Signing up for Hertz Gold Plus Rewards loyalty program just became a no-brainer. Since July 1, customers who join Hertz Gold Plus Rewards are automatically upgraded to Five Star elite status for the remainder of 2021. Existing members can earn double points on rentals through September 30.
Though Hertz filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year, this rewards program is definitely worth your time.
Hertz Gold Plus Rewards has long been known for perks like skipping the counter and earning free award days. With recent improvements like more flexible redemptions, faster service, a lower minimum age—and now an automatic upgrade—the program has just become even better.
The Three Tiers of Hertz Gold Plus Rewards
There are three tiers of Hertz Gold Plus Rewards.
- Gold: Everyone starts at the Gold level and starts earning points with his or her first rental. For a rental to count toward free rental days, you must book the “Pay Later” rate with your member number. After seven rentals, Gold-level members can experience one day of next-tier perks with Five Star for a Day.
- Five Star: Normally, achieving Five Star status requires at least 10 rentals or spending $2,000 per year. The renter is entitled to a one-car-class upgrade (up to a premium car) and a 25% bonus on each reservation. After 15 rentals, Five Star-level members can experience one day of next-tier perks with President’s Circle for a Day.
- President’s Circle: To hit President’s Circle status, you need 15 rentals or you must spend at least $3,000 per year. The renter is entitled 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”. President’s Circle members can also upgrade to any available car on the lot after their 30th and 40th rentals. They can also use Hertz Valet, an airport shuttle service, after their 15th, 20th and 40th rentals at select airport locations.
How to Earn Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Points
Remember always add your Hertz Gold Rewards member number when reserving your rental through AutoSlash (and Priceline) to ensure you can skip the counter and earn points on your rental.
All qualifying “Pay Later” reservations are eligible to earn Gold Plus points or airline miles. We recommend electing the Gold Plus points because the rates required for airline mile bonuses tend to be more expensive than other available rates. In addition, there are federal excise taxes on miles that may exceed the value of the miles awarded.
If you are actively seeking the lowest rates on rental car reservations, opt for the points toward free days. Unless there’s a promo, the base earning rate at the Gold level equals one Gold Plus point per $1 spent (before taxes and fees).
Five Star and President’s Circle members earn percentage-based bonuses but the points-earning chart is easy to remember. You will earn bonus points based on your status level: At the Five-Star level, there is a 25% multiplier equaling 1.25 points per dollar. And if you’re in the President’s Circle, you get a 50% bonus equaling 1.5 points per dollar.
Note that Gold Plus Rewards points expire after 18 months of inactivity.
Rental Car Pickups for Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Members
Once you’ve acquired a Gold Plus Rewards number from Hertz, use it on every “Pay Later” reservation. A renter isn’t eligible for benefits unless the number is entered at the time of booking.
Benefits vary among major airports and smaller airports/neighborhood sites. At major airports, you walk up, find your name on the board, and go directly to a pre-assigned vehicle or aisle. Then drive straight to the exit gate. There are no lines. You present your driver’s license at departure (unless you choose to upgrade—more on that in a minute). At non-airport locations, there may be a separate line for Gold Plus members. You will likely have an assigned car but you still have to go to the counter, like at any other company.
Upgrades for Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Members
At selected airport locations, Hertz offers the Ultimate Choice Upgrade program. Rather than going to the reserved selection (either car class, Five Star, or President’s Circle areas), you can pick a vehicle off the Premium Upgrade zone. The cost of the premium upgrades is an additional $35 per day (plus tax) for Gold and Five Star members. It’s an additional $25 per day (plus tax) for President’s Circle members.
On the other hand, sometimes it makes sense to downgrade. A renter with higher status in the program can pick vehicles from “downgraded” vehicle selections if desired. You might be in the President’s Circle aisle at an airport and see a better vehicle in the Five Star or Full-Size car sections. The confirmation emails you’ll get from Hertz before pickup remind you to pick among the choice of selections. There’s little consistency; one President’s Circle reservation might be a Cadillac ATS and the next could be a Toyota Corolla.
Tips When Signing Up for Hertz Gold Plus Rewards
The minimum enrollment age is 21.
When you enroll in the program, you will need your driver’s license handy. You’ll provide an email address and create a password. You can choose between getting email alerts, text alerts, or both.
When you sign up, opting for eReturn lets you drop off your car quickly with no lines or waiting. When returning the car, just leave the completed Express Return slip on your rental agreement with the keys and go. Hertz will send you a PDF copy of your eReceipt within 30 minutes of closing your Rental Agreement.
You will also need a credit card. Hertz does not allow you to sign up for this program with a debit card. If you have a credit card that provides rental car coverage, strongly consider using that credit card. You may enter additional credit cards to your account, if you like.
Next, affirm that you would like to earn points—why you’re joining the program—and enter other loyalty programs you belong to.
While you have the option to buy into Hertz’s fuel prepay program, do NOT check this box.
You can choose your car category preference, from compact car all the way up to SUV.
There’s a place to note your preferences for insurance coverage in the U.S. and abroad. You can accept or decline the loss damage waiver (LDW), Liability Insurance Supplement (LIS) and Personal Accident Insurance (PAI) options. Don’t know which box to check? Consult our Quick Primer on Rental Car Insurance and Ultimate Glossary of Car Rental Terms.
Unsprisingly, there’s also some upsell here. You can purchase optional add-ons such as satellite radio and GPS navigation.
For Gold members, a benefit is that an spouse or domestic partner can drive for free on “Pay Later” rentals in the US.
You can’t decline the Currency Conversion Charge on international rentals during enrollment. Don’t forget to do it at the rental counter.
What We Like (and Don’t) About Hertz Gold Plus Rewards
What do we like? We like the free membership with no annual fee, and the ability to skip the counter at select locations. It’s great that there’s no point expiration as long as you have some activity within the previous 18 months. We also like getting mobile alerts with rental car details and location before arrival.
The drop-and-go car return with eReturn is terrific, and you can transfer points for free to a spouse or partner who is a Gold Plus member. We also like that spouses pay no additional driver fees in the U.S.
We’re ambivalent about the logistics of earning and redeeming points. Hertz made changes that make it more difficult to get to Five Star status. On the other hand, redeeming points is now much easier. Now you can use a combination of points and currency—instead of one or the other—to pay for rentals and vehicle upgrades. There are also new ways to earn and use points beyond rentals—including unique experiences and Hertz Rewards—via Hertz’s auction platform. And now you can use your points to redeem for luxury vehicles in Hertz Dream Cars Collection.
While National Car Rental is known for its easy-to-accrue, great benefits, Hertz’s awards are spending based.
At National, a free day is a free day, whether one-way or round-trip. Hertz breaks down awards into Standard (off-peak) and AnyDay (peak) Awards. The AnyDay awards cost twice as many points as a Standard award. Hertz has an excruciatingly detailed calendar of blackout dates when standard awards are not available at each site.
The award chart is needlessly complicated. The program breaks down awards by day on weekdays, by day on weekends, weekly, one-way, vehicle collection, and by country. The cheapest award is now 750 points for a Standard weekend day award in the U.S., which is nominally $750 in pre-tax spend.
There may be a penalty for canceling a reservation booked with points within 24 hours of pickup.
- Gold members forfeit 50 percent of the points used toward the booking.
- Five Star members forfeit 25 percent of the points used toward the booking.
- President’s Circle members will not forfeit any points.
If a Gold Plus member does not cancel prior to the pickup time and is a no show, all
the points used toward the rental amount will be forfeited, regardless of tier status.
There is one aspect of the Gold Plus program that is frequently missed. A member can buy points if just a little shy of a major award redemption. The purchase price of points is a poor value. (But if you are just a few points away from a large redemption award, you might be tempted.)