Last Updated on May 10, 2021 by Elizabeth
Are you still waiting in line every time you pick up a rental car? There’s often no reason to join the queue when you pick up a rental car, especially at a major airport location. Here’s how to save time and skip the counter most of the time.
Car Rental Rewards Programs That Let You Skip the Line
The easiest way to skip the line or or stand in a shorter line at the rental car counter is simply to join that company’s rewards program. Here’s the scoop at the major rental car companies:
The much-advertised “Skip the Counter” option is available at over 45 participating airport locations. To take advantage of this line-skipping program, you simply need to check in online. You will be prompted to provide a few details, such as your driver’s license information and date of birth. Next, you will confirm your protection options, agree to the rental agreement terms and conditions, and enter a valid credit card. You will not be charged until you return your vehicle.
When you get to the airport location, you’ll see Alamo’s self-serve rental kiosks. But since you’ve already checked in online, you can go straight to your car.
Not renting at an airport location? Joining the Alamo Insiders rewards program is a good idea. Insiders members usually have access to a faster line, and having your information on file greatly speeds up the rental process once you’re at the counter.
Forgot to check in online? Alamo’s automated kiosks are a great fallback option to avoid the queue. It takes only a few minutes to scan your credit card and driver’s license, and the kiosk will print out a ticket you can take to the lot to choose your vehicle from a designated section.
Avis Car Rental
Avis’s free loyalty program, Avis Preferred, is both an express rental program that lets you bypass the rental counter at major and midsize airport locations and a rewards program to earn free days. Once you’ve signed up, you simply find your name on the board and proceed to your car in its assigned parking spot. Drive to the exit gate, flash your license, and you’re on the road.
At smaller locations, the process involves stopping at a rental counter to show your license and retrieve your keys. Depending on the size of the branch, there will either be a dedicated Preferred counter or priority Preferred lines, so waits are rarely too long.
Note that, even you haven’t taken the time to check in online, you can still save time when returning your car by taking advantage of the kiosk check-out.
Budget Rent a Car
The Budget Fastbreak program is mainly an express rental service rather than a rewards program. At many major airports, Budget Fastbreak members can proceed directly to the lot, choose their own car, drive to the exit gate, and show their license. On the tail end of your trip, returns are just as easy. Drop the car in the designated area and go, and Budget will email you the receipt.
Dollar Car Rental
The free Dollar Express program serves primarily as an express rental program and you can also earn points toward free award days. Most major airport locations have dedicated Dollar Express counters and smaller outlets have at least a priority Express line. Some locations post your name on a board with a pre-assigned car in a designated parking stall. With the keys and contract waiting on your dashboard, you just need to hop in and show your license at the exit gate.
Most neighborhood Dollar locations still require you to stop at a counter to take care of your paperwork, which can make the process take longer, especially if the office is busy.
While Enterprise doesn’t have a true line-skipping service, membership in the free Enterprise Plus program lets you enjoy members-only expedited check-in at participating airport locations. In addition, Enterprise offers online check-in, which can help you bypass the line when you pick up your car.
Hertz Rent a Car
Membership in the free Hertz Gold Plus Rewards program lets you skip the counter and earn points toward free award days. At most major airports, Hertz offers its Ultimate Choice service, which lets you choose your own car.
National Car Rental
Counter-skipping is available at over 60 participating Emerald Aisle locations in the U.S. and Canada. Join the Emerald Club rewards program and reserve a midsize car. Go to the Aisle section, and choose any size, color, make, or model of vehicle available—convertible, SUV, take your pick—and you’ll only pay the midsize car rate. The keys are in the car, so it’s the easiest way to get on the road fast.
Payless Car Rental
If you want to skip the line, steer clear of Payless, which offers neither online check-in nor an express service.
Thrifty Car Rental
The complimentary Blue Chip rewards program serves primarily as an express rental program and you can earn points toward free award days. Most major airport locations have dedicated Blue Chip counters and smaller outlets have at least a priority Blue Chip line. Some locations post your name on a board with a pre-assigned car in a designated parking stall. With the keys and contract waiting on your dashboard, you just need to hop in and show your license at the exit gate.
Most neighborhood locations still require you to stop at a counter to process your paperwork, which can cause delays if the office is busy.
Priceline: How to Earn Points and Skip the Line
But what if your best-price quote is with Priceline? There’s no need to chase down loyalty program points when you book through AutoSlash. Just follow the following steps:
- Choose the “Free Cancellation” / “Pay Later” rate that matches the discounted rates we send.
- Enter your loyalty program number on the same screen as you enter other reservation details, before you confirm the reservation. Then read and accept the rules and submit the reservation.