Holiday Tips 4 – earning Avios and other airline miles from car rentals

This is the final part of our ‘Holiday Tips’ series which I have updated and re-run this week in preparation for the Summer season. 

Earlier articles looked at the best credit card to use abroad, the best way to earn miles when ordering foreign currency and earning miles when booking airport car parking.

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 Avios or miles opportunities. There are plenty of low-cost consolidators like easyCar or Holiday Autos who are used by the big car rental 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.

How to earn Avios from car rentals

Avis is the official partner of BAEC, and even has its own website at The rate is 3 Avios per £1 spent, with a minimum of 500.  If you rent for three days, the minimum goes up to 700 Avios.

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 British Airways American Express credit card. If you do four rentals in a year, you also get a further 750 Avios. Avis is the only official BA and car earning partner.

Until 2014, you had substantially more partner opportunities with Iberia Plus.  That is now over.  They have dropped their partnerhips with Europcar, Hertz and Sixt.  The only remaining earning options via Iberia Plus are with Avis and their sister company Budget.  Iberia Plus is your only option to earn Avios from Budget.

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 and Alamo deals are particularly attractive at 1,000 miles per rental, with Avis and Sixt offering 500 miles for short rentals.

Miles & More also has a large list of partners (see here) – Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz and Sixt.  You will find similar deals with any other airline scheme to which you belong.  British Airways is in a minority by having an exclusive car rental partner.

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

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

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.

Remember that crediting a rental to a hotel scheme may help delay the expiry of your hotel points.

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, Budget, Sixt

IHG Rewards Club – Hertz

And don’t forget Hertz Gold Plus Rewards

Hertz also has its own reward programme, Hertz Gold Plus Rewards, which I reviewed here. 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.

Finally …. a word on car hire insurance

Car hire insurance is generally more expensive than the basic cost of the rental itself.  Separating the insurance from the rental can often lead to significant savings.

American Express Platinum comes with full car hire insurance coverage and, for a regular renter, is an attractive deal.  You do not need to pay for your car hire on your Amex card and there is no small print.  You can decline all insurance options safe in the knowledge that American Express will pay if necessary.

There are also various independent companies selling car hire insurance, of which insurance4carhire is probably the best known.  This is likely to be substantially cheaper.

One issue you have, when you have arranged separate insurance, is getting your rental to price without any coverage.  The rental company websites often add coverage by default.  One possible way around this is to book from the US website of a major rental group – the US ‘norm’ is to show base prices with minimal coverage, which is exactly what you need in this scenario.

One word of warning.  If you do use Amex Platinum or a third party such as, be prepared to be asked for a substantial credit card authorisation to be taken when you collect the car.  It is impossible for the rental company to verify your insurance cover, whatever paperwork you show them, so you may be asked for an authorisation (NOT a charge, just an authorisation) of a few thousand pounds on your card.

Singapore Airlines launches Manchester - Houston and Manchester - Singapore
'Kids Fly Free' on BA until November to/from Leeds, Newcastle, Inverness and Belfast
About Head for Points

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


  1. James A says:

    Note that you can in theory click through from shops away (5 miles per £ for most companies) and then use the Virgin discount code when booking as well. Should work to double dip with Avios too.

  2. Peaceful Waters says:

    It’s well worth registering for Avis preferred to save time when collecting a car.

    You can also buy CDW Excess Insurance at and burn some Avios if needed. Similar value to a hotel booking, so not great, but an option to save cash if needed.

  3. Bluejosh says:

    Anyone know if you can retrospectively add the points for a budget/Iberia plus accrual? Hired a car in the states during April but didn’t realise they were affiliated. I have a live Iberia Plus account. Thanks.

  4. I use Direct Car Excess for the car hire insurance and just buy an annual policy for about £40, not had to claim but their reviews seem good.

  5. Worth noting that Accor now have a partnership with Hertz – to celebrate, you get 5 points (worth 10 cents) for every Euro spent – which therefore equates to 10% back – plus 10% off and a free additional driver. Think this is valid until the end of August. You also get signed up to Hertz’s reward scheme, so presumably get those benefits, too.

  6. My understating is that the annual insurance policies cover the excess that would be charged if you have damaged the vehicle or had it stolen. But I think you still need to make sure that the rental contract includes CDW and loss theft protection. If you have contract with all insurances declined, you are at risk of having to cough up the full value of the car ( minus the excess that you are covered for). So just beware as I found myself in this position the other day until a very caring Hertz representative explained what my maximum financial exposure would be by not including basic CDW on my rental contract. So just beware and make sure you’re covered.

    • For Amex Plat they want you to decline other insurances and fully cover you – I’m not sure what insurance4carhire, etc. look for/cover.

      • Correct. Amex is very clear, you can decline everything – although most countries insist on a legal minimum of included cover you can’t shake.

  7. Hertz also offer nectar points.

    Joining hertz gold club gives you a free second driver. Although by law all Californian rentals include a second driver.

    The USA sites can often be much dearer so check prices carefully.

  8. If you’re planning on using Supercard to pay, don’t use it for the authorisation! As Raffles says, this could be thousands, which Supercard will actually charge to your card

    I’ve never received Hertz points or airline miles on prepaid Hertz rentals. But I recently discovered that if you cancel 7 days before pickup, Hertz prepaid rentals are fully refundable. Useful to lock in a bettr exchange rate if renting outside the UK – just cancel and rebook if the GBP price drops

    • Use a card that you don’t use very often, don’t use CURVE or SUPERCARD for this

  9. Didn’t realise there were insurance companies that specialised in hire car excess insurance, just checked out insurance4carhire and it looks great! I was quoted circa £50 for single trip full cover when making a hire last week at europcar (didn’t take it just took the risk!) and wish I had known about this before. Any advice or recommendations on who to use?

  10. Need a car hire for 6 people plus luggage. Something like a Yukon XL nashville to memohis in September. One of party got a price of about £1400 from Hertz. So I said I would have a loo any ideas ?

  11. Howard have a look at autoslash, I’m using them for trip to Hawaii, half the price of HolidayAutos or easycar mentioned in the article. They book with one of the major car hire companies Hertz, Avis, Alamo etc – you pick the one you want and then Autoslash actively monitor your booking and rebook it if price drops. Fully flexible too, no payment until you pick up the car.

  12. AVOID Goldcar Bilabo, I used goldcar Bilbao and If you value your time forget it, you can end up waiting upto an hour for the minibus at the airport and then when you get to the office they are the slowest people you will ever see, I had to wait an hour and there were only 2 people in front of me!

    Use Enterprise/Alamo (Same desk) they are at the airport and offer reasonable prices.

    Hope this helps

  13. Hi can anyone with experience tell me out of the following US destinations if any have arrivals lounges and what the requirements are if they do

    New York
    San Fran
    Las Vegas

    thanks in advance

  14. Europcar —> Accorhotels —> Iberia —> Avios

    • Does Accor translate partner points automatically ….? If so, you could go Finnair to Accor to Iberia, although with massive dilution.

  15. Barry cutters says:

    I have the 5* hertz thing . It’s top level . However Iv never actually been able to work out how to use the points. Every time I search to make a booking it doesn’t find any reward bookings. Am I doing something wrong?

    • It’s not actually top level, that’s President’s Circle. Availability massively varies by date and location, you can call them if having trouble finding dates. Savings can be very impressive though, I used points in Melbourne for 1st-3rd Jan this year and all rental companies were wanting hundreds of dollars a day, even booking a couple of months early (they were sold out by Dec). Thankfully I could use Hertz points so got corking value out of them! With Gold Plus Rewards you can also skip the regular queues at a lot of locations and just go straight to pick up your car or to a dedicated desk by the parking lot. Overall had decent experience and value for money from them.

      • barry cutters says:

        Sorry yes I’m presidents circle. I rent a lot of cars for work abroad. Also had a xc60 from them for almost 2 months in Jan when mine had issues. Still cannot work out how to use my 12000 points

  16. Chris jones says:

    I’ve found Hertz reward a waste of time. I booked for a week from palma in April with hertz (avoiding record go) it was over £100 more direct from hertz, than

    emailed hertz but no reply as a hertz 5 star gold you should feel a little bit valued.


  17. Have used Avis on our annual trips to France. Each time they have been amazing. As mentioned Definately register as Avis Preferred as you can skip the q at the rental desk and be served at a separate ‘preferred’ desk. Last month it took all of 1 min to get my keys and go. You also get another driver insured for Free

    This year we booked on as they now offer the same as the .com site where you can pay the same price whether it be pay now or after the rental. I actually checked the same booking again, it went down in price since I booked so I booked it again and cancelled my other reservation!!

    Each year I have also used a discount code of W300012 which I think gives 20% off.

    Again as others have said def use a excess car policy as the reviews seem pretty good.

    I may sound like an employee of Avis,…. Lol… I am not, just had excellent experiences every time and thought I would share!

    Happy holidays ✈️

  18. Oh…. And don’t forget to claim your Avios too!

  19. We have the Avis basic cover for our upcoming trip to the USA – we have recently taken out the platinum card – will the platinum card cover us for the parts the Avis cover doesn’t ie. the excess?

    • Yes, Amex Plat car hire cover doesn’t require payment on the card, so you’re covered as long as you’ve got the card.

      • Great thanks Alan – hubby was going to phone Amex tomorrow to double check. Also hoping for an upgraded car but won’t hold our breath on that!

  20. Do you lose the perks of the Avis Preferred card linked to your Platainum Amex card as soon as you cancel the Platinum card or do they continue for a period of time like the hotel status?

  21. Michael says:

    I’m completely disgusted with the grubby world of car rental companies, especially the larger ones!
    To say it’s confusing is an understatement and the big players (Avis, Hertz, Europcar) are amongst the most expensive and least transparent when it comes to extra charges.
    Excess policies vary by country as do those for extra drivers and other add-ons. I’ve booked several rentals recently including one for New Zealand – I compared prices on,,, the BA and Virgin sites and comparison sites. To be honest, after a while I wanted to give up – it’s almost impossible to compare like-with-like – inclusions vary by booking site as do prices. In the end we booked via Avis Preferred (with a small discount) and used our Platinum card to avoid extra insurances. We returned the car on Saturday in NZ and were told it was fine as there was no damage. Although all pre-paid this morning I’ve found another £200 charged to the Platinum by Avis New Zealand and no contact from Avis to inform us of why this is – I’ve heard this isn’t uncommon amongst the large rental firms. I have to wait until NZ time to call them first thing, but obviously I’m furious.
    The benefits offered by booking direct with the large firms are so poor, as are their “loyalty schemes”, that it really doesn’t seem worth it. It’s no wonder people book via third party sites.

    • Why didn’t you get a bit of paper/ invoice from them saying ‘no further damage’?

      • Simples

        • The extra charges were not in relation to damage. they were for 2 reasons:

          Apparently the full pre-payment voucher didn’t cover the full cost the rental – but they couldn’t explain how or why.

          In my Avis Preferred profile there were some default settings. I hadn’t noticed as they’re not visible when you log in to your Preferred account on, instead you must log in and make changes to your profile on Given that I (and most other UK customers) booked on the website, this seems both odd and unreasonable to not make it visible.

          After 3 weeks Avis agreed that they had over-charged and refund the extra charges. Never again!

  22. jarvester says:

    Totally OT but did not find any live Amex Plat threads where to ask this. I hold an Amex Plat which I am now ready to cancel after having hit the sign up bonus. Questions as follows, help much appreciated and apologies if this has been asked before:
    1. My wife is a gold card holder – can I refer her for a Plat upgrade and get the referral bonus? If the answer is yes (wishful thinking0 will she still be getting the £15k points on £1k spend?
    2. If I register for one of the Amex BA cards before cancelling my Plat, will I be able to keep all my MR points on my account after I cancel? Don’t want to transfer to Avios unless totally necessary. If the answer is yes, will I be able to apply for a Gold/Plat card after six months and get the sign up bonuses credited to the same account?
    3. Can I be referred by my wife and get the enhanced sign up bonus for the Amex BA card?
    Thanks a lot for your help!

    • 1. No
      2. No, must empty your MR account
      3. No, only a BA can refer a BA

      • jarvester says:

        Thanks Rob – I thought that would be the case but worth asking

        • Genghis says:

          To explain:
          1) you can only refer for same reward currency
          2) you can only have one card with the same reward currency

          • You can have a Gold and a Platinum but you won’t get a bonus on the 2nd card.

            You can’t have both BA cards.

            Amex is odd like that :-)

  23. I’ve renting 4 times with Hertz since getting the Gold Rewards status with Amex Platinum a few months back. Have about 1000 points in Hertz Rewards. Now learn that Virgin Flying Club give you 1000 each rental. Presume you have to take Flying Club miles instead and can’t double dip? How do you do switch to Flying Club? Not found on Hertz’s site…

    • You either need to add it during booking or, if you don’t take Hertz points either, retroclaim using the form on the Hertz site. If you’ve got Hertz points you can’t change that.

  24. Hi where do you enter your virgin member number when booking? Thanks