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One of the feel-good milestones of rewards 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 and is one of the most significant driving forces behind loyalty programs.
What feels even better is when we attain elite status without following the traditional path of being a loyal customer, almost like having your cake and eating it too!
This month we’ve covered the best methods of acquiring hotel status for free, and how to get elite status with a frequent flyer program without flying, and in this post, we’ll shine a light on how to achieve elite status within rental car rewards programs without the required number of paid rentals.
While rental car rewards programs don’t generally hold the same aspirational value or appeal as their hotel and airline counterparts, the idea of jumping off a transcontinental flight, skipping the lines at the car rental counter, and scoring a free upgrade to a more luxurious vehicle is enticing, to say the least.
The benefits of attaining elite status with a car rental company can include:
- Free upgrades to a better vehicle
- Guaranteed availability
- Having the car delivered to you on arrival
- Less paid days to receive free rentals
- Discounted rentals
- Increased points earning on rentals
We won’t be covering every car rental rewards program in this post, just the ones we think provide the best value with an easily attainable path to elite status.
Earning Car Rental Elite Status as a Credit Card Benefit
World Elite MasterCard®
One of the many benefits of holding a World Elite MasterCard® is gaining elite status in two rental car rewards programs, in addition to perks and discounts with three others.
- National Car Rental – Emerald Club Executive Level
- Sixt Rent a Car – Complimentary Platinum Sixt Card
- Budget Rent a Car – Complimentary membership in Budget Fastbreak Program
- Enterprise Rent-A-Car – Receive a 5% discount and a complimentary upgrade with every rental
- Alamo – Receive a 5% discount and a complimentary upgrade with every rental
It typically takes between 10/15 paid rentals to reach an elite tier that offers any tangible benefit, so earning elite perks and benefits across five rental car companies is a huge plus for points and miles fans with a World Elite MasterCard®. Call the MasterCard Travel Concierge at 855-802-1387 for assistance.
This includes any of the following rewards credit cards:
- Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard® (See Terms)
- Virgin Atlantic® World Elite MasterCard®
- Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite MasterCard®
- Citi Prestige® Card
- Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card
- Citi ThankYou® Premier Card
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® (also includes the Platinum, Platinum Business, and Gold World Elite versions of this card)
- AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver World Elite Mastercard®
American Express Platinum Charge Cards
All Platinum cards from American Express offer complimentary memberships with Avis, Hertz, and National Car Rental with varying levels of benefits, this includes both The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN and The Platinum Card® from American Express which offer a huge array of elite travel benefits.
- Avis Preferred® Membership – Skip the line and paperwork and go straight to your car, 25% discount when using coupon AWD# A756900 and a one level upgrade with # UUNA007
- Hertz Gold Plus Rewards® – Upgrades when available
- National Car Rental® Emerald Club Executive Membership – Choose your car, guaranteed upgrades, 20% discount on rentals, fast-tracked rewards earning (Through 1/31/2019 use this link for Executive Elite status & bonus credit for a free rental)
Elite status is not the only way you can save on car rentals using credit cards; there are a variety of cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the new Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card which both offer Primary Rental Insurance as a benefit. See our post on the Sapphire Preferred Auto Rental CDW for details.
If you're a cardholder of a Visa Infinite category of cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve® or The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card you'll be grated elite status in several programs as well. These include:
Earning Car Rental Elite Status via Status Match and Partnership Agreements
If you already hold elite status with any of the major rental car agencies, one of the easiest ways to achieve it with an opposition 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.
While Sixt doesn’t have a formal status match program, Delta SkyMiles elites that are Gold Medallion or higher will receive Sixt Platinum status.
Delta also has a formalized partnership agreement with Hertz.
Statusmatcher.com also has numerous confirmed status matches for Sixt from another car rental, hotel, and airline rewards program, as does Avis, particularly when members apply through social channels.
United MileagePlus and Hertz have a partnership agreement which gives MileagePlus members the following levels of elite status:
- United MileagePlus® Club Card and The United MileagePlus Presidential Plus℠ Card members receive Hertz President's Circle® status.
- Premier Silver and Premier Gold members will receive Hertz Five Star® status.
- MileagePlus members with Premier Platinum status and higher will receive Hertz President's Circle status.
Quoting the discount code (CDP) 62455, PC#305023 and your MileagePlus number at the time of reservation will save members up to 40% on each qualifying rental in addition to earning award miles.
Marriott Rewards & Starwood Preferred Guest have teamed up with Hertz as well where Marriott/SPG Platinum Elite members can receive either Five Star or President's Circle status.
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 hiring a car.
Our top World Elite MasterCard® picks for loyalty aficionados are the Arrival Plus with its versatile rewards points, and the Prestige Card due to its exceptional benefits like the complimentary 4th-night stay at any hotel reservation made through Citi Concierge, and the $250 Air Travel Credit for flight-related expenses.
The Amex Platinum and its partner in points, the Business Platinum Card, are always sitting at the top of rewards card favorites although, in this case, the World Elite MasterCard® family have them beat.
Do you have any tips or tricks we’ve missed for getting elite status with rental car rewards programs that we’ve missed? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!
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