Got a stash of frequent flyer miles or points? Most airline rewards programs offer the option of using points to pay for car rentals. But redeeming your air miles for rental cars is almost always a horrible deal.
You'll get much more bang for your buck if you redeem points for free rentals through frequent renter programs.
Redeem Airline Miles for Car Rentals
All the major U.S. airlines offer loyalty programs that allow members to redeem miles or points for car rentals:
American Airlines: AAdvantage members need at least 1,000 miles in their account at time of redemption. The program offers flexible payment options that let you to use miles or a combination of cash plus as few as 1,000 miles to rent a car.
Delta Air Lines: With the Miles to Go program, you can redeem miles when booking rental cars through Delta Vacations.
JetBlue Airlines:: You can redeem TrueBlue points for rental cars through JetBlue Vacations. You can apply a combination of TrueBlue points and cash by selecting the Cash + TrueBlue Points option during the redemption process.
Southwest Airlines: You can redeem Rapid Rewards for rental cars.
United Airlines: You can redeem MileagePlus Awards for rental cars with Hertz, Dollar and more.
Downside of Redeeming Airline Miles for Car Rentals
There's little flexibility. One of the big downsides of using airline miles and points for car rentals is that you may encounter onerous restrictions. With American Airlines AAdvantage, for example, the points are non-refundable and non-cancelable. Once you decide to redeem your points, they are gone, regardless if you later have to cancel your car rental.
You may need to buy car rental insurance. You may normally decline the CDW or LDW at the rental counter. But does your credit card's damage waiver cover a rental car when you pay with frequent flyer miles? It might not, so be sure to check with your credit card company before booking a rental with frequent flyer miles.
You will likely pay for taxes and fees. If your car rental voucher covers the rate, it might not include some taxes, service charges, deposits or other additional fees. This doesn't
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