Coronavirus (COVID-19): Rental Car Elite Status Extensions, Changes, and Updates

Girl by rental car in the desert
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Just like every other section of the travel industry, rental car companies were hit hard by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

At the start of the pandemic, we saw airport parking lots overflowing with rental cars and no travelers to rent them. Then the sell-offs started, with rental car companies selling off their fleets to stay afloat. But when travel rebounded, there were no cars to rent and prices skyrocketed.

Just like hotels and airlines, car rental companies extended elite statuses to make sure that their loyal customers returned when it was safe to. These elite statuses proved extremely valuable for anyone trying to get a rental car, as they often come with some very valuable perks.

However, as always, some companies are doing it better than others. Take a look at the rundown of what the major car rental companies are doing for their elite members.

Rental Car Company Responses Overview

In normal circumstances, rental car companies have very flexible cancellation policies. It should come as no surprise that these same companies have been quite accommodating with their COVID-19 responses.

Although the rental car companies as a whole were a little late to the game by extending elite statuses, most offered something for their loyal customers.

Rental Car Company Benefits Chart

Company Extending Points or Certificates? Extending Elite Status?
Alamo N/A N/A
Avis Yes Yes
Budget No N/A
Dollar No N/A
Enterprise No Yes
Fox No N/A
Hertz Yes Yes
National Points never expire Yes
Silvercar Points never expire N/A
Sixt No No
Thrifty No No

Individual Rental Car Company Responses (Elite Status Requirements)

Alamo

Alamo does not have a typical loyalty program. There are no points to be earned or status to achieve.

Members of Alamo Insiders receive a flat 5% discount on all rentals. There has been no change to this program.

Avis

Avis key car rental agreement
Image Credit: Avis

Elite members of Avis Preferred will have their status automatically extended through January 15, 2022, regardless of 2020 rental activity.

Budget

Budget does not award points and elite status to its Budget Fastbreak members — instead, members can earn $25 Budget Bucks every 2 rentals. Normally Budget Bucks expire after 12 months and those have not been extended.

Dollar

Dollar has not made any statement regarding its Dollar Express Rewards Program. There are no elite statuses to extend, however, points do expire every 24 months if there is no rental activity.

Enterprise

Enterprise Plus elite members originally received an automatic 1-year status extension which has been further extended through February 28, 2023.

If you qualified for elite status in 2020, any extra rentals were rolled over towards your 2021 qualifications. If you rented but did not qualify for elite status in 2020, all of your rentals were rolled over to 2021.

Any Emerald Club Program Free Days, that were due to expire on December 31, 2021, will now expire on December 31, 2022.

Fox

Fox does not offer elite tiers, but it does, however, award points on qualifying rentals. There has been no statement about the expiration of Fox Rewards points, FoxBucks, or SuperCertificates.

Hertz

Hertz Presidents Circle Chrysler 300 at IAH Houston Airport
Presidents Circle at IAH in Houston. Image Credit: Chris Hassan

Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Five Star and President’s Circle elite members will have their statuses extended through January 31, 2022, and points will not expire until December 31, 2021. 

Additionally, elite status requirements were lowered for 2021. The new requirements are:

  • Five Star: 10 rentals or $2,000 spent
  • President’s Circle: 15 rentals or $3,000 spent

National

Emerald Club Executive and Executive Elite members whose tiers were set to expire on February 28, 2021, originally received a 1-year extension. That has been further extended and members can keep their status through February 28, 2023.

Additionally, qualifying rentals and rental days will roll over. That means if members achieved elite status in 2020, any paid rentals or paid rental days they had beyond their tier qualification were rolled to 2021 to give them a head start on earning toward elite status for 2022.

As always, National Emerald Club points never expire, and free rental days have been extended until December 31, 2022.

Silvercar

The Silvercar reward program does not have elite tiers, so extensions are not an issue. And as always, its points never expire.

As of December 2020 and as a result of COVID-19’s effect on business, Silvercar’s airport locations have closed and transitioned their business to local Audi dealerships, though you can continue to rent cars in city centers like downtown Miami, New York City (Brooklyn and Manhattan), and San Francisco.

SIXT

SIXT has not made any announcement regarding its SIXT Advantage Circle rewards program. The program does not offer points that would expire, however, there are tier levels to maintain.

Thrifty

Thrifty has not made a statement regarding the extension of expiring Thrifty Blue Chip reward points. They normally expire after 24 months of account inactivity.

Final Thoughts

The rental car industry, as a whole, was late to the game when it came to addressing elite statuses, with National being the first of the group to extend benefits.

That being said, the major rental car companies have stepped up and extended elite statuses and points when necessary.

Now that travel has come back, the biggest challenge is finding a good rental car rate. If you previously had elite status, you will likely still have it, which will come in handy when it comes to upgrades.

This information will be changing often and we will update this post accordingly, so be sure to bookmark this page and check back frequently!

If you’re interested in seeing what extensions other industries are doing, explore our COVID-19 airline status extension and hotel status extension guides.


Frequently asked questions

Are car rental companies extending elite status?

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many car rental companies are extending elite status and points. If you had elite status for 2020, it is likely that you will automatically have status through 2021. Check the chart in this article to find out what your favorite car rental company is offering.

Are car rental companies extending rewards points?

Due to COVID-19, many car rental companies are extending rewards points and free day certificates. Most points expire after there has been no account activity for 18 to 36 months, so be sure to check with your company. Check the chart in this article to find out what your favorite car rental company is offering.

Is it safe to rent a car during COVID-19?

Many car rental companies have improved their cleaning and sanitation protocols due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Hertz and other companies are placing seals on the doors of cars so that renters know that it has been properly sanitized and no other renters have been in the car since.

However, it is always good to bring your own sanitizing wipes and give the touchpoints a once-over.

Does Silvercar still have airport locations?

No, as of December 2020, all rental locations have been moved to local Audi dealerships. There are still rental locations available in select downtown cities.

Chris Hassan

About Chris Hassan

Chris is from Boston and is currently living in Rio de Janeiro with his wife, two kids, and their dog, Shelby. When Chris was in college, he spent a semester abroad studying hotel and business management in Switzerland. That is where he caught the travel bug and met his wife. Quite a successful trip!

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5 comments

  1. So I didn’t realize my points expired on May 6, 2020 and after several emails to Hertz, they still refused to reinstate them. So therefore they are not extending expiring points.

    Reply

    • Hi Vivian,

      I’m sorry about your situation as I imagine it is very frustrating. Did you receive an email from Hertz in regards to this? They sent out an email to all elite members stating that if you had points set to expire between March 13 and June 30, 2020, you could request to extend them through the link received in your email.

      Did you contact them after your points had already expired? If so I imagine that might be the issue as the email stated you needed to ask for an extension prior to the points expiring.

      Reply

  2. Are you 100% sure that the information about Hertz is correct? I did receive the mail to extend the points last year. I have seen no other initiatives from them since then.
    My points will expire this coming April, they say point expiration is not suspended till the end of this year. Only status extensions have been provided.
    This was customer service in UK, there may be other rules for US customers?

    Reply

    • Hi Kris,

      Yes, the information in the article is correct for U.S.-based customers but I cannot say as to whether that is different for those in the U.K.
      If that is what the customer service representative told you then I would assume they are correct, but you could always call and speak to another agent just to double check.

      Reply

  3. My request into Avis was initially met with resistance to reinstate a significant number of points. However, persistence to elevate my request while on the phone with Avis Customer Service paid off…note Avis’ terms related to its points system. Ensure you cite these when you get to a person that can actually make this type of decision with Avis…Note the last point below.

    a. Expiration of Avis Preferred Points: Points are valid for sixty (60) months from when they were earned. In the event that the
    Avis Preferred member fails to exercise any redemption of earned points within such sixty (60) month period, the points are
    deemed forfeited and surrendered back to Avis and shall have no value to the Avis Preferred Member and will be removed from
    any of the Member’s accounts. Points earned by residents of the province of Ontario, Canada do not expire. However these points
    may be canceled due to inactivity.
    Cancellation for Inactivity: Avis Preferred Points earned or otherwise obtained by an Avis Preferred Member will be forfeited
    without notice if the Avis Preferred member becomes Inactive. An Avis Preferred Member is considered “Inactive” if during a
    12-month period: (a) the Avis Preferred Member has not completed an eligible rental at a participating Avis location; (b) the Avis
    Preferred Member has not earned or redeemed any Avis Preferred Points, or (c) the Avis Preferred Member’s account has been
    cancelled.
    b. Adjustments: Avis, in its sole discretion, may correct the amount of any member’s Avis Preferred Points.

    Reply

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