Reader Advice Requested: Rental Cars and Mileage Accrual

It’s that “once an every couple of years” event for me again – I need to rent a car on an upcoming trip. My travels mostly take me to cities with incredible public transportation, or to where I don’t really need anything other than the hotel shuttle. But my upcoming trip to Chicago requires a car for multiple reasons. And I’m hoping for your help as I don’t follow rental car promotions and deals as closely as I should.

Part of my problem is that I don’t have elite status with any rental agency (eek!). I missed out on the recent MilePoint Premium subscription offer that would have given me National Car Rental Emerald Club Executive status. That’s my fault as I didn’t jump on the offer fast enough before it went away.

But my other problem is where exactly do I get the most airline miles for my rental? As with many competitive travel items, the cash rates are virtually the same across agencies. So I’m now searching for which one will benefit me the most in terms of cash outlay and mileage accrual.

This recent Hertz offer from United’s MileagePlus recently arrived in my email:

I’m leaning towards it for two reasons. First, I’m a Premier 1K and the 150-mile bonus for booking on United.com is appealing. Second, this particular promotion (valid through November 15) offers a 35% discount on rates. Searching regular availability with Hertz (and others), I find that to be true.

I should mention that my trip is in October and I’ll need a car for two weekend days. If this offer from Budget didn’t expire at the end of September with American, I might have considered it:

The only airlines I’m interested in accruing miles with are American and United. Are there any hard-core renters out there with advice?

Comments

  1. I’d expect new rental promotions to come out in the next week or two as many expire 8/31. I’d book a rental now to to lock in a price just in case, but definitely wait another few weeks to re-check prices and re-book (no penalty) once the mileage offers roll out…

  2. The free Executive status deal with National for customers of Signature Flight Support is still up. I’m not sure if it’s working (the images won’t load for me) but the page is active. You should try signing up as a new member and see if it gives you automatic Executive status.
    https://www.nationalcar.com/index.do?action=/hotDealsTemplate&msg=national-signature-partnership

    I also recall that free Hertz #1 Gold is a benefit of 1K status with United. If you have a United Club credit card, you’ll get free Avis Presidents Club status.

  3. With an Amex Platinum card, you also get status with Hertz and Avis…

    I generally find that those companies are so much more expensive than what I can find with a company like Advantage, or Fox, or Payless, I don’t find the miles to be worth it. I have a two week rental coming up and found a weekly rate of $99 with Advantage, but sometimes you need to dig for some discount codes.

    • @New Girl in the Air: Great suggestion.
      @Scottrick: Thanks, definitely will check out the Hertz thing with 1K status
      @Cory: Yeah, the miles aren’t huge for renting a car. Thanks for the AMEX tip.
      @Gene: Hmm, didn’t know there was an extra tax for that.
      @Kevin: I’ll check out Priceline and such, but the obsessive mileage-earner in me probably will go full retail. If the price difference is huge, though, I might give it a go.

  4. If you credit miles to a US airline you are charged a tax. I forget th exact amiunt, but I think it is 1 or 2 dollars. For this reason, I rarely credit to a US airline. If there are no big bonuses being offered, I credit to LH or VS.

  5. Alternatively, you could book w/ priceline and bargain for a sweet deal for a car. When I travel for business, I always rent with National. However, if I’m traveling for pleasure, I usually priceline it. I don’t care too much about the car, and I’m more concerned about the price. You can get some GREAT deals if you name your own price!

  6. I just learned about renting downtown and returning to the airport for free…most of the major companies will let you do it. I’m using Avis next week and I know it will save me many taxi rides in the future!

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