Frequent flyer programs get all the attention, but it really should be all about the car rentals.
Silvercar recently launched its own rewards program, so it seemed like a good time as any to look at the loyalty landscape when it came to cars. Most people don't even realize they're automatically entitled to a whole suite of perks, from skipping the counter to getting a discount, by simply enrolling.
Heck, even I didn't know Dollar and Hertz allows free additional drivers through its loyalty program, even if it is limited to spouses and partners. (Meanwhile, Advantage guarantees an "instant reward" for every rental.)
Hertz offers the most comprehensive benefits, though that's not really a surprise given how many awards it has won in the past for its rewards program. To illustrate, it also offers FastLane benefits for CLEAR members, and a free CLEAR trial to those who aren't yet enrolled.
Personally, most of them are worth signing up for even if the only point is to skip the counter. Especially at airports like LAX, where the car rental lines can be crazy long.
Besides, signing up for any of these programs is pretty much free.
Here's a quick comparison of benefits:
|Agency||Program||Skip Counter?1||CLEAR||Car Selection2||Free Driver3||Discount|
|Dollar||Dollar Express Rewards|
|Hertz||Gold Plus Rewards|
|Thrifty||Blue Chip Rewards|
- This benefit isn't always available. In our experience, it can range from proceeding directly to the car aisle to having a separate VIP counter. ↩
- This benefit can range from preselecting the rental car through the app, or picking it directly from the car aisle. ↩
- Generally limited to spouses and partners. ↩
- 5% ↩
- Offered through the app, for certain sized cars. ↩