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How to maximise Hertz Gold Plus Rewards – a comprehensive review

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This is our review of Hertz Gold Plus Rewards.

We don’t cover Hertz Gold Plus Rewards much on Head for Points because it is usually easier to take airline miles instead.  I had a Hertz car in Scotland last week for eight days and decided that 1,000 Virgin Flying Club miles was the best reward option.

Regular renters may decide to take the points, however.  Regular HFP commentator Charlieface generously offered to write an overview for us, as he is a regular Hertz renter.  We are not going to cover how to earn miles or points from Hertz in this article as this has been covered here.

Over to Charlieface:

The car rental loyalty scene in the UK often fails to impress.  Avis, Europcar and Sixt offer no earning and redeeming of points in their schemes at all, and the numbers just don’t seem to stack up for Enterprise Plus.

But then we come to Hertz Gold Plus Rewards (that’s too long, so from hereon Hertz Gold). After the removal a while back of the joining fee, it has now developed into a rather impressive scheme. There have recently been changes to the benefits packages that are also worth going through, as well as some interesting opportunities for the miles collector.

Review of Hertz Gold Plus Rewards

How to join Hertz Gold Plus Rewards

Accor has a sign-up bonus for Hertz which offers 800 points with your first rental.  Join via the specific Accor page and ensure the relevant Accor CDP code is saved into the profile.  You can also add any other CDP applicable to you, more on that later.

You must have at least one credit card stored in the profile, even though in the UK there is no problem renting with debit cards.  For Europe, select Accept CDW and Theft Protection, but not Liability Insurance.  This way, it will price correctly while you are logged in, as explained below.  Select Mini as your preferred car, otherwise you only see cars at or above the selected class.

Review of Hertz Gold Plus Rewards

Earning points

The earning rate is 1 point / $1 or equivalent. This doesn’t include VAT and other taxes, as well as location surcharges (usually around £2/day), or any insurance or other add-ons (in the EU, basic insurance is always included in the rate).

You only earn on rentals in US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, UK, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Scandinavia, Finland and Benelux.  Franchised locations (not owned by Hertz corporate) are often NOT included for earning or redeeming; I think this is a particular issue in Northern Ireland and ROI.  Bookings made via online travel agents and consolidators are also non-qualifying.

Bonus promotions come by email quite a few times a year.  They offer a few hundred to over 1,000 bonus points.  A recent one I received by email, which is also is publicly showing on the hertz.it site, offers 100 points bonus per day on rentals 4-14 days long until 30th June 2019. You must use PC code 204964 but you can combine CDP codes as well. More on codes later.

Review of Hertz Gold Plus Rewards

Gold tier

You join, oddly, at Gold level. This jumps you straight in to a rather nice package considering it’s completely free:

• Free additional driver for spouse/partner (valuable, potentially £5/rental day)
• Skip the queue (valuable at busy locations, not so valuable elsewhere)
• Standard 5% member discount on rentals (useless, there are better discounts available, see below)
• Extra member discounts during sales (actually valuable, sounds funny but good sales happen a few times a year, say 20-25% off, and members always get an extra 5% off as well as early access)
• Rentals over $/€/£250 get Hertz Connect, a locked down smartphone with a 4G hotspot and maps and games (valuable if you need it)
• 25% discount on child seats (useless, buy your own, it’s always cheaper)
• I will also add unofficially: More likely to get an upgrade. My experience at this tier was positive about two-thirds of the time, although that was usually at my small city-centre branch.

Five Star tier

After renting 12 times or spending $2,400 or equivalent by 31st December, you will be upgraded to the Five Star tier. This gains the following benefits:

• One free additional driver for anybody (very valuable if you need it)
• One-class upgrade, subject to availability (not valuable at all as you’d probably get the same upgrade just as Gold or with various memberships and promotions, and either way there’s no guarantee)
• 25% bonus points (for some reason I never receive the bonus, but it is only genuinely valuable on expensive rentals)
• Exclusive offers and invites (non-existent apart from points promos that Gold gets anyway)
• Bypass the counter entirely at 50 airports (I think these are only in the USA)

President’s Circle tier

After 20 rentals or $4,000 spend, you get President’s Circle. This adds the following:

• Guaranteed upgrade (This is only available at airports.  It can be valuable, potentially £100s per rental. Do yourself a favour and call the branch beforehand to ask about their upgrade policy.)
• Guaranteed vehicle availability, a bit like Hilton’s Diamond Guarantee in that it is only useful if you’re prepared to spend the ludicrous amount of money they ask, which implicity includes the cost of compensation for another customer who now won’t be getting a car
• 50% bonus points (as above)

Review of Hertz Gold Plus Rewards

How to jump tiers

Amex Platinum offers Five Star for FREE as does Delta Gold, United Gold, Accor Gold, Marriott Titanium and IHG Spire.  Accor Platinum, Delta Platinum, United Platinum and Lufthansa Senator get President’s Circle.  To apply for these, usually you just add the relevant CDP to your profile and Hertz will check it and upgrade you within a couple weeks.

It is not worth pushing extra spend to Hertz just to make a higher tier, as Five Star has little measurable benefit apart from the extra driver.  Even President’s Circle upgrades struggle to show value to me.  If you really want Five Star you may as well go via one of the partners.

Using your points

Now we come to the meat of the program. Hertz Gold is based on fixed price rewards, which are different in each country, see here.  As we know, these types of rewards are best for maximising the arbitrage of any scheme.

Generally, across Europe, 7-seat (class J) and Green (class C6) are impossible to get.  The stand-out redemptions are for a Compact (class C) or Intermediate (class D) size, manual only:

  • 900 points for 1 weekday
  • 800 / 1200 points for 1 or 2 weekend days respectively
  • 2800 points for 1 week

There is never any point taking a Compact if an Intermediate is available, unless you are driving somewhere where a smaller vehicle could be useful.  These two sizes are generally the only available redemptions in Europe.

Bearing in mind that you make 2,800 points on about £2,700+ of rentals (excluding recurrent bonus promos), a week for class D at busy periods around holidays can easily be worth 10% of that, which is an excellent return.  The key here is to only redeem at busy times.  Personally I don’t rent often enough these days to justify a valuation that high, but it works well for anyone who is regularly renting and can hold back on using their points for a peak week.

There are no blackout dates at all, so if you can rent the specific class for cash, you’re good to go.

One real bugbear is the fact that on certain peak dates you must use the AnyDay award rate, which is double the normal rate. The dates for each location vary.  The trick to get around this is to start your rental on a normal date, as it always prices off the start date. Equally, the rewards offered are based on what day you start.

You can check the AnyDay peak redemption dates for 2019 in Europe on this page of the Hertz website and for the United States on this page.

Each booking can only use one reward, but you can add days for cash if needed. If you need more than one day or week, I find they’re usually OK with back-to-back rentals without returning the car, but do check first with the branch.

CDW/TP are included where they are normally included in the rate, but other add-ons must be paid for, including one-way charges and government taxes. CDP but not PC codes can be combined. Prepaid rentals are available with points, but there is just a little link for it at the top of the car selections. A weekend must have a Saturday night included; in practice, it seems to also require a Thursday – Saturday start and at least 2 days rental.

In the US, there is even further scope for arbitrage, as you can rent Specialty and Prestige cars for not much more than standard cars.  There are one-way awards available as well for all of you who like driving coast-to-coast.

Unfortunately, the Hertz website has many issues

Ignore the final cost calculation on redemptions as it screws up the VAT. The correct calculation is nearly always to take the fixed insurance and surcharges and add VAT on just those items. If you change dates on the final page, go back a page then forwards again, otherwise it screws up the redemption.

If your profile has the wrong selections, you only see CDW-excluded rates, or only above class D, or LI added in. If you select a car and then want go back and to change it to a lower category, go back to the homepage, and select Show All Cars.

Review of Hertz Gold Plus Rewards

Managing your points

If you don’t receive your points, you can retroclaim within six months.

Points now expire after 18 months of no activity (it used to be 24 months). I hope they have finally fixed the bug that meant points not earned from rentals would not extend the expiry.

You can transfer points between spouses/partners for free.  You can also transfer to airlines if you are Five Star, but the rates are poor.  You can now use points for auctions, as reported recently by HfP; again the rate is poor.

How to price Hertz cheaply on cash rentals

The big question here is how to get all the discounts to stack up.

The first thing to find out is the best CDP for you. Go through all your memberships and see what they offer. The Amex Platinum code 633306 (also try 211762) should offer 25% off, as well as an extra four hours grace period for free.  You should preferably add the extra hours at booking time, don’t just return the car late – a rental from 11am one day to 3pm the next is only charged as one day, not two days.

All Amex cards offer 10% with 705500, Flying Blue 629733 gives 15% off, as does Mastercard 795091 and Visa 618583.  The hotel codes offering 35% off usually only work well in the US.  Proof of eligibility is sometimes asked for so make sure to take it along.

Then add PC codes, these are generally points bonuses or fixed £’s off.  203888 is £/$25 off with Visa.  Redemptions use PC codes to activate so they do not combine.

To get weekend rates, start after Thursday 12 p.m., end before Tuesday 12 p.m. and quote for a maximum of 4 days. Try move the start date earlier (yes earlier!) at peak times because pricing always goes by start date. I saved someone over £300 this Easter and got him an extra week rental by doing just that.

Finally, and this is the big one: use another country site. You don’t need to be a resident in that country.  Australia is generally the cheapest, but Brazil and the US are sometimes worth trying. You can do this just by going to the top of the co.uk homepage and switching the country, or by going direct to the local site. Make sure you do it again after logging in, as it switches you back after logging in and at various random intervals of its choosing.

Generally, European codes don’t work very well or at all in the US and vice versa.  For the US, it can be really hard as there are so many codes available, most of which are useless, but a few are excellent.  A good one to try is CDP AAA (yes, that’s a real code) and if you have AA or RAC membership you should be fine to use it.

Hertz One offers a flat £1 for a one-day, one-way rental similar to the Europcar scheme.  This rentals are usually only valid to/from major airports and can be fantastic value compared to taking the train, coach or taxi.  These do not qualify for points, however.

How to get cheap excess insurance

Finally, a note on cheap excess insurance, which covers you for damage to the car up to the excess. There is no point buying from Hertz at £10+/day.

If you use your own CDW insurance as well, you may be asked for a very large deposit, possibly for more than the value of the car. The best deals I have found are carhireexcess.com for daily Europe coverage at less than £2/day and worldwide annual at £40, and Questor using code MSE2097 for around £30 annual Europe coverage.  Both let you add on family members for free, have a generous definition of Europe, high-ish limits, and I found a straightforward claims process with both.

insurance4carhire is another option.  You can compare more deals at MoneyMaxim, the only comparison site for excess insurance.

Remember that American Express Platinum cardholders get car rental excess insurance included for free with their card benefits.

Conclusion

If you only ever rent once a year or less, you may be better just taking the cheapest company and claiming some airline miles – although Avios can only be earned with Avis and Budget.

For everyone else, I find that Hertz Gold Plus Rewards is a great all round program.  The best approach is to allow email offers and grab the promos when they come around, then redeem at peak times. I personally found Hertz the best all-round company in terms of car trim levels, upgrade chances, price, and eager-to-please customer service, and who never minded even when I pulled hairy tricks with the codes apart from maybe a sly comment …..

You can find out more on the Hertz Gold Plus Rewards website here.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

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Comments

  1. great article.

    One thing, The Amex Platinum code 211762 offers 25% off only on prestige vehicles. 15% on standard vehicles.

  2. Another query from me: if you use a CDP which isn’t the Amex Plat one, do you still get the CDW insurance on the car hire, even if you don’t pay with the Plat (I’ve forgotten the rule changes already….)

  3. Shoestring says:

    I cancelled a £1 1-way Europcar booking before Easter, up to Heathrow – Europcar emailed confirmation and that I’d be charged £1 as I missed the free 48hr cancellation & you only pay the lower of either your booking cost or £50 from memory.

    Checking my statement, they actually tried to get £20 off me, which is a bit underhand. Amex sorted it out online for a full refund.

    • Lady London says:

      sneaky. wondering what was the reason Europcar gave if you even bothered to call them?

      • Shoestring says:

        it’s now 48hrs notice for free cancellation – but last year the Europcar policy was cancel for free within 24hrs

        what they didn’t say was that the Europcar cancellation day starts at midnight

        LY I had 3 bookings going, all on the £1 deal, so needed to cancel 2

        so LY I tried to cancel my 1pm booking on the morning of the previous day, ie if it was 9am when I cancelled, I thought I was giving them 28hrs’ notice.

        but in their own mind, I was only giving them 13hrs’ notice, ie from midnight later that day until 1pm – it wasn’t possible to find that interpretation in their T&Cs, it just said very clearly free cancellation with 24hrs’ notice

        do you get the point, ie a minute past midnight, that day is ‘spent’ for cancellation purposes

        so they charged me something like £80, but I got that reversed as well 🙂

        • Mr Dee says:

          they should say full working days rather than hours esepcially when they give an actual number

        • Lady London says:

          British Airways does something similar if you want to cancel a flight. They require more than it sounds due to a day starting at midnight. IIRC this was for On Business bookings. Not sure if it applies for regular ones or if for regular ones it’s just hours.

          Some hotel groups are getting sneaky about this too. I think IHG is sneaking in that direction.

        • Lady London says:

          Well done for getting it reversed.

          If it wasn’t in their t’s and c’s at the time you made your booking, it wasn’t there contractually. That sounds really really sneaky. I was actually thinking of trying Europcar out for a booking or 2 to have someone in regular use other than Hertz – but I think I’ll wait a bit longer now. Perhaps just wait till I have a dead cert £1 booking for one of their one ways as that would limit my losses if they decide to make an undeclared re-interpretation of “hours notice” that’s not in their t’s and c’s.

  4. Charlieface says:

    @chas The plat code is for any Amex worldwide. And you don’t need to pay with it.

  5. Nomatshawe Jack says:

    My name is Nomatshawe Jack. I was not happy at all with your services as i hired a car in East london to Durban and the car gave me problems. When i returned the car to the nearest branch i was sent to another one with a faulty car with no lights. While I was traveling with the kids as well.

    • Lady London says:

      IME some branches in some countries are delinquent and will try things on.

      In case of these shenanigans (trying to make unjustified surcharges or trying to tear up and reprice the entire rental agreement if car returned 2 hours ahead but still within the day paid for, trying to reprice as though a Saturday night had not been used if car returned on Sunday morning (which adds lots and lots fo rental car pricing ( by a franchisee etc… etc…. ) then my habit now is just to go to the airport lounge and call Hertz Corporate. Problems have always been fixed on the spot.

      Always get the car signed for by staff when you leave it and confirm with them that they closed the rental there and then. This should stop later fraudulent damage charges. Try not to leave a car out of hours. If you do, photograph it all over and park it somewhere safe. Because your rental agreement will most likely say you are responsible for it until the office opens. Always always always check the final amount you were charged on your credit card. Make a point of it, and phone Hertz Corporate immediately if there is anything unexpected. This with Hertz Corporate branches as well as franchisees.

      Currently I’m ok with Hertz but frankly in an industry where suppliers appear to ‘try on
      quite a lot, even Hertz is not immune from these encounters.

  6. Charlieface, thank you for a comprehensive summary.
    One further benefit of the Amex Platinum access to the Presidents Circle is that at major US airport locations if you have booked a standard car or above, you just walk onto the lot and take anything out of the presidents circle selection that takes your fancy. That can be quite fun.
    It also works to get what you want at smaller locations, I recently had a standard Jeep ordered at San Francisco Fishermans Wharf, they didnt have one on the day but we settled on a Ford Explorer AWD which is a clear upgrade (and my preferred car, it just hadn’t been available as a booking choice).
    This benefit is likely to be rolled out elsewhere though I am unsure of the timeframe.

  7. Andy F says:

    It seems that Europcar have stopped doing their £1 OneWay deals (or are having website issues). Noticed that the option disappeared from their website (both on the Deals page and in the footer) 3 days ago and any old links take you halfway through the booking process then error out.

    • Shoestring says:

      I could get nearly to the end before error timed me out
      https://www.europcar.co.uk/deals/one-way-uk.step

      their £1 deal site has always been slow & useless, not sure it means that the deal is going away for good, probably just poor IT

    • Lady London says:

      These things come and go. When they need you (like Christmas, for example) there’s an excellent chance something like it will be back.

      Better take a hard look at the cancellation clauses though, based on Shoestring’s experience 🙂

  8. AndyGWP says:

    A much needed article for the site! Thanks CharlieFace – I have 3100points expiring in 8 months. It is unlikely I will rent before then so think my only option is the Hertz rewards auction site thing. For the past few months I have only seen Mandarin Oriental gift cards on there tho. I’m likely to plump for this before they expire given no other options… but

    1) have you noticed anything else pop up on the auction section?
    2) any other suggestions on what I could do to extend the points or use them effectively?

  9. Great article. I will only add that the HSBC World Elite also offers President Circle status.

  10. AndyGWP says:

    This seems an appropriate place to drop this link re: Hertz’ awful website!!
    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2019/04/23/hertz_accenture_lawsuit/

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