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One of the feel-good milestones of travel is achieving elite status within a loyalty program. The recognition that we are a valued client and the perks, upgrades, discounts, and extra points elite status affords us can be a huge incentive. It's one of the most significant driving forces behind loyalty programs.
What feels even better is when we can attain elite status without needing to be a loyal customer — almost like having your cake and eating it, too! At this time, car rental benefits might be an even better bonus than airline or hotel benefits, considering the direction the travel industry is headed.
Recently, we updated our posts on the best methods for acquiring hotel status for free and how to get elite status with a frequent flyer program without flying. Now, let's show you how to achieve elite status within rental car rewards programs without the required number of paid rentals.
Benefits of Rental Car Elite Status
Rental car rewards programs generally don't hold the same aspirational value or appeal as their hotel and airline counterparts. However, the idea of coming off a long flight, skipping the lines at the car rental counter, and scoring a free upgrade to a more luxurious vehicle is certainly enticing.
The benefits of attaining elite status with a car rental company can include:
- Going straight to the car without waiting in line at pick-up
- Free upgrades to a better vehicle
- Guaranteed availability
- Less paid days to receive free rentals
- Discounted rentals
- Increased points earning on rentals
- Even having the car delivered to you on arrival
We won’t be covering every car rental rewards program in this post. Instead, we are focusing on ones we feel provide the best value with an easily-attainable path to elite status.
Earning Car Rental Elite Status as a Credit Card Benefit
American Express Platinum Cards
Both the The Business Platinum Card® from American Express and The Platinum Card® from American Express offer elite status with Avis, Hertz, and National Car Rental — in addition to a huge array of other travel benefits. Make sure to enroll to get the following benefits:
- Avis Preferred: Get Preferred Plus status. Skip the line and paperwork and go straight to your car. Plus, get a complimentary upgrade when available. Use AWD discount code A756900 to receive discounts off your rental.
- Hertz Gold Plus Rewards: Get Hertz Gold status. Bypass the counter, pick your car, and go. Plus, get an extra driver for free. Use the Amex Corporate Discount Code (CDP) 211762 to save on your rental, receive a 4-hour grace period on returns within the US, and get a one-car-class upgrade (when available).
- National Car Rental Emerald Club Executive: Get Executive tier status. Choose your car and receive automatic upgrades when renting at least a full-size car. Plus, earn a complimentary rental day after 6 qualifying rentals.
Enrollment is required for select Amex benefits.
If you're a cardholder of one of the Visa Infinite category of cards, you'll be granted elite status in several programs as well. These include:
- Avis Preferred: Get Preferred Plus status. Save up to 30% off rentals when using promo code “S107100”
- National Car Rental Emerald Club: Get Executive membership. Choose your car, guaranteed upgrades, 25% discount on rentals using promo code “5030849”, and fast-tracked rewards earning
Visa Infinite cards used to come with Hertz Gold Plus Rewards status. Now, you'll get certain benefits — like upgrades and bonus points — when using the Visa Infinite CDP #2150933 at booking.
Similarly, you can get up to a 30% (minimum of 10%) discount when booking rental cars through Silvercar. You must use your Visa Infinite card to pay for the rental. You can also try using the promo code “VISAINF20” at checkout.
Eligible Visa Infinite cards include:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- United Club℠ Infinite Card
- U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card
- Crystal® Visa Infinite® Credit Card
Select United Credit Cards
United cardholders could get Hertz President's Circle elite status until December 2021. Now, United has ditched Hertz to partner with Avis instead, offering cardholders Avis President’s Club status.
The following four United credit cards provide top-tier Avis President's Club elite status:
- United Club℠ Infinite Card
- United℠ Presidential Plus℠ Card
- United Club℠ Business Card
- United℠ Presidential Plus℠ Business Card
Avis President's Club grants complimentary upgrades when available, 25%-50% points earning bonus, and exclusive monthly email offers.
In addition to select cardholders, United Premier elite members also get Avis President's Club status. More on that in the section below.
Capital One Venture X
Lastly, the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card offers top-tier Hertz President's Circle status as an automatic benefit on the card.
Credit Card Travel Protections
Elite status is not the only way you can save on car rentals using credit cards. A variety of cards offer primary rental insurance as a benefit. Eligible cards include the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card. See our post on the Sapphire Preferred Auto Rental CDW for details.
Get Rental Car Elite Status Through Airline Elite Status
Hertz: Delta has a formalized partnership agreement with Hertz. Gold Medallion members receive Five Star status in Hertz Gold Plus Rewards. Platinum Medallion and Diamond Medallion members receive Hertz President's Circle Status. To reserve a car and earn miles, book here using Delta discount number 165385.
Sixt: Delta also partners with Sixt. SkyMiles members will receive 500 miles for every rental with Sixt worldwide. Plus, Medallion elites can match their status to Sixt. SkyMiles Silver Medallion members get a Gold Sixt card, while SkyMiles Gold, Platinum & Diamond Medallion members get a Platinum Sixt card.
United MileagePlus and Avis have a partnership agreement that offers MileagePlus Premier members the following levels of elite status:
- Premier Silver and Premier Gold members will receive Avis Preferred Club status.
- MileagePlus members with Premier Platinum status and higher will receive Avis President's Club status.
Quoting the MileagePlus Avis Worldwide Discount Code A791500 and your MileagePlus number at the time of reservation will save you up to 35% on each qualifying rental — in addition to earning award miles.
Hertz and Marriott have also teamed up, although this partnership isn't as good as it used to be. Marriott Rewards and SPG elite members used to qualify for up to President's Circle elite status with Hertz. However, all references to this elite status match have been scrubbed from Marriott's Hertz page.
Still, you can get some Hertz perks and bonus points when using discount code (CDP) 154080, PC# 204918. Or just book through this site.
Earning Car Rental Elite Status via Status Matches
Once you have elite status with any of the major rental car agencies, one of the easiest ways to achieve it with another program is to apply for a status match. Both National and Hertz have a formalized status match process that can be found via the links below.
Statusmatcher.com also has plenty of data points on other status match opportunities. For example, while Sixt doesn’t have a formal status match program, StatusMatcher has numerous confirmed status matches for Sixt from other car rental, hotel, and airline rewards programs. Ditto with Avis. In fact, we even have a guide to status matching with Avis.
Earning elite status with car rental rewards programs can provide members with upgraded vehicles, preferential treatment, priority access at the reservations desk, discounts on rentals, and more. And although rental car elite status doesn’t hold the same appeal as an upgrade to a suite at The Ritz, it can certainly improve the experience of renting a car.
Do you have any tips or tricks we’ve missed for getting elite status with rental car rewards programs? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!
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