When does it make sense to rent a car with their rewards program status

I need to rent a car in a few weeks. I have CapOne Venture X, which gives complimentary President’s Circle status with Hertz, which means I could get status match at a few other rental co’s. I also have Costco, and in my experience CostcoTravel has the best rates for car rentals. The best price I found is with Alamo, whose program doesn’t have status and is worthless when booking through Costco.

I rarely rent cars, so any reward points are worthless to me. What are the reasons for booking cars with status if it costs more? The only reason I could think of is when I need like a Full Size SUV, then I could probably reserve a Midsize SUV instead, then hope for a “guaranteed upgrade” that some of the programs provide with the highest status tier. And I’m not sure that’s how it works. Are there any other reasons?

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If it costs more than like 5 bucks total, there is no reason to book with the company that gives you status.

I’ve found the major benefit of rental car status to be the vehicle you get. It is generally nicer regardless of whether or not you get an official upgrade. You are much less likely to get a beater car and more likely to get a newer car, regardless of car class. You also tend get more choice - large locations will direct you to an elite section where you get to choose your car amongst whatever is parked there. National does this and I like it a lot; there is usually a good variety of cars in the Executive Aisle to choose from.

Some recent examples for me - Avis in Cairns upgraded us from an intermediate to a BMW X3. Hertz upgraded us from an intermediate to a Mustang on Hawaii last year because they had a glut of them. On the other hand, Avis gave me a beater car with 62k miles on it this past May - but it was a one way rental going from the US to Canada so I sort of expected to get the worst car on the lot.

Like you said though, all three major companies status match with each other - Avis/Hertz/National… and if you have the AMEX Platinum, I believe you get status in all three programs.

In my experience, National is the best to rent from, either as an elite or a regular Joe. Their cars are consistently good, the locations are well run, no billing issues, and the entire experience is no hassle. Avis and Hertz are noticeable steps down in terms of consistency.


I can’t justify the $695 AF on that, but looking at it out of curiosity. Amex website says “Members are required to provide a code when booking a car rental to receive benefits such as free upgrades and discounts.” Does that mean I can’t book through Costco, or is it not enforced?

The status is nice, and they do upgrade you, but the proper benchmark should be other full service car companies like Hertz or Avis.

Invariably, you’ll pay more to rent there to use your status then you will renting from a cheaper company.


I just had to change my reservation and the cheapest car is now through Avis. Maybe I should sign up and get status now…

You don’t need to book with the AMEX CDP/AWD/Contract ID. They’re just referring to coupons that are available to AMEX Plat holders for free upgrades and discounts, which require the corresponding contract ID.

AMEX Plat makes sense for us, anyway. It’s definitely a coupon book, but we’re able to redeem quite a few of those coupons. The $240 in streaming credits is an easy one. There is an item or two that we regularly buy which has a price floor… and Sak’s sells it, so we can use the $100 credit there. I value the airline fee reimbursement for us at about $100. We easily use the $200 FHR credit every year to Vegas. There’s a Centurion lounge in SEA and I value that at about $75-ish. So on top of the other credits (Uber, CLEAR, and Walmart+), it makes sense for us.


One thing that I forgot that’s worth mentioning - Alamo and National share lots and fleets at most locations. Renting from either company will usually result in you going out to the same lot and being told to pick whatever car you want from the rented class you selected. So there will be aisles labeled “Compact”, “Full Size”, etc - and you just pick whatever car you want out of that section.

Unless it is a small airport, it is unlikely that National or Alamo will assign you a car at the counter. It’s almost always your choice of vehicle in the lot from the rental class you selected.

If you rent from National, however, and you are a member of their Emerald Club or have Executive status, you get the additional option of choosing a car from the Emerald Aisle or Executive Aisle, respectively. These tend to be newer SUVs with or very nice sedans that feature things like (p)leather seats, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, etc.

So in your case, Alamo == National, unless you have National status and want a car off the emerald/executive aisle. That’s literally the only advantage.


If you’ve got five minutes to spare, it wouldnt’ hurt to try autoslash. Only once was their lowest rate not Costco, but it doesn’t hurt to give it a shot.

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It would hurt a little, since it’s asking for my name and email address, and I’m very secretive :slight_smile:

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Well, we know that you can create an email address. I suspect that you can also accidentally use the wrong home row on your keyboard when you give your name. :upside_down_face:

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Keeping track of all my forwarders is not free :laughing: :roll_eyes:

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Have you tried Proton’s SimpleLogin stuff? It has been (somewhat clumsily) integrated into ProtonPass, their new password manager.

I haven’t. Interesting concept. The free account is capped at 10 forwarders, though I suppose if someone wanted to abuse it they could sign up for a bunch of accounts. I use my own hosting for email and have hundreds of forwarders. I don’t see how this would make it any simpler.

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I hope SimpleLogin succeeds. Sadly, I suspect it will be too much work for the masses, where “work = thought and any effort”

For me it isn’t economically feasible, or more convenient. I have domains for which I must pay hosting fees, so why not utilize aliases at the host? Also, I would still need to keep track of my aliases.
One thing that I used to love that SimpleLogin offers is a catch-all email.

iPhones iCloud+ has something like this built into it. An unlimited number of forwarders.

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Neat. The downside is it requires an Apple device :laughing:.

But again, not much easier than rolling my own.

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