How to maximise points and miles on your next car rental

Mar 16, 2022

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Love them or loathe them, rental cars can be an essential part of travelling. They are a convenient way of getting from A to B without relying on public transport, navigating taxi services that you may not be familiar with or simply useful for taking the pressure off your legs.

Though the hiring process can be time-consuming, expensive and sometimes frustrating – especially if you’re unlucky enough to suffer any damage to your hire vehicle – booking a rental car can be a very easy way to earn lots of points and miles.

Related: I don’t like rental cars, but I sure love rental car insurance

Whether you’re hiring at home or abroad, here’s how to maximise your points and miles earnings.

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Fact: Family life is a busy life. (Photo by Getty Images)

Use the right credit card

By paying with the right credit card you can earn the points and miles of your choice for the cost of the rental.

Remember if you are using a credit card that comes with complimentary travel insurance, you can rely on this insurance to cover the car rental, rather than paying more for the rental provider’s own optional policies. For example, the travel insurance provided with The Platinum Card from American Express comes with £50,000 (including any excess) of car rental theft or damage as well as £500,000 ($1 million in the U.S.) for damage to another car.

Related: Understanding your credit card’s complimentary travel insurance

Earning Avios on car rental

British Airways Executive Club allows you to earn Avios with the following rentals:

  • Avis: Earn 5 Avios per £1 spent, as well as enjoying a free additional driver with every rental. New members to Avis Preferred will also earn 1,000 bonus Avios for their first rental.
  • Budget: Earn 2 Avios per £1 spent.
  • Zipcar: Earn 50 Avios on every Zipcar booking, with a bonus 1,000 Avios for your first Zipcar booking.

Related: Should you choose a Zipcar for your next London airport transfer?

Remember you can book a rental car through BA Holidays and earn an extra 1 Avios per £1 spent, on top of the amounts above.

Related: How to save big and boost your Avios balance by combining travel with BA Holidays

(Photo by @isr4el via Twenty20)

Earning Virgin Points on car rental

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club allows you to earn Virgin Points with the following rentals:

  • Hertz: Earn 1,000 Virgin Points on leisure rentals, or 500 Virgin Points for corporate rentals. You can also receive up to 10% off all rentals when adding your Flying Club number, and an extra 100 Virgin Points if you have Hertz Gold Plus membership.
  • Avis: Earn 500 Virgin Points for leisure rentals of up to six days, increasing to 1,000 Virgin Points for rentals of seven or more days. For corporate rentals the earning rate is 250 Virgin Points up to six days, with 500 Virgin Points for rentals of seven days or more.
  • Alamo: Earn 1,000 Virgin Points per rental in the United States and Canada.
  • National: Earn 600 Virgin Points per rental in Europe up to six days, increasing to 1,200 Virgin Points for rentals of seven days or more. In the United States and Canada, it’s 1,000 Virgin Points per rental.
  • SIXT: Earn 500 Virgin Points for every car rental, as well as 3 Virgin Points for every euro spent on SIXT ride premium limousine services.

Earning points and miles within car rental programmes

Did you know major car rental companies have their own loyalty programmes you can earn points and miles in?

If you are not hiring cars regularly you may not earn enough points to redeem for anything of much value, but this situation allows you to triple-dip your points and miles earning for each rental:

  • Booking through the Avios or Virgin platform.
  • Paying with the right credit card.
  • Earning points and miles in the rental provider’s own programme.

With so many different rental programmes to choose from, let’s focus on Hertz and Avis, as you can obtain automatic elite status in both these programmes with The Platinum Card from American Express.

Hertz

Hertz’s loyalty program is called Hertz Gold Plus Rewards and it’s free to join. You can redeem your points for free rentals. There aren’t a ton of perks, but here’s what comes with Hertz Five Star Gold:

  • Earn 1.25 points per U.S. dollar spent.
  • A one-class car upgrade based on availability.
  • When renting from a Hertz location with an Ultimate Choice lot, Hertz Five Star members have access to a wider range of cars.
  • Complete 15 Hertz rentals and enjoy top-tier President’s Circle benefits for a day.

Things get tricky when it comes to redeeming Hertz Gold Rewards points. Hertz has two redemption levels: Standard and AnyDay. Standard awards are significantly lower priced but are restricted to specific dates. On the other hand, AnyDay rewards can be redeemed without blackout dates but cost twice the number of points and can generally be a bad deal.

Hertz Standard rentals are half the cost of AnyDay rentals and start at 750 points per day. These rentals are valid for round-trip rentals in the U.S.

Further, you can rent Specialty, Adrenaline and Prestige cars for more points. The Specialty tier includes higher-end vehicles and can be found at most Hertz locations. On the other hand, Adrenaline has performance vehicles like Corvettes and high-end Mustangs while Prestige has ultra-high-end luxury vehicles like Caddilac Escalades, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW.

Speciality vehicle rentals start at 1,500 points per day, Adrenaline starts at 2,200 points and Prestige starts at 2,500 points. You can view the award chart for these redemptions on Hertz’s website.

Hertz also offers discounts on one-week rentals booked with points. Weekly standard rentals start at 3,750 points for a round-trip seven-day rental. This is roughly 535 points per day, which is a solid discount over booking seven one-day rentals.

Finally, one-way rentals — where you return your vehicle to a different Hertz location — are twice the cost of a round-trip rental. This means a one-day, one-way Standard rental will cost 1,500 points.

Related: Hertz has a solution for the rental car shortage: 100,000 Teslas

(Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

Avis

Avis loyalty programme is called Avis Preferred. You will receive Avis Preferred Plus status with the Platinum Card where you’ll earn 1.25 points per U.S. dollar spent on the rental cost and 2.5 points per U.S. dollar spent on optional products. After $7,000 spent or 25 rentals, that increases to 1.5 points and 3 points, respectively. You’ll also enjoy:

  • Complimentary upgrades (based on availability).
  • Access to a dedicated Avis Preferred Plus customer service and reservation line.

Earning Avis Preferred points is very straightforward, and redeeming is also fairly simple. There are four reward levels, and the amount of points required varies based on the rental’s standard daily rate.

  • Rentals up to $50 per day are 700 points per day.
  • Rentals between $50 and $85 per day are 1,400 points per day.
  • Rentals between $85 and $125 per day are 2,100 points per day.
  • Rentals between $125 and $225 per day are 1,400 points per day.

Related: How a single excellent experience restored my faith in rental cars

Featured image by @Gouldjosh via Twenty20

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