Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
& Kellie Jez
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Renting a car may not be as fun as taking a flight or enjoying a hotel stay, but it can be a necessary part of travel.
We’ve previously shown you some great websites to book a rental car, plus we’ve looked in-depth at rental companies like Hertz and Avis. Now in this post, we’ll take a deep dive into National Car Rental to see how to use the website and we’ll take a look at their loyalty program, Emerald Club.
National Car Rental has over 1,500 locations across the world including the U.S., Canada, Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia-Pacific, Africa, and Australia.
Using National to rent a car is a simple process, requiring only a few steps.
Whether or not you should purchase the insurance options offered by National Car Rental has a lot to do with what credit cards you have in your wallet.
A fantastic travel card with a huge welcome offer, good benefits, and perks for a moderate annual fee.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® card is one of the best travel rewards cards on the market. Its bonus categories include travel, dining, online grocery purchases, and streaming services, which gives you the opportunity to earn lots of bonus points on these purchases.
Additionally, it offers flexible point redemption options, no foreign transaction fees, and excellent travel insurance coverage including primary car rental insurance. With benefits like these, it’s easy to see why this card is an excellent choice for any traveler.
For more options, check out our guide to credit cards that cover car rental insurance.
Hot Tip: If you drop off your rental at a location that’s different than the pickup location, you may be charged a drop charge or inter-city fee. This fee varies based on location and time of year and will be disclosed when you book online.
Emerald Club is the loyalty program of National Car Rental. Within Emerald Club, there are 3 separate status levels you can earn that offer benefits including free rental days, guaranteed upgrades, and guaranteed vehicles.
Emerald Club offers some services to every member, regardless of status level.
Hot Tip: Did you know that you can sometimes get an elite status match from another car rental company?
Emerald Club’s lowest level of status is simply called Emerald Club. With this status, you’ll earn 1 rental credit for each qualified rental. Once you’ve earned 7 rental credits, you’ll be eligible for a free rental day.
Emerald Club level members receive all of the Emerald Club Services listed above plus these benefits:
You’ll be upgraded to Emerald Club Executive status once you have completed 12 paid rentals or 40 paid rental days in a calendar year.
You’ll earn 1 rental credit for each qualifying rental and free rental days only cost 6 rental credits.
With this mid-tier status, you’ll enjoy all of the Emerald Club services, benefits offered at the Emerald Club level, plus these additional perks:
Hot Tip: You can get Emerald Club Executive Status just by having the right credit card in your wallet. The Chase Sapphire Reserve®, The Platinum Card® from American Express, and the Citi Prestige® Card all come with complimentary Executive Status with National Car Rental.
To earn Emerald Club Executive Elite status you’ll need to have 25 paid rentals or 85 paid rental days in a calendar year.
You’ll earn 1 rental credit for each qualifying rental and free rental days only cost 5 rental credits for any car class (except trucks and exotics) with no blackout dates.
Executive Elite status includes all of the benefits offered at the lower status levels plus the following:
National Car Rental will match your elite status from more than 40 car rental, hotel or airline programs upon request. Once your status match is approved it’s valid until February 28 of the second calendar year after approval.
In order to maintain your matched status, you’ll need to meet the standard qualification requirements.
Hot Tip: Want to share your free days with family members? You can transfer up to 3 free rental days per year to your spouse or an immediate family member that has the same address.
If you would prefer not to earn car rental credits, you can opt to earn airline or hotel points instead. This is especially handy for anyone who doesn’t rent cars often and wouldn’t be able to earn enough for a free car rental.
The only downside to this is that National charges a “Frequent Traveler Recovery Fee” of $0.75-$1.00 per day when you choose to earn select airline or hotel points instead of National car rental credits.
Here’s what you can expect to earn with each of National’s 14 airline partners:
Here’s what you can expect to earn with National’s 3 hotel partners:
National Rental Car has 2 more partners that you can choose to earn points with.
Hot Tip: Don’t forget to use a travel rewards credit card that earns bonus points when renting a car. The Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve card, and Citi Premier® Card all earn 3x points on travel purchases (including car rentals).
National Car Rental offers a mobile app that you can use to manage your rentals, your Emerald Club membership, and offers access to features like Emerald Checkout.
With Emerald Checkout, you’ll be able to use your mobile phone to choose a vehicle at Emerald Aisle locations in the U.S. and Canada, confirm your rental details, and speed through checkout with a “Virtual Pass” barcode.
You’ll also be able to use the app to keep track of your Emerald Club status, watch your progress towards the next elite level, and keep track of your credits towards free rental days.
Hot Tip: If you’re planning on using a toll road, be sure you know how much you’ll be charged. Refer to our guide on rental car tolls in the U.S. for more information.
Let’s take a look at how National’s prices stack up to other car rental agencies.
For these examples, we priced out week-long rentals for different types of cars across the country.
Here is how the prices unfolded:
|Type of car||Avis||Budget||Dollar||Enterprise||National|
As you can see, car rental prices are all over the map. While National was the most expensive by far in the first 2 searches, it nearly matched the lowest price in the last search (the difference was only $0.03!).
Hot Tip: If you aren’t particular about where you rent from, you may want to use a metasearch site like Kayak to easily look for the best prices on lots of websites at once. For more tips, check out our guide to saving money on car rentals.
National Car Rental is an easy to use site to find a rental car. They even offer their own loyalty program called Emerald Club that allows you to earn rental credits to apply towards free car rentals as well as perks like upgrades and expedited service.
While National’s prices can be competitive, it’s always best to do a little price comparison before you rent to ensure you’re getting the best deal.
The information for the Citi Prestige® Card has been collected independently by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
No, Enterprise Rent-A-Car isn’t part of National Car Rental. They are, however, owned by the same company, Enterprise Holdings, who also owns Alamo.
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