Compared to airline and hotel status, car rental status often takes the backseat when discussing travel elite status. But for those that rent cars frequently, having car rental status at one of the major car rental companies can be super beneficial. Depending on your status, you can score discounts, car upgrades, and bonus points on paid rentals.
Unfortunately, earning car rental status organically can be hard. You often need to rent cars super frequently, making it tough for casual travelers to earn status with a limited number of rentals. Thankfully though, there’s an easier way: earning rental car elite status with credit cards.
Nowadays, some premium travel credit cards offer rental car elite status, discounts, and even rental car insurance for cardholders. In this article, you’ll find detailed information on rental status and discounts.
Best American Express Credit Cards for Car Rental Status
There’s one American Express card that stands above the rest for rental car benefits: the Amex Platinum Card.
American Express’ famous Platinum Card comes with (a lot of) benefits that include an array of awesome car rental status benefits and discounts. This card offers benefits at 3 different legacy car rental companies:
National Emerald Club Executive Status
Like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Amex Platinum Card includes National Emerald Club Executive status. The benefits are the same as outlined above, so please refer to the above section.
Avis Preferred American Express Benefits
- Complimentary One-Car Class Upgrade —use coupon code #UUNA007 when making a reservation to receive a one-class upgrade when available. Unfortunately, this is not a guaranteed benefit
- 25% Off Base Rates — book directly with Avis and use Avis Worldwide Discount (AWD) code #756900 for the discount
While the Amex Platinum Card doesn’t come with full-fledged Avis status, the perks it does offer are nice to have when you need to rent from Avis. The complimentary class upgrade can make the difference between a normal car rental and an exceptional one, so definitely take advantage of it!
Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Benefits
- 20% Off Standard Rates — make sure to use the code 633306 to take advantage of this discount and the following benefits
- 25% Off Premier Rentals when a Saturday Night is Included — available for U.S., Canada, and European Hertz Premier rentals
- 4-Hour Grace No-Charge Period — you can return a rental up to 4 hours late with no penalty in most countries, and 2 hours in select countries like China and UAE
- One-Car Class Upgrade – this benefit is based on availability, so it is not guaranteed and doesn’t apply to Premier rentals, but is helpful to have
So while you don’t get full Hertz status, you do get many of the perks like car class upgrades, a 4 hour grace period, and even a nice discount. Use the discount code 633306 when renting directly through Hertz to take advantage of these benefits.
Best Chase Credit Cards for Car Rental Status
Chase offers 2 cards with free rental car status: the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and the United Club℠ Card. Each of card has a different set of rental car partners and benefits.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with National status and discounts at 2 other rental services: Avis and Silvercar. Here’s what you can expect from National, Avis, and Silvercar by having the Chase Sapphire Reserve card.
National Emerald Club Executive Status
National Emerald Club Executive status is super valuable because of the huge array of benefits:
- Executive Area Access — choose any car (full-size and above) and only pay the mid-size rate
- Guaranteed Upgrades — you’re guaranteed upgrades on mid-sized vehicle rentals in the U.S. and Canada
- No Second Driver Fees — add a second driver for free
- Upgrades in Europe — free one-class upgrades at participating National locations in U.K., Ireland, France, Spain, and Germany
- Special Pricing on Premier Selection Cars — special pricing on upgrades to the Premier Selection cars at the rental lot
- Faster Free Rentals — earn a free rental credit after 6 car rentals
The key benefit here is Executive area access. When you rent a midsize car, you can choose any car from the Enterprise Executive lot, all of which are full-sized or above vehicles. This will save you money on upgrades, and can be especially useful if you need to rent a minivan or SUV to haul equipment or transport others.
Further, no second driver fees can also save you money on trips where more than 1 person is driving the car. Just make sure to have the second driver’s name added when you pick up the car at the lot.
Lastly, Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders get up to 25% off all National bookings by using the code 5030849. Note that you must book directly with National and use this promo code at the time of booking to be eligible for the discount.
Avis Preferred Discount
Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders are eligible for up to 30% off Avis rentals when using the code S107100 at booking. Note that you must also be an Avis Preferred member to take advantage of this discount—enrollment is free and can be done on Avis’ website.
Silvercar is a startup rental car company owned by Audi. You can pick from a selection of Audi vehicles when renting from Silvercar—its fleet includes the Audi A4 sedan, Audi A5 convertible, and Audi Q5 and Q7 SUVs. Rentals can be a bit pricier than traditional rental car companies, but your Chase Sapphire Reserve is here to help.
Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders can use the promo code “VISAINF20” at checkout for 20% off any Silvercar rental. Just make sure to check out using your Chase Sapphire Reserve to get the discount. Plus, make sure to enroll in Silvercar Premium Rewards to earn points towards free rentals too!
Hot Tip:Not only does the Chase Sapphire Reserve also comes with these rental car benefits, the card also comes with rental car insurance and rental car benefits.
The United Club card has 1 car rental partner: Hertz. All United Club cardholders get complimentary top-tier Hertz status, which comes with these benefits:
- Guaranteed Upgrades — you will get a one-class upgrade on car rentals at all participating locations
- Choose Your Car in the Hertz President’s Circle Lot — you can pick your own car from the President’s Circle lot
- 50% Points Earning Bonus — earn 1.5 points per dollar spent on Hertz car rentals
- 4 months CLEAR Airport trial — try CLEAR expedited airport security free for 4 months (new CLEAR members only)
- Hertz Valet — get picked up from or driven to the airport terminal free of charge (limited to 4 times per year)
- Free Second Driver — add a second driver to your reservation for free
This status is similar to the National status outlined earlier, so likewise, our favorite perk is guaranteed upgrades and the ability to pick your own car from the Hertz President’s Circle Ultimate Choice lot. Pick the car that sticks out to you the most, and you’ll undoubtedly have a more fun and enjoyable trip.
Other important benefits include a 50% points earning bonus and access to Hertz Valet. The points earning bonus will get you closer to your next rental, and 4 free Hertz Valet pickups/drop-offs will make your next airport rental smoother and stress-free.
Hot Tip: United frequent flyers holding Premier Platinum and Premier 1K status, along with United℠ Presidential Plus℠ cardholders also receive complimentary Hertz President’s Circle status. Additionally, Delta frequent flyers holding Platinum or Diamond status, are also eligible for a free President’s Circle status.
Best Citi Credit Cards for Car Rental Status
Hot Tip: At this time, the Citi Prestige card is no longer available for new applicants.
Unlike the other cards on this list, the Citi Prestige card is a World Elite Mastercard, so it’s eligible to enroll in Mastercard Travel & Lifestyle Services. This program has elite status benefits with 3 different car rental companies: Avis, National, and Sixt. Here’s a look at what benefits you get at each of these companies.
Note that in order to enroll in these benefits, you must register your card on Mastercard’s Travel & Lifestyle benefits website. Once registered, you can find instructions on how to enroll in each of the following rental car statuses on the Offers Page.
Avis Preferred Plus Status
- Complimentary Upgrades — these aren’t guaranteed, but you’ll receive a car class upgrade whenever available
- Earn 25% More Points on Rentals — earn 1.25 points per dollar on rentals and 2.5 points per dollar on accessories
- Priority Customer Support — gain access a Special Avis Preferred Plus phone number for reservations and customer support
- Exclusive Monthly Email Offers — exclusive discounts and offers are sent to your inbox monthly
Avis’ elite status benefits aren’t as plentiful as National, but having access to upgrades and earning more points is always welcome. Plus, you’ll get up to 25% off your Avis rentals when you book through the offers page on the MasterCard Travel & Lifestyles page, something that can be super valuable on long rentals.
National Emerald Club Executive Status
Another benefit of the Citi Prestige Card is a complimentary upgrade to National Emerald Club Executive Status. These benefits are exactly the same as what’s included with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, so please refer to that section for more info.
Sixt Platinum Status
- Savings of Up to 15% on Sixt Rentals — you’ll save 15% on all rentals made through the MasterCard portal
- A Complimentary Upgrade to the Next Highest Car Group — when available, you’ll receive an upgrade to the next highest class of vehicle
- Preferred Reservation Priority — receive priority on last-minute rentals booked under 24 hours from the time you’d like to pick up the car
- Access to Special Sixt Platinum Counters/Parking Lots — skip the general line and use Platinum lines when you pick up and drop off your rental car at select locations
World Elite Mastercards are the only credit cards that qualify for Sixt Platinum status, so if you rent from the company frequently, this may be another great reason to apply for a Citi Prestige. These benefits not only save you money on Sixt rentals, but will give you a far more luxurious experience with upgrades and pick up priority.
If you’re interested in the Citi Prestige Card, you may be interested to see how this card stacks up. Explore our comparison of the Citi Prestige Card and the Amex Platinum Card.
Best Business Credit Cards for Car Rental Status
The only business travel credit card that currently offers rental car status is the Business Platinum. It includes the same car rental benefits as the personal Amex Platinum outlined above, making it a solid option for business owners that frequently rent cars at Avis, Hertz, and National.
Having rental car status can make a real difference when renting a car for fun or business. From being able to pick your own car to bonus points and discounts, status can make a real difference in both how you experience a car rental and how you pay for it.
When choosing a credit card for rental car status, exam your rental car habits and the other benefits included with the credit card. Pick a card that gives you rental car benefits you need while still offering other valuable travel benefits like airport lounge access and high points earning rates.
Thanks for reading, and drive safe!