Remember when ... Hilton had one of the most rewarding hotel loyalty programs? We'll wait a moment for the younger readers of the blog to stop laughing and the older travelers in the blog to wistfully remember the good old days of the Hilton Honors (then double-H HHonors) program. How does this related to rental cars?
At the beginning of the millennium, Hilton gave bonuses for reservations booked online plus extra bonuses for showing an airline's boarding pass and/or rental car keys at the time of check-in. That's right -- Hilton gave travelers more Hilton points if they provided evidence of flying and/or renting a car. Ever notice the fields "Bonus A/L" and "Bonus Car" in the upper right of an old Hilton receipt? Those were vestiges from a bygone era, where the counter agent would enter the airline and/or rental car company names.
The AutoSlash team remembers those days fondly -- we could spend four days a week on the road, earn yet another bonus due to Hilton elite status, and often accrue enough points each week for an award day! Our vacations were cheap even before "travel hacking" went mainstream! But time marches on, it's become more challenging to earn Hilton points through hotel stays, and the number of points required for Hilton hotel nights has drastically increased after multiple rounds of devaluation by the decision-makers at that loyalty program.
The online booking bonuses and airline ticket stub bonuses disappeared by mid-2002. The rental car bonus points at check-in remained around in some form with fewer participating partners over time, ending when Thrifty dropped out as the last eligible rental car company. And although Hilton has many lawyers, we suspect someone may want to more closely scrub the Hilton Honors Terms and Conditions.
Thrifty's even in the current (2017) Terms and Conditions despite not being a rental car partner.
There's still a way to earn Hilton points through car rentals but it's not nearly as rewarding. Alamo, Enterprise, and National will be the only options by the end of the year but those electing to earn Hilton points will give up points in the rental car companies own programs to do so (Enterprise Plus or National Emerald Club). There's no option of earning bonus Hilton points simply by flashing rental car keys at the checking counter anymore. So if you were to ask us, we would just stick with Enterprise Plus and National Emerald Club points/credits, and wistfully remember when Hilton gave away points like candy!
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