertz, the Capital One Venture X Card delivers automatic top-tier status in Hertz’s President’s Circle. Normally, you would need 15 rentals or you must spend at least $3,000 per year to get this status. This status entitles the renter to a guaranteed one-car-class upgrade (up to a premium car). There’s also a 50% point bonus on each reservation, designated parking spaces at major airports and a vehicle guarantee if you book at least 24 hours in advance. It’s great to have a guaranteed car when everyone else is told “no cars available.”
Not renting from Hertz? No problem, thanks to elite status matching. Your elite Hertz status can be matched to elite-level status with National and Avis.