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How to maximise Hertz Gold Plus Rewards points – our 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 generally take the 1,000 Virgin Points offered via the Hertz / Virgin Flying Club partnership.

Crediting Hertz rentals to IHG Rewards Club is also a decent deal as this article explains.

Regular renters may decide to take the points, however.  Regular HfP commentator Charlieface is a regular Hertz renter.  He originally wrote this article for us 18 months and has updated it this week.

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

You can join Hertz Gold via the website here.

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.

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 every so often.  They offer a few hundred to over 1,000 bonus points. An offer is currently running offering double points. You must use PC code 210225 but you can combine CDP codes as well. More on codes later.

Review 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 (anyone can get a free additional driver – who doesn’t need to be your spouse or partner – via certain codes)
• 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 but you can get this via codes)
• 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 and IHG Spire.  Accor Platinum, Delta Platinum, United Premier 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.

Hertz has never published the full 2020 redemption calendars online.  You can check the AnyDay peak redemption dates for 2019 in Europe, which will give you a feel for when peak pricing kicks in, on this page of the Hertz website.

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.

Note that according to the published T&Cs, cancellations for points booking must be made 24 hours before pickup or you will forfeit your points.  According to reader comments, however, there now appears to be a 50% (for Gold) or 25% (For Five Star) forfeit. This seems to have been documented here (although the link is currently unavailable) which in turn also references this document.

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 rentals – it used to be 24 months of no activity. This means if you earn points from a promotion or from canceling a points reservation, they will not protect your balance.

You can transfer points between spouses/partners for free.  Transfer to airlines have been suspended since Hertz Corp went into Chapter 11, but were at poor rates anyway.  The rewards auction site Hertz used to have appears to be closed, again this was at poor rates.

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.  Check the website offer page, as there are often public discounts advertised – currently there is 20% off with CDP 907022.

Go through all your memberships and see what they offer.  The Amex Platinum code 633306 (also try 211762) offers 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 and hope that you are not charged.

The way the Amex Platinum discount works is that a rental from 11am one day to 3pm the next is only charged as one day, not two days.  It also used to offer 25% off, but it appears you only get 10% these days. You do not need to pay with American Express but take it along just in case.

All American Express cards offer 10% off 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, or free upgrades.  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.

Comments (58)

  • Danny says:

    Interesting article but doesn’t seem to have been properly updated. Transfers of points to airlines was stopped earlier this year when Hertz went into bankruptcy. Even if you can find a Hertz country site where they forgot to remove this option, the transfers simply don’t go through (I requested mine through the Canadian web site back in August and nothing ever happened). Judging from the angry thread on Flyertalk its highly unlikely Hertz have “fixed the bug that meant points not earned from rentals would not extend the expiry” which seems to be deliberate policy rather than a bug. Hertz have been quite clear that only rental activity will extend points and almost alone in refusing to extend expiry dates due to COVID-19 resulting in a lot of unhappy customers losing all their points. I’ll be in the situation next month (got 4,000+ points expiring in January with zero chance of a rental before then since I live in Hong Kong) and am not happy about it, to put it mildly.

  • S says:

    Worth mentioning that you lose 25% of points if cancelling, even if well before pickup date. I got caught by this.

    • Terry says:

      Hertz website has several contradictions, but yes:

      * If a reservation which was booked with points is cancelled within 24 hours of booking, all points will be returned

      *.If a reservation which was booked using points is cancelled more than 24 hours before the pickup time the following points will be forfeited:
      – Gold member, 50% of the points
      – Five Star member, 25% of the points
      – President’s Circle member, no points

      * If the customer does not cancel the reservation prior to the time of pick-up and the rental vehicle is not picked up on the rental date, all the points used toward the rental amount will be forfeited, regardless of the members tier status.

  • Mark says:

    I could never find availability to redeem my points for a rental and ended up transferring them out in the end. Agree the website is pretty poor too. Having said that I got presidents circle a few years back through a status matching hack shown on this website and got an upgrade to a Audi A5 Quattro for a weeks rental having paid for a Ford Focus, so it’s definitely worth exploring!

    • Terry says:

      You have to use the ‘Pay Later’ rate, in order to redeem rewards.

      If no reward availability shows, it’s worth putting a call into Central Reservations.

    • Charlieface says:

      Check your settings match the ones I write under “How to join Hertz Gold Plus Rewards” otherwise you may see no availability. Also you need enough points to see it. There should be no blackout dates, apart from AnyDay at double the price.

    • Harry T says:

      I used the same status match to become President’s Circle!

      I was upgraded at Tenerife South from a Toyota Yaris to a nice auto BMW X1.

  • mradey says:

    Thanks for the article – it’s prompted me to check my balance and possible redemptions. I’ve always assumed they were worth ‘a fiver’.

    At 12,000 ish points I see I can get some rather juicy redemptions!

  • Paul says:

    I have 3000+ points and due Covid restrictions have had 3 bookings cancelled this year. I thought Hertz would be flexible with expiration but not a bit of it. They have rigidly stuck to the 18 month rule so buyer beware.
    The Australia trick is real, works well but I have never been able to log in and then navigate to another country.
    The website and app are probably the most utterly useless online booking systems of any travel firm bar none!
    Currently at many U.K. locations you can only rent 8-4 Monday to Friday including Glasgow airport. The supplements for “out of hours pick up are insane” this stretches into February next year.
    And make sure you carry the exact credit card you booked and or paid with. My Amex platinum card was changed between making a paid booking and pick up. Hertz refunded the original costs and charged me 3 times the old rate to keep the rental. At one stage Hertz had almost £5000 booked on my platinum card during a 3 week trip in the USA. They were hard to deal with and customer service is not a strong point no matter what your status!

    • Charlieface says:

      Yes, true, you need the actual card you paid with. Every company except Europcar enforces this.

      • AndyGWP says:

        Didn’t realise this. What if it’s been cancelled? 😱

        Do they just want to see it? (Ie. Can I just not cut the card up?)

        • The real John says:

          I’ve only ever used Hertz in Australia, and they never cared about seeing my card. Once they didn’t even check my driving licence, keys were in every vehicle, could have just driven off…

  • Flyoff says:

    The Hertz website has conflicting information about 24 months and 18 months expiry of points with no rental transactions. I agree with Danny the earn/spend on rentals is a deliberate policy which is stated in the terms and earning from other sources will not extend the points. After cancellations of booking this year I rented a car for a day. This proved impossible online to confirm so I had to call. I was able to rent for one day over a Saturday night and picked it up from Gatwick. I was upgraded to a highly specified E class Mercedes with 600 miles on the clock. I am Presidents Circle but have never had a massive upgrade like this before. I had to pay just over £1 fee but also earned some points back which I had not expected. The points now are extended for 18 months.

    • Charlieface says:

      Best upgrade I ever had was a one week Compact for £100 for which I got a Volvo V90! Albeit this was a bit of a service recovery due to issues with staff over availability.
      I’ve also had a Kia Carens for the same class, and an X-Trail and a Renault Scenic for an Intermediate.

  • Colin JE says:

    The website is appalling, but I read that Hertz were suing Accenture for millions after they screwed it up.

    • Charlieface says:

      No, it’s a Hertz thing to do bad websites, their original one was the same. Accenture know what they’re doing if they’re actually told what needs to be done.

      • Pete says:

        Thanks for the useful article – I’ll just add my 2c to say how awful, awful, awful the website is and how I’ve actually seriously considered paying for a rental in the past, rather than go through the pain that is booking a reward hire through it…!

  • Colin JE says:

    Currently trying to figure if I should just let my 900 pts expire in February or get a cheap one day rental and go to the hassle of picking up and returning a car at my local airport to keep them.
    Any suggestions?

    • Charlieface says:

      They’re only worth a one day rental.
      Sell the points to someone else? You’ve got the additional driver after all, but you will need to go to branch with them.

    • Bill says:

      Transfer to spouse

      • Charlieface says:

        Forgot about that. I did that when they offered a sign-up bonus with Accor, no rental needed. My OH hadn’t even passed driving test.