Hitting the road this summer? Here's everything you need to know about rental car elite status
Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with the latest information.
From upgrades to ways to save money, elite status is popular with savvy travelers. But rental car elite status doesn't always get the attention it deserves. Rental car status can pay off — one TPG staffer rented a $100,000 BMW 7 Series for $3 per day.
Many rental car elite status tiers can be obtained through credit cards or airline or hotel status, making them more accessible than you might think.
Ahead of what will likely be a record-busy summer of travel, rental car elite status can help you skip lines, take the keys and be on your way in record time.
Today, we'll explore the different elite tiers offered by major rental car companies so you're aware of tips that help you earn and make the most of your rental car status. Don't forget to check out our post on saving money with rental cars, including the helpful tips from AutoSlash.
The baseline membership with Avis is called Avis Preferred. Anyone can join and it’s completely free. Membership allows you to go straight to your car, which has saved me lots of time over the years. You can also earn Avis Preferred points for rentals (you earn 1 point per dollar spent), though you’ll forgo earning airline miles or hotel points if you select this option.
|Avis Preferred||Avis Preferred Plus||Avis President’s Club|
|Qualifications||Free to join, open to the public.||10 rentals or spending $4,000 per calendar year.||20 rentals or spending $6,000 per calendar year.|
|Point accrual rate on rentals and accessories||1 and 2.||1.25 and 2.5.||1.5 and 3.|
|Upgrades||Up to one class.||Up to two classes.|
|Guaranteed vehicle||Up to full size with 24-hour notice.|
You can also earn Avis Preferred Plus status after earning 60,000 American Airlines Loyalty Points or by holding United Premier Silver or Gold status. President's Club is available to those who earn 100,000 American Airlines Loyalty Points or hold United Premier Platinum, 1K or Global Services status. Primary card members of the United Club Infinite Card, United Presidential Plus Card, United Club Business Card and United Presidential Plus Business Card also are eligible for instant President's Club status.
Avis also has an unpublished Chairman’s Club status tier, which is invite-only.
The information for the United Presidential Plus Card, United Club Business Card and United Presidential Plus Business Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
The Enterprise Plus program works similarly to Avis Preferred. Anyone can join as a base member and begin earning points for all qualifying rentals (you earn 1 point per dollar spent). You can then redeem these points for free rental days. However, the program also has three elite status levels with additional benefits. Here are the details:
|Qualifications||Free to join, open to the public.||Six qualifying rentals.||12 qualifying rentals or 40 days.||24 qualifying rentals or 85 days.|
|Point accrual bonus||10%.||15%.||20%.|
|Free car upgrades||One per year.||Two per year.||Four per year.|
While the elite status benefits are limited, regular renting from Enterprise can be a good way to earn points toward free rentals.
The Hertz loyalty program is called Hertz Gold Plus Rewards. Like Enterprise's and Avis' programs, it’s free to join. You’ll enjoy designated aisles where you can choose any car at some Hertz locations. You can earn Gold Plus Rewards points on all qualifying rentals and optional charges like satellite radio or car seats (you earn 1 point per dollar spent). You can redeem your points for free rentals, and members can also transfer points to their spouses or domestic partners.
Here’s a detailed breakdown of how to qualify and the benefits you’ll receive:
|Gold||Five Star||President's Circle|
|Qualifications||Free to join, open to the public.||10 rentals or $2,000.||15 rentals or $3,000.|
|Point accrual bonus||25%.||50%.|
|Ultimate Choice aisle||Gold aisle.||Five Star aisle.||President's Circle aisle.|
|No second driver fees||✓||✓||✓|
|Tier benefit experience||Five Star for a day.||President's Circle for a day.|
As with Avis, Hertz provides elite status for some frequent flyers. If you're a Delta Diamond or Platinum Medallion, you can enjoy complimentary President’s Circle status, while Gold Medallion members receive complimentary Five Star status. All SkyMiles Medallion members are also eligible for bonus miles when renting with Hertz — with details provided on Delta's website.
If you’re a Medallion, you can link your accounts and begin enjoying complimentary elite status with Hertz.
National partners with Enterprise through its Drive Alliance program, but it also has its own loyalty program: Emerald Club.
As with the other programs, the base level is free to join and allows you to skip the counter, selecting any car on the Emerald Aisle when you rent a midsize or above car. The National Emerald Aisle is one of the best ways to get on the road faster.
The program also has two different elite status tiers. These are some of the key benefits of National Emerald Club status:
|Emerald Club||Executive||Executive Elite|
|Qualifications||Free to join, open to the public.||12 paid rentals or 40 rental days in a calendar year.||25 paid rentals or 85 rental days in a calendar year.|
|Free day accrual rate||One free day every seven credits.||One free day every six credits.||One free day every five credits.|
|Select any car on the Emerald Aisle when you reserve a midsize or higher car||✓||Executive aisle.||Executive aisle.|
|No second driver fees||✓||✓||✓|
|Guaranteed upgrades when you reserve a full-size through a luxury car||✓||✓|
|Guaranteed vehicle||Up to full size with 24-hour notice.|
National also has an invite-only VIP tier.
The German rental car company Sixt has grown significantly in the U.S. since entering the market in 2011. The Sixt loyalty program offers many of the same benefits listed above, including the ability to skip the lines and collect points or miles for your rental. Sixt's program also has three elite status tiers (one by invitation only). Here are the details of each:
|Qualifications||Three rentals.||10 rentals.||By invitation only.|
|Discount||Up to 10%.||Up to 15%.||Up to 20%.|
|No second driver fees in the U.S.||✓||✓||✓|
Earning elite status with credit cards
In addition to the partnerships and methods for earning elite status listed above, it’s possible to score rental car elite status just by holding a card. Here are some of the best options for travelers:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express ($695 annual fee; see rates and fees) and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express ($695 annual fee; see rates and fees) offer complimentary elite status with Avis, National and Hertz (enrollment required).
- The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers elite status with National and Avis.
- The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card offers Hertz President’s Circle status*.
- The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® offers National Emerald Club Executive status.
In addition, FoundersCard members receive free Avis Preferred Plus status.
Remember, many credit cards offer primary rental car insurance coverage, including the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the United Explorer Card. Many credit cards offer bonus points for rental car purchases, and you can also use online shopping portals like Rakuten to earn even more points with many of the above-mentioned rental car companies.
* Upon enrollment, accessible through the Capital One website or mobile app, eligible cardholders will remain at upgraded status level through Dec. 31, 2024. Please note that enrolling through the normal Hertz Gold Plus Rewards enrollment process (e.g., at hertz.com) will not automatically detect a cardholder as being eligible for the program, and cardholders will not be automatically upgraded to the applicable status tier. Additional terms apply.
Using a status match
Another way to snag rental car elite status is by matching your status from another program. Previous status match posts have focused mainly on airline and hotel status matches. Still, many rental car companies will allow you to surpass the qualification requirements if you hold status with a competitor. Hertz even has a dedicated page for submitting these requests.
The idea is simple. If you earn status in one program (or get it automatically through a credit card), a status match allows you to get a similar elite tier with other programs.
While these results are self-reported, you can also check StatusMatcher's rental car status match page to get an idea of how you might be able to snag rental car status.
Renting a car isn’t nearly as glamorous as flying around the world or staying in a luxury hotel, but it can nevertheless be rewarding by holding elite status.
And with continued long lines at many rental counters, elite status can not only help ensure your reservation is honored but allow you to head straight to your assigned vehicle at many airports.
If your credit card (or airline loyalty program) includes automatic elite status with one or more rental car agencies, be sure to sign up. Doing so can help you skip the line and ensure you actually receive a vehicle upon arrival.
Additional reporting by Ryan Smith, Joseph Hostetler and Kyle Olsen.