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Preparing for Summer Part 4 – earning Avios and other airline miles from car rentals

This is the fourth of my series of posts about – basically – earning Avios from your Summer holiday. Previous posts focussed on getting a discount on airport car parking, selecting the best credit card to use abroad and discussing whether Cash Passport cards were worth it.

For many of us, the only time in the whole year when we may find ourselves looking to hire a car is on holiday.

If you are spending your own money on car hire, you shouldn’t be blinded by the miles opportunities. There are plenty of low-cost consolidators like easyCar who are used by the big car hire groups to shift their spare capacity without having to publicly lower their prices.

However, if location is important (eg you want a supplier who is definitely in your airport rather than a long shuttle bus away) then you need to book direct. Direct booking also lets you book flexible rates, makes it easier to guarantees extras like baby seats and may even be cheaper, especially when factoring in the value of the miles. Always look at TopCashBack before booking a car, as pretty much everyone – big names and consolidators – offers rebates through them.

The best mileage rates

Avis is the official partner of BAEC, and even has its own website at avisba.com. The rate is 3 Avios per £1 spent, with a minimum of 500. BAEC members also get a free second driver, which can be a valuable benefit, and there are a further 250 Avios to be had if you pay with the BA Amex credit card. If you do four rentals in a year, you also get a further 750 Avios. Avis is the only official BA and avios.com car earning partner.

There are also earning options via Iberia Plus, with the opportunity to move your Iberia Avios to BAEC via ‘Combine My Avios’ subject to the usual conditions.

The Iberia earning structure is based on PER DAY earnings, which can make it more attractive than BAEC for rentals of two days or more. Iberia partners with Europcar, Enterprise, Hertz, Sixt and Avis. Avis earns 300 per day outside Spain, Europcar, Enterprise, Hertz and Avis offer 300+ per day based on car size. Standard rates with Sixt are 150-400 Avios per day with a maximum of four days.

As you can see, Iberia offers the only way to earn Avios from Hertz, Sixt, Enterprise or Europcar, and may be a better deal on Avis than BAEC for longer or relatively cheap rentals.

Other airmiles car rental options

Outside of Avios, pretty much every major airline has some sort of car rental tie-up. It is worth doing a quick scout around before each rental to see if there are any generous promotions available.

Virgin partners with Avis, Alamo, Hertz and Sixt (see here) – the Hertz deal is particularly attractive at 1,100 miles per rental, with Avis and Alamo offering 1,000 miles.

Miles & More also has a large list of partners (see here) – Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz and Sixt.

In all cases, be aware that you can usually separate out:

1. The discount code you are entitled to use as a member of that frequent flyer scheme, and

2. The miles you can earn as a member of that frequent flyer scheme

In theory, nothing stops you booking a car using (for eg) the Virgin Atlantic discount code for Avis and then crediting the stay to a BAEC account, should that prove to be the most attractive option.

Don’t forget hotel chain promotions

It is not only the airlines that offer bonus points for booking a car via their partners. The hotel loyalty programmes have also got in on the act. In general the points earned aren’t worth as much as the equivalent airline miles, but do check. Club Carlson, for example, is offering 9,000 points (which I value at £45) with a 3-day Avis rental – that is enough for a free night in their lowest category, or 1,000 airline miles in over 20 programmes.

Club Carlson – Avis, Alamo, National, Budget, Enterprise, Sixt

Hyatt Gold Passport – Avis

Marriott Rewards – Hertz

Hilton HHonors – Alamo, Avis, Budget, Europcar, National, Sixt, Thrifty

Starwood – Avis, Sixt

Priority Club – Avis, Budget

And don’t forget Hertz Gold Plus Rewards

Hertz also has its own reward programme, Hertz Gold Plus Rewards, which I will review fully at some point. The key thing to note now, though, is that you can usually earn points in Hertz Gold Plus Rewards even if the corporate rate or discount code you are using is not eligible for airline miles.

As well as the usual free rental days, Hertz points can also be redeemed for IHG Rewards Club and Marriott Rewards points, as well as miles with some North American airlines.

American Airlines and Marriott Rewards kiss and make up
Urgent: Tesco now giving 4,800 Avios / 5,000 Flying Club miles with Diablo III purchases!!
About Head for Points

We help business and leisure travellers maximise their Avios, airline miles and hotel points. Visit every day for three new articles or sign up for our emails via the box to your right.

Comments

  1. Not sure easy car is a consolidator I would use or recommend. Moneysupermarket.com is excellent as is carhire3000.
    Avisba is a site to check but on just one occasion in 3 years has the price here been better than Avis.co.uk and it has never beaten the consolidators.
    Surprisingly amex have come with some stunning deals in the last couple of years but these have been on domestic uk rentals.

  2. Also remember if you have Amex Plat then you get free #1 Club Gold status with Hertz and also the Amex CDP offers 4h extra rental for free – you pay for 24h but get 28h. I’ve found this pretty handy when flying in on a morning flight and out on an afternoon one as it saves you paying for a whole extra day of rental. In general I’ve also found the Plat CDP to be pretty competitively priced and you get rental car insurance cover included as well.

    • I do love the simplicity of #1 Club Gold – turn up, get in, drive off. It’s one of the real benefits of Amex Plat and brings business to Hertz from the cost conscious (OK, congenitally tight) who would otherwise use a consolidator to shave every penny. Yesterday I needed a 24 hr rental at Edinburgh – and intended to use Hertz as usual only to find their prices were bizarre, over £140 for a Class A for 1 day! Everyone else was around the £35 mark.

  3. Gordon says:

    I recently booked hertz on my amex gold and received 8x the spend. 2x base points and 6x bonus points. A total of 376 on a £47 spend.

  4. BlackberryAddict says:

    There’s currently a promotion on with Iberia Plus and Sixt which gives double avios on car rentals. You have to book through the Iberia Plus site on a special link. I used it last week, but haven’t received the Avios yet.

    • I tried one of the Iberia deals for Hertz a few months back, booking through the Iberia plus site. Extra avios didn’t post so emailed Iberia – “it’s Hertz;s responsibility, not us guv’”. Emailed Hertz “no extra due according to us” It was a fair price but I wouldn’t again rely on an Iberia deal.

  5. Do I get full insurance (CDW) with my AMEX PLAT so I can decline the insurance offered by the rental company?

    • Yes – you can decline all insurances given Amex Plat cover.

      • sandgrounder says:

        Anyone else should look in to an excess policy. Mine was 39.99 with 13 quidco back. A claim for 450 euro was settled in less than a week.

      • How can I do that? The options are pre ticked

        • When I set up my Hertz #1 account I said I didn’t want the insurances included. Even with the Plat CDP it does however sometimes include some basic ones – in which case I just decline everything that’s an extra. I’ve found that some rate codes, particularly when booked from the UK (or indeed when booking in the UK) seem to include insurance and removing it can actually increase the cost! I sometimes book via the US site, especially when booking for car hire in the States, and that can allow you to exclude them – however as I say the rate may sometimes be worse without the basic insurances included. Thankfully most Hertz rates appear to be flexible so I quite often end up rebooking things as better offers come out!

          • 715399 as Hertz CDP strips out all insurance, so good for Amex Plats. Not always the cheapest, though!

            Note that Amex Plat rate code has a 4-hour return window built in. This means you can pick up at 12noon Sat, return at 4pm Sunday and you only get charged for 1 day. Other rate codes charge that as 2 days. Can work very nicely.

            • LOL yep – see my post about it further upthread :P It doesn’t work in all countries though (and occasionally confuses hire car desk staff – I had one that tried to charge me an extra day in Uruguay, got it refunded in the end though!)

        • For example, just made a one-way rental booking with Hertz for later this year in the US (LAS -> LAX).

          Initial rates on Hertz.co.uk prior to logging in were £115.73 prepay for intermediate (ICAR), $194.40 for pay as collection. Using Plat CDP this dropped to £69.44 prepay ($166.64 on collection), I think mainly due to the 4h rule – I went for 2pm pickup on the Mon/6pm return on the Thurs, which meant I only had to pay for 3 days rental. Quidco also offer 8% on prepaid rates :)

          For interest I compared with the US site – it doesn’t always work out this way, but they were massively more expensive!! They were charging $698(!!) for the non-logged in (‘guest’) rate and $524 after being logged in and using Plat CDP. £63 after Quidco seems a pretty darn good price in comparison! Both included unlimited miles but the UK site also included LDW – so ironically cheaper although some insurance was included!

      • Note however some car rentals will charge an admin for removing insurance. I was recently renting in DUB and I was charged €30 by Avis for removing all insurances. The cost of insurance for the rental was €37. I normally use Hertz and this is never an issue with them.

  6. Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

    Avis’ Preferred scheme is also worth it. Main benefit is a free rental each year after you complete three. Also seem to get a ~40% upgrade rate even without status.

  7. “In theory, nothing stops you booking a car using (for eg) the Virgin Atlantic discount code for Avis and then crediting the stay to a BAEC account.”

    If you do that you’ll get the base miles only, not the campaign bonuses, eg 750 Avios for renting 4 times in a year.

    The best car rental miles promotion out there is the Avis Flying Blue accelerator, 52 0000 miles for 6 rentals. but be prepared to fight for the miles.
    See the threads on Flyertalk

    http://production.rent-at-avis.com/avisonline/gb/avis_ba.nsf/c/flying%20b%20uk+terms_and_conditions,rent_with_avis_and_earn_more_award_miles

  8. mummy55 says:

    We have been booking Hertz through Virgin shops away which gives 4miles to£1. Plus 1000 miles per booking and for our last 6 bookings something called January bonus 2013 which is 2013 miles per booking. Last time in June that was 894 +1000+2013 total=3907virgin miles(plus 224 Amex MR points)!

    • Impressive return! Unfortunately Virgin don’t really fit with my travel plans. Is there a way to convert Virgin miles to Amex MR and then further conversions to Avios/Miles &More etc?

      • Options for non-flying rewards with Virgin for small balances:

        Hilton HHonors
        IHG Rewards Club (Holiday Inn etc)
        Gift vouchers – 12,500 miles gets you £50 of Virgin vouchers, good for trains, wine, Theatre Tokens etc
        Domestic UK flights (3,750 miles one way)

  9. Mr Bridge says:

    do you get the 2.02% with tcb, if you link to ba that way, as well as asthe bonus avios, and the amex upgrade>

    • Good question… no harm trying.

      However, I think if you book via the normal Avis page, accessible via Avis link on TCB, you still get the same benefits as long as the BA code is in the booking.

  10. Diana D. says:

    I wouldn’t recommend Avis car rental at Alicante airport, no matter how good the offers. The queue two weeks ago (22 June) was HORRENDOUS, curving round in a huge circle. People must’ve waited a good hour or more to pick up their car. We were luckier at Europcar, waiting 20 mins as one us flew through the airport to queue, whilst the rest of us collected the bags, but Centauro and Sixt had no queue at all. Something to consider when you and your family just want to be on your way!!