Earning miles and points from Hertz – a beginners guide

I am not an expert on car rentals – I only tend to hire a car two or three times a year, almost always for a trip out of London.  I was therefore grateful when Head for Points reader Felix offered to write an introductory piece on Hertz Gold Plus Rewards and earning airline miles from Hertz. 

As usual with guest posts, blame me for any errors and not Felix, because I have edited the piece and added a few extra details here and there!  Over to you, Felix ….

When renting a car, like flying, there are nearly always a number of options at your chosen pick-up point, from the single branch operation to a multinational behemoth. Also, like flying, your loyalty preferences can pay an important part in choosing which one to pick.

This post is about Hertz – one of the biggest and in my opinion often one of the best, with offices from Albania to Yemen and a good, clean product.

Hertz Gold Plus Rewards

Rather like a hotel loyalty programme, Hertz gives you the option of taking points in its own programme (Gold Plus Rewards) OR receiving a one-off chunk of airline miles.

Unlike most hotel programmes, though, with Hertz you are usually better off taking the airline miles!

Hertz Gold Plus

Let’s look at the various tiers of Hertz Gold Plus Rewards:

Hertz Gold Plus Rewards – basic tier

This is free to join and confers a number of benefits such as storing your details in a profile for quicker rentals and points accrual.

In my opinion the most valuable benefit of the scheme is it removes the requirement of the counterpart licence, meaning I could just walk into any Hertz office and drive out within minutes using only a credit card and my plastic DVLA photocard.

While in city centre locations you may receive quicker service, staff permitting, at a Hertz Gold Plus counter, the airport pickup is infinitely faster with your name and bay number displayed on a board and keys in the ignition.  Showing the rental document and your licence allows you to leave the parking lot immediately.

(Raffles note:  too true.  I remember a woeful 50 minutes spent queuing in Hertz at Cape Town airport two years ago.  Had I bothered to sign up for the programme at that point, I could have saved at least 45 of those minutes.)

Hertz Gold Plus Rewards – Five Star

The next level up is available FREE if you have an Amex Platinum charge card.  As long as you put your Platinum card number into your Hertz Gold Plus Rewards profile, you should be automatically upgraded.  It can also be earned after 10 rentals a year.  Five Star gives two more valuable benefits :

  • A 4-hour grace period
  • A 1 car-class upgrade where available. This can also be leveraged when bargaining with the rental desk for a car you actually want rather than the one you have been assigned.

Hertz and Amex

Many HFP readers will have an American Express Platinum card and therefore will probably already have a Hertz Gold Plus Rewards – Five Star membership.  This relationship has true benefits as I mentioned above.

Hertz also offers the following discounts for Amex cardholders:

Platinum (CDP 211672 or 633306) – 15%

Centurion (CDP 591064) – 20%

Speak to an agent at Hertz and they can load the CDP into your profile permanently so it appears as a dropdown when you log in.

It is worth noting that the Platinum and Centurion discount codes above AUTOMATICALLY give you the additional 4-hour grace period.  This means that you can still access this benefit even if you take airline miles from your rental instead of Hertz points.  This can be surprisingly useful if going away at the weekend – a rental from 12 noon on Friday to 4pm on Monday is only priced as three days and not four.

Amex Platinum and Centurion cardholders also benefit from car rental insurance for primary and supplementary cardholders so you have the option of declining all offered packages where not mandatory. As a quirk, one cannot claim against oneself, so if you crash into a vehicle rented by a supplementary card holder your insurance is invalid!

You will also find a range of other discount codes online.  Some are theoretically restricted to members of certain frequent flyer programmes or employees of certain companies.  The Hertz website will also often give lower prices depending on which country website you book with.  It is up to you whether you are happy going down this route and claiming discounts to which you are not technically entitled.

Should you collect Hertz points or airline miles from your rental?

You have the option of taking Hertz Gold Plus Rewards points or airline miles from your rental.

I usually select airline miles as they offer better value.  With airlines, the earning rate varies.  The most generous is Virgin Atlantic Flying Club at 1,000 miles per rental.  I’m currently saving up American Airlines AAdvantage miles (1 per $1 spent, although there is a 400% bonus until June 2014) for a US transcontinental booking – American has much lower taxes than UK carriers and you can take advantage of a ‘free’ US leg after or before an international flight.

If you want to earn Avios from your booking, you will need to credit it to Iberia Plus.  You will earn 300 Avios per day, more for larger cars.  You cannot credit your rental to British Airways Executive Club due to the exclusive deal that BA has with Avis.

If you opt to earn Hertz Gold Plus Rewards points, you will earn 1 point per pound/dollar/euro spent excluding multipliers. These can be redeemed for free days on a sliding scale of expense, although the redemption amounts differ by country.

This is the UK points redemption chart:

Hertz UK reward chart

Points expire after no account activity within a two year period.  However, you can transfer them for free to your spouse or ‘domestic partner’ by calling.

In addition, Hertz points can be transferred to these airline programmes in 600 point blocks:

Hertz airline partners

600 Hertz points = 500 airline miles, 1,200 Southwest Points or 1,000 IHG Rewards Club Points.  This is generally a poor deal compared to using them for a free rental.

The intricacies of booking

Booking a car is where things start to get interesting. Below is a price comparison of a number of searches for a midsize car between Friday 6th and Monday 9th June. Totals in yellow are the marginally more expensive Pay at Location prices.

From London Marble Arch:

Hertz price 1

From Las Vegas McCarran:

Hertz price 2

You can see from this that there is huge variance in prices, so putting in the time to play around with location and discount variables can lead to some tangible rewards. This holds true for every location.

Booking in Europe is generally cheaper from the USA and vice versa, but try selecting a country with a (relatively) devalued currency, such as Russia and you may find some good deals if you don’t mind paying in Rubles.

Not happy?

Finally, as a seasoned traveller you will know there is always room for negotiating. You’ll also know that whingeing is the fastest way to shut down any progress you could be making, so put on your best ‘is there any chance of an upgrade’ face and wind up the charm.

Hertz counter staff are empowered to make any substitutions possible.  If you visit one location regularly it is worth striking up a conversation about how, while you ordered a VW Golf but you’ve been given a Volvo estate, you don’t really need all that space and would much rather an Audi A4.

Another tactic for those that visit the same location more than once is to enquire about the fleet.  You can save £10 per day by ordering a cheaper car you know they don’t carry at that branch.

If all else fails, offer a cookie (Benny at London Victoria is partial to chocolate chip) and a smile and they’ll remember you for next time …..

500 Clubcard points (1,200 Avios) when you buy 2 HP ink cartridges from Tesco
15,000 Miles & More miles for £190 .... plus 6 months of the Int'l New York Times!
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Comments

  1. steve blower says:

    I consistently find a huge divergence between the prices depending on if I am logged on as a gold member, or not.

    As an example, a 24 hour rental at LCY, April 5…..

    Corsa: not logged in, £24.73; logged in £86.41
    Compact: not logged in, £29.23; logged in £104.17
    Intermediate: not logged in, £35.22; logged in £116.04

    I have checked my profile preferences, all set to the minimum. I was using the 30% sale button both times….

    What I have done in the past to get the way cheaper rate is log out, make the booking and put my gold number in the comments box.

  2. Great Post,

    As I was needing to book some Hertz rentals.

    Questions :

    1) locally paid, can the local Hertz cancel your booking? I need 2-3 cars in Brasil during World cup, and with the sale it has good prices. So do no want them locally to cancel them

    2) Who could help me find the best rate with complete insurance for the following :

    09/06/2014 – 15/07/2014: Sao Paolo.

    This can be split up in weeks or weekends.. I am flexible 😉

    I do not have access to British UK-cards.

    Thanks

  3. Thanks Raffles & Felix for this useful review.

    A couple of thoughts from me after making a few Hertz bookings over the past couple of years since having Amex Plat.

    1) I find the Plat CDP gives me 20% off, not 15%. The 4h grace period is very useful although it doesn’t apply in all countries – https://www.hertz.com/rentacar/hertzlink/index.jsp?targetPage=HEL_AmexCenturion_GB.jsp gives some details. Also some places are unaware of it – for example in Uruguay they charged me for a second day, eventually I was able to get this reimbursed via Hertz CS as it was clearly confirmed in the booking. If you’re unsure if it’s included then try changing the booking times to see if you’re being charged extra in the 4h grace window or not.

    2) Hertz points – the main reason I’ve been collecting them is I find they often have promotions on with bonus points, therefore I end up getting a lot more than 1pt per USD. I agree for most though it’s probably best to just go with airline miles.

    3) 100% agree re. checking prices using different Hertz country websites and logged in/not logged in. I also tend to make plenty of use of Chrome’s Incognito mode to ensure they don’t know of any previous searches! I got a 50% reduction in a recent Geneva car hire in their Global Sale by using the UK website and searching once logged in (as I’ve got it set to remove all insurances due to Plat cover). Be aware that sometimes though the rates are paradoxically cheaper with basic insurances included!!

    4) I’ve not yet experienced the setup where everything is ready and waiting for you in the car park, however normally they’ve got everything preprinted for you as a Gold member so it’s pretty quick to sort.

    5) Upgrades – I’ve had mixed success with this. I normally find it’s worth holding off asking though – they’ll normally try and offer you a paid-for upgrade, I then say “oh so do I get that free as a 5* member?” with quite a good success rate as they realise they’ve just given away the fact that they have upgrades available 😉

    6) Flexibility – I’ve found Hertz pretty good at allowing changes to reservations close to pick-up – I therefore keep an eye on the prices and if it’s looking better then I make a new booking and cancel the old one.

    7) Other companies – if you have Hilton Gold/Diamond then you can get status with Sixt – I received free Sixt Plat thanks to HHonors Diamond. Especially in Europe they can be worth a look.

  4. What’s going on!?

    I booked yesterday a 6-day car rental in Sicily and payed £116 for it. However after I signed up for Hertz Gold Plus Reward, they were asking £360 for the same days and car. Whatever extra services you get, it is not worth £250!!! Of course I logged out and booked out it for the cheaper price.

    • Yes, this is a big issue with Hertz GP. Unless you know how to override the default settings, it adds loads of stupid stuff and changes discount codes. Best to book without it and add the number later.

  5. IslandDweller says:

    Great article – thanks. My experience is that the Hertz profile is massively useful for saving time at 99% of airport locations – the documents will be pre-prepared and ready to go, but city centre branches rarely pre-print the documents. The Gold upgrade is something of a lottery. I’ve had some spectacularly nice upgrades in some locations whereas other (Glasgow airport I am looking at you) only manage an upgrade about one time in ten….
    The profile thing (as others have pointed out) can also work against you. I needed to hire a van (UK meaning – a big thing to put furniture in – not an MPV) and when logged in the system would not give me a quote. Logged out I got a great quote….What gives with this Hertz…?

    • Lady London says:

      There was a bug on the website in past few weeks. If you wanted a van, you had to go back and pull down Van category again and tell it yes you really did want a van and search again. Then it worked.

      Earlier in January in order to select a Van, you actually had to pull down and click on the category (not Vans) above it, and then search and it would show you Vans :-)

      The site does have a few problems like this that occur from time to time. All I would wish now is to be able to earn Avios or other Miles for Vans but for this category miles seem to be nonexistent even when miles are awarded by spend.