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How do Car Rental Loyalty Programs Compare?

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Just like Airlines and Hotels, Rental Car companies have reward and loyalty programs. While they may not be as sophisticated, they still offer some pretty good benefits. Since its usually free to signup, you might as well collect the rewards and enjoy the perks while you're at it. Here's a comparison of benefits and perks offered by major car rental companies.

Faster Rentals Free Additional Driver Rewards & Perks
Bypass the counter Family members & Business Associates
  • Pay for mid-size car & pick any car in the aisle
  • Discounted rate for all rentals
  • Exclusive coupons.
  • Earn credit towards free rentals
Bypass the counter Spouse or Domestic partner
  • Earn points even on add-ons like insurance, car seat, etc
  • Redeem points for free rental days
Bypass the counter
  • Discounted rates

Authorized Driver
  • Min 10% discount off retail rates
  • Stackable coupons

  • Discounted rates
  • Exclusive email offers

  • Special offers via email
  • Redeem points for free rental days
Designated line at counter
  • Free day after 16 paid rental days
Designated line at counter
  • Free day after 16 paid rental days

Faster Rentals

Waiting for your turn at the rental counter can be extremely frustrating, especially after a long flight. Depending on the location and time, you can run into a long queue with wait times of 30 minutes or more. Once you get to the counter, you need to go through the same drill every single time - hand over your license and credit card, get through the sales pitch for prepaid gas, insurance, etc before finally getting your keys. 

The good news is that some rental agencies allow you to skip the rental counter. Isn't that sweet. With your license, credit card and preferences already on file, you can get off the shuttle right by the exclusive parking lot, get in your vehicle and drive off. This perk is only offered by National, Hertz and Avis in select locations. 

Dollar and Thrifty don't let you skip the counter but offer a dedicated line at the rental counter for their members for speedy service.

Free Additional Driver

Most rental agencies charge extra to add an additional driver to your rental car. This charge is waived off in certain rental locations for spouses, domestic partners and business associates. Since rules vary between states and even between rental offices within the same state, the only way to know for sure is to call the rental office and ask. The good news is that some rental agencies allow members of their loyalty program to add an additional driver for free.

Rewards, Perks & Discounts

Members of loyalty programs are entitled to discounted rates and exclusive coupons. Alamo Insiders get a 5% discount off the retail rates. Even better - you can usually combine this discount with additional coupons to save even more. You can also earn points or credits with each rental that can be redeemed for free rental days. Points are usually earned on the base rate and do not include add-ons, taxes and fees. However, Hertz allows you to earn points even on add-ons like insurance, car seat, etc.

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