Credit Card Perks for Car Rentals
Certain cards can boost your status in a rental company’s loyalty program and give you an edge.
If you plan to rent a car this summer, be ready to contend with low inventory and high prices. After cutting back on vehicles during the pandemic, rental companies are facing a dearth of new cars to buy to replenish their fleets following auto-plant shutdowns last year and a semiconductor shortage that is now slowing production, says Jonathan Weinberg of AutoSlash, a site that searches for car-rental discounts.
Book early to snag a reservation at a reasonable price. But there’s a chance that when you arrive at the rental center, fewer cars will be on the lot than customers in line to rent them. At large rental centers at airports, line wait times can be two hours or more, says Weinberg.
Being a member of the company’s loyalty program—even if you have the lowest-tier status—may give you an edge. “They’re more likely to hold a car for you,” says Nick Ewen, of travel website The Points Guy. In some cases, program members get to skip the rental counter and go straight to the vehicle.
Subscribe to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance
Be a smarter, better informed investor.
Sign up for Kiplinger’s Free E-Newsletters
Profit and prosper with the best of expert advice on investing, taxes, retirement, personal finance and more - straight to your e-mail.
Profit and prosper with the best of expert advice - straight to your e-mail.
The potential advantages increase if you have higher-level status in a loyalty program, and certain cards can give you the boost. Chase Sapphire Reserve and American Express Platinum ($550 annual fee for each card) offer a complimentary Emerald Club Executive membership with National Car Rental and Preferred Plus status with Avis. (Both cards are finalists in our list of the best rewards credit cards. Check for special discounts, too; holders of the Chase card, for example, get up to 30% off Avis rentals and up to 25% off with National. Amex Platinum also provides a Hertz Gold Plus membership and some additional perks for cardholders, including discounts on Hertz rentals, a four-hour grace period on returns and upgrades to the next-highest vehicle class.
Even if your credit card doesn’t offer this kind of perk, use it to book your car rentals. Some cards offer extra cash back or points on travel purchases, plus coverage that will pay the cost of a rental vehicle’s repair or theft.
Lisa has spent more than15 years with Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and heads up the magazine’s annual rankings of the best banks, best rewards credit cards, and financial-services firms with the best customer service. She reports on a variety of other topics, too, from retirement to health care to money concerns for millennials. She has shared her expertise as a guest on the Today Show, CNN, Fox, NPR, Cheddar and many other media outlets around the nation. Lisa graduated from Ball State University and received the school’s “Graduate of the Last Decade” award in 2014. A military spouse, she has moved around the U.S. and currently lives in the Philadelphia area with her husband and two sons.
Stock Market Today: Small-Cap Stocks Lead in Low-Volume Session
While the major indexes made modest moves, small caps soared.
By Karee Venema • Published
What Lawyers Often Fail to Tell Clients About Litigation
A client learns the hard way that litigation takes time and can get expensive, especially if the lawyer is piling on unethical fees and vague ‘costs.’
By H. Dennis Beaver, Esq. • Published
Frequent Flyer Tax Could Raise Billions for Climate
Could taxing frequent flyers help combat global pollution? Some climate scientists say yes.
By Kelley R. Taylor • Published
The Best Places to Visit Where the Dollar is Strong
From the Americas and Europe to Africa and Asia, we list the 10 best places to travel to where the U.S. dollar is the strongest.
By Quincy Williamson • Published
Best Cash Back Credit Cards June 2023
Smart Buying Looking for the credit card that pays the most cash back? These lenders may pay hundreds of dollars, with minimum hassle.
By Lisa Gerstner • Last updated
I-Bond Rate Is 4.30% for Next Six Months
Investing for Income Bonds issued May 1 to October 31 will have a rate of 4.30%.
By David Muhlbaum • Last updated
What Are I-Bonds?
savings bonds Inflation has made Series I savings bonds enormously popular with risk-averse investors. So how do they work?
By Lisa Gerstner • Last updated
Your Guide to Open Enrollment 2023
Employee Benefits Health care costs continue to climb, but subsidies will make some plans more affordable.
By Rivan V. Stinson • Published
How to Make The Most of a Travel Insurance Claim
More travelers are buying insurance. If your trip is canceled, take these steps to increase your chances of recovery.
By Susan J. Wells • Last updated
Watch Out for Flood-Damaged Cars from Hurricane Ian
Buying & Leasing a Car In the wake of Hurricane Ian, more flood-damaged cars may hit the market. Car prices may rise further because of increased demand as well.
By Bob Niedt • Last updated