How HfP clogged up the UK Avis network this weekend
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A couple of weeks ago I ran this article about a shockingly generous Avios promotion run by car rental group Avis.
If you hired a Group C or above Avis car for three days, starting on December 8th, 9th or 10th, you would receive 18,700 Avios points.
Living in London, where car rental prices don’t drop too much at weekends, I didn’t fully understand how cheaply you could rent a car outside Central London. The answer is ‘very cheaply’.
Head for Points was the only site of scale in the UK to publicise this offer. It was actually aimed at members of Iberia Plus in Spain, and indeed the Avios will be dropped into an Iberia Plus account. The small print specifically said that UK rentals would count though ….
It seems we created a bit of carnage at Avis depots around the UK. Here are a few quotes from the HfP comments over the weekend:
Just picked up my car from Cambridge branch. The manager said that they’d been inundated with Spanish rentals and they’re simply not accepting any more bookings as he’d had to chase around to find enough cars for everyone. He was surprised to see lots of Spanish reservations but he had checked with head office and said that these rentals will all be eligible for the 18,000 Avios promotion.
Booked a Group E for €49.18 from Peterborough. Very friendly clerk told me I was the fifth person today with a Spanish booking. They had suspected some sort of fraud and checked it with HO who told them about the promotion. He offered to let me leave the car there as I live 35 miles away, but I’d already pre paid for NCP parking for my own car. He also said they were now short of cars.
I ‘picked up’ 2 cars today. Was planning on driving them round the corner onto a street lit residential area i’d found on google earth but the guy on the Avis desk was really helpful. He waived both £12 refuelling charges and asked me to take the keys but leave the cars in the Avis compound as would be safer. He said he’d had c.20 bookings via Iberia and knew the score for Avios so knew it wasn’t some sort of fraud trick on Avis.
Apparently this was causing huge issues at Avis in Liverpool today. Many many bookings and not enough cars. I set my parents onto this offer and my mum was lucky and got a car. She overheard plenty of folk in there asking if they could just leave the cars there as they didn’t want them anyway!
Picked up my rental this morning from Basingstoke and was upgraded to a Skoda Octavia. I don’t know how Skoda have managed to make a car so boring but they have. The lady at AVIS said that there had been a lot of customers taking advantage of the deal.
Same over here. Their system went down in the morning, when it came back up, they had 17 more bookings. Completely out of cars as well – but they had no idea why, and I didn’t hang around to explain things. Hoping for the best.
I picked mine up today – Avis’s systems were down and reservations had to be completed manually. The attendant told me that there had been such a huge number of cars rented through this promotion and that it had meant that they had no more cars available for hire in their fleet. I was asked “Is this yet another Avios booking” when I arrived there.
So, erm, sorry Avis. But you did get quite a few bookings out of it!
PS. If you did a booking under this promotion, remember that you are meant to refuel the car – and provide a receipt – however little mileage you have done. Avis can fine you if this is not done.
How to get FREE car rental status and other benefits via UK credit cards (June 2023)
If you hire a car in the UK, you can get special benefits (discounts, upgrades, free additional drivers etc) if you have elite status with a car rental programme. You can get elite status for free via certain American Express cards.
The Platinum Card and American Express Business Platinum
The Platinum Card from American Express and American Express Business Platinum come with two free car hire status cards. Your supplementary Platinum cardholder can also receive status in their own right.
From Avis, you receive President’s Club status in Avis Preferred. This gets you up to 25% off standard rates, a free additional driver and a guaranteed one class upgrade. For weekend rentals you will receive a two class upgrade, subject to availability.
From Hertz, you receive ‘Five Star’ status in Hertz Gold Plus Rewards. This gets you up to 15% off standard rates, a free additional driver and a one class upgrade, subject to availability.
Hertz also offers Platinum cardholders a 4 hour grace period on rentals. Your final day is treated as 28 hours, so a 1pm pick up with a 5pm return the following day is only charged as one day, not two days. We wrote about the Hertz / Platinum 4 hour grace period here.
The Platinum Card also comes with full car hire insurance with no obligation to pay for the rental via American Express. You can refuse any attempts to sell you additional insurance at pick up. This benefit has substantial value if you rent on a regular basis.
You can find more details on the two Platinum cards, and apply, in our full reviews:
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 13th June, the sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card is doubled to 60,000 Membership Rewards points – and you get £200 to spend at Amex Travel too! Apply here.
The Platinum Card from American Express
60,000 points AND a £200 Amex Travel voucher until 13th June! Read our full review
American Express Business Platinum
40,000 points bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is an excellent card in its own right. You receive 20,000 Membership Rewards points for signing up (convert to 20,000 Avios amongst other things), four airport lounge passes and £120 of Deliveroo credit. Even better, your first year is free.
There are two car rental benefits:
- you receive Preferred Plus status in Avis Preferred
- you receive a special package with Hertz – 10% off best available rates at participating locations, a one class upgrade for rentals of 5 days or more, subject to availability, and no additional driver fees
Find out more about the benefits of American Express Preferred Rewards Gold, and apply, in our review:
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold
Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review