When we review the rewards programs of various rental car companies, we find pretty sizable variation from one to the next. The major companies geared toward business travelers tend to have the most lucrative programs. Third-tier companies like Alamo and Payless tend to have no rewards programs. And the truly independent companies tend to have reward programs that aren’t very rewarding. The developers of the ACE Rental Genius followed the latter model.
In fairness, ACE is different than most modern rental car companies. Like the original National Car Rental System, each ACE location is independently-owned and operated. That means that ACE rarely allows one-way rentals. While the company was once made up of both corporate and affiliate locations, today ACE is simply a booking system and affiliates. Payless acquired the corporate locations.
While ACE is not a big player in the rental car industry, there are still 350 ACE locations. However, the company created a model where customers do not receive free rental car days. The lowest-level award that can be sent to a renter is a $25 gift card for Google Play or Starbucks. Those $25 awards require spending more than $1,500 over less than two years. Otherwise, the points expire. And if the 1.67% effective rebate wasn’t a sufficient deterrent, there’s more.
The Downfalls of ACE Rental Genius
- The ACE Rental Genius points expire after two years and a renter only earns one point per pre-tax dollar spent (unless there’s a promotion). The lowest value reward that’s actually a reward for a renter requires $1,500 in pre-tax purchases to get a $25 gift card.
- ACE Rental Genius points can only be earned if a renter books directly through the ACE website. The company wants to make comparing prices difficult and to avoid rewarding customers when ACE has to pay commissions to major booking sites such as Expedia and Priceline. We can’t imagine many cases where a renter would benefit by booking directly through ACE (instead of comparing prices) to earn points which are meaningless except in the most extreme cases.
The personnel at ACE do solicit input on potential awards in the Rental Genius program. We could state that the most “highly desirable award” from a rental car company would be rental car redemptions; those existed in a previous iteration of the program.
The awards available at the moment? Ten thousand points ($10,000 in pre-tax spend) gets one access to a video game console, 4,000 points open up awards like a Kindle Fire, and 1,500 points open up $25 Starbucks cards*. Carbon offsets or a tree planted on the renter’s behalf are possible at the 300 and 400 point levels, respectively, but those are gifts to humanity (not the renter). Related: