If you've received an AutoSlash quote recently, you may have seen Payless Car Rental ranked as a single star (on a five-star scale), and that's not a mistake. There's the class action lawsuit alleging that the company is effectively a racketeering organization. There's the fact that AvisBudget Group has written their Payless subsidiary gets the cars that no longer meet the standards of Avis or Budget (really). There are innumerable "customer service shortfalls", to be polite. Yet one-star Payless has a "club", Payless Perks. Every dictionary defines a perk as a benefit of some form; what could Payless truly provide customers other than potential headaches? 

We needed to get some information to help an AutoSlash user, so I filled my role as the team's guinea pig and joined the club a few months ago. Payless (the company) has consistently been underwhelming in the experience of the AutoSlash team, and the loyalty program reinforced our low expectations of the firm.    

Introducing Payless Perks

Payless Perks promises three benefits:

  • Instant Savings
  • Special Promotions
  • Faster Booking Process

You would think these would be easy milestones to obtain but we're talking about Payless.

  • Instant Savings -- the promised savings come with a cost; the "big savings" with Payless are for prepaid reservations. Payless' prepaid rates come with a cancellation penalty of at least $50. In our tests, AutoSlash was able to find cancellable, non-prepaid rates at the same price points
  • Special Promotions -- the only promotion I was offered so far this year was the Mother's Day promotion of "Up to" 20% off, which listed the exact same prepaid prices listed without the promotion. Given the class action lawsuit, we weren't completely surprised by a "promotion" that didn't offer any further discounts ... 
  • Faster Booking Process -- the Payless Perks program stores your name, e-mail address, mailing address, and date of birth. At the time of booking, the program fills in your name and e-mail address. So I guess that saves a few seconds of time. What does the program not store? Phone numbers, drivers license information, credit cards number, etc. Rent from Payless and you're standing in line for your rental car, just like every other Payless customer. The Payless Perks program also (curiously) allows a customer to change their own name and date of birth online -- most rental car companies worry about fraud and don't allow customers to make those changes in their profiles. Then again, Payless isn't usually the victim of fraud (the class action filing is really humorous to read).

Our Take

The review of the Payless Perks program is short. What does the program provide users? Just the option of prepaying for reservations at the same rate AutoSlash can help you book a cancellable reservation. That's a money-losing proposition given Payless' cancellation penalties.

Our advice to renters? "Just Say No". This is the first time AutoSlash has made a recommendation against using a loyalty program; Payless Perks truly meets zero criteria a renter would be seeking:  

  • Does the Payless Perks program give renters credit toward free days? Nope.
  • Does the Payless Perks program offer airline frequent flyer miles as a benefit? No.
  • Does the Payless Perks program provide discounts otherwise unavailable? Not in our tests.
  • Does the Payless Perks program allow users to bypass the counter? That's a negative Ghost Rider, the pattern is full.
  • Does the Payless Perks program treat renters to upgrades? Not per the rules.

We would provide some screen captures here, but Payless' Terms forbid doing so. We guess that's one way to limit knowledge of Payless' worthless loyalty program. If you really want to sign up for a loyaly program with the word Payless in the title, may we suggest the Payless Rewards program from Payless Shoes?

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