Renting a car from Dollar Rent a Car? You should sign up for Dollar Express. The free loyalty program that serves primarily as an express rental program promises to get you on your way in under 60 seconds. In addition, you can earn points toward free award days, and joining the program means that your spouse or domestic partner can drive free.
With the aptly named Express program, you load your information into your profile before you arrive, so all you have to do is sign the already-completed paperwork and go.
If you're going to be renting from Dollar anyway, it's a no-brainer to sign up for Dollar Express. But given that the program is almost identical to sister company Thrifty's Blue Chip service, which also includes a satisfaction guarantee, and that Dollar and Thrifty almost always offer identical rates and vehicles (at least where both brands are operated corporately or by a dual-branded franchise), we'd suggest sticking with Thrifty unless your travel patterns or corporate agreements favor Dollar.
Tips When Signing Up for Dollar Express
It's free and easy to sign up for Dollar Express. The process is nearly identical to signing up for Thrifty Blue Chip.
You'll need your driver's license, a major credit card, and if you don't want to earn free rental days with Express Rewards, you'll need your airline frequent flyer account numbers. You'll be asked for your address, car preference, and what options you'd like to have on every rental.
If you prefer, you can opt out of Dollar Rent a Car's email special offers.
You also have the opportunity to purchase optional car rental insurance, including Loss Damage Waiver (LDW), Liability Insurance Supplement (LIS, sometimes known as Supplemental Liability Insurance or SLI) and Personal Accident Insurance (PAI). We recommend leaving all of these boxes unchecked. If you own your own car and have personal auto insurance, you likely do not need the LDW. In most states, the rental company must provide state minimum liability coverage by law, so you usually don't need to buy the LIS extra coverage to meet legal requirements. If you already have sufficient health and life insurance, you may find you do not need the extra coverage of a PAI. Always check with your personal policies to make sure you are sufficiently insured for rental cars.
There is also an option to sign up for Dollar's Fuel Purchase Option, but you should also decline this. Prepaid fuel programs are one of the car rental industry's biggest rip-offs.
How to Earn and Redeem Dollar Express Rewards
When you sign up for the Dollar Express program, you can designate and rank up to six travel rewards programs where you can automatically earn points from your Dollar car rentals. If you want your points to count toward free rentals at Dollar, make sure the first field says "Dollar Express Renter Rewards."
Other options include airline frequent flyer programs (Alaska Air, American, All Nippon, Delta, Emirates, Frontier, Gulf Airlines, Japan Airlines, Southwest and United) and the InterContinental Hotel Group's IHG Rewards.
Once signed up to Dollar Express, you earn one point per dollar spent on your base rental rate. Note that a qualifying rental is any rental in the U.S. or Canada that is not prepaid. That means you need to book the "Pay Later" rate.
You can redeem for free daily, weekly, or weekend rentals on cars ranging from compact to full-size. A free weekend rental day starts at 500 points.
Points my only be redeemed within the U.S. and Canada.
Why We're Lukewarm on Dollar Express
In general, we're not big fans of revenue-based programs like Dollar Rewards, since it takes so long to earn reward days. You need a minimum spend of $500 in rental cars before earning enough points for a rental day worth $20 or less.
But there's no harm in signing up, since the program is free and primarily designed as an express service. Also, if the renter is a member of the Express program, spouses and domestic partners can be added to the contract without an additional driver's fee.
Most major airport locations have dedicated Dollar Express counters and smaller outlets have at least a priority Express line. Some locations post your name on a board with a pre-assigned car in a designated parking stall. With the keys and contract waiting on your dashboard, you just need to hop in and show your license at the exit gate. Most neighborhood locations still require you to stop at a counter to take care of your paperwork, which can make the process take longer, especially if the office is busy.