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Any reader of the AutoSlash blog knows that we actively encourage renters to be members of the loyalty programs of the rental car companies frequently used in that renter's travels, even if it's just to save time at the rental car counter. These programs range from effectively worthless (Payless) to just providing expedited service (Alamo and Budget) to providing expedited service and the opportunity to earn awards such as free rental days (Avis, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National, and Thrifty). The programs providing reward opportunities are those oriented to frequent renters.

The rental car companies have to then answer a question -- how frequent is frequent? The various rental car companies have derived different answers to this question but the implementation is the same. The rental car companies issue points or credits that expire -- after all, it's hard to claim that an individual is a frequent customer of a company if years pass without a transaction! The major differences between one company and others on these award points and credits are the timelines. 

While there is some variation among the rental car firms as to when their points or credits expire, simply renting from a preferred company multiple times per year means there's no chance of award points expiring. How do the rental car companies offering the possibility of earning free days stack up when it comes to the expiration of points? The time range for point expiration is fairly wide for inactive accounts, with points expiring in as little as 12 months with Avis while renters at Enterprise only have to give the company business once every three years! Five of the six companies allow extending points in perpetuity with qualifying activity, one company expires points after five years (regardless of the number of rentals), and one company has credits that never expire but issues award days that expire at the end of the following calendar year.  

Rental Car Company Breakdown

Among the major operators, only six of the nine companies - Avis, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National, and Thrifty - allow renters to earn points/credits toward free days. Sister companies Dollar, Hertz, and Thrifty have identical written policies while the remaining companies vary substantially.

Avis -- Avis has the most stringent requirement when it comes to frequent renter credits; a year of inactivity (no points earned or redeemed) and the points disappear. Yet there's also a subtle nuance with Avis that doesn't exist with the other firms -- even if a renter uses Avis annually, points will still expire if not redeemed within five years of being earned. Saving up over the long-term for an expensive Avis redemption could be counterproductive, as points might begin disappearing right as the needed number of points are accrued!

Do Avis Preferred Points expire?
Points will remain active for five years from when they were earned as long as the customer is active. Avis Preferred member is considered "Inactive" if, during a 12-month period…
the Avis Preferred member has not completed an eligible rental at a participating Avis location;
the Avis Preferred member has not earned or redeemed any Avis Preferred Points, or…
the Avis Preferred member's account has been cancelled.

Dollar -- Dollar's program mirrors parent company Hertz and sister company Thrifty on expiration with a requirement of activity every 24 months, with a proviso that the activity must be earning or redemption on a rental

Will my points expire?
Renter Rewards points do not expire as long as you have Dollar EXPRESS rental activity in the prior 24 months.  Activity means a Renter Reward point was either earned or redeemed on a rental.

Enterprise -- Enterprise has the least stringent requirement when it comes to the expiration of points, keeping points around in perpetuity as long as a renter earns points toward a rental at least once every three years. The AutoSlash team is glad to see the leniency in Enterprise's program, as most of our points come from promotions rather than actual rentals.

Will my points expire?
No, not as long as you remain an active renter. Each time you earn one or more points toward a qualifying rental, your points balance will remain intact for the following 36 months. In other words, as long as you earn points for a qualifying rental from Enterprise Plus program rental at least once every 36 months, your points won't expire.

Hertz -- Hertz's program is identical to that of subsidiary Dollar and Thrifty on expiration with a requirement of activity every 24 months, with a proviso that the activity must be earning or redemption on a rental. However, there is some evidence in the past that some -- but not all -- non-rental activities (such as promotions for updating contact information or redeeming for frequent flyer miles) have extended the 24-month clock. We don't recommend testing the time limits of Hertz's expiration policy!

Do my Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Points expire?
Points do not expire as long as you have a Hertz Gold Plus Rewards rental activity in the prior 24 months. Activity means a Gold Plus Rewards Point was either earned or redeemed on a rental.

National -- Our favorite redemption program because of the flexibility on awards (especially one-way rentals), National also has the most complicated policy. Earn credits toward an award day, and those credits don't expire per the program terms -- they roll over from one calendar year to the next as a new membership term. However, earn enough credits for an award day and the award day does expire on December 31 of the following calendar year.  

Validity of rental credits and Free Days: Rental credits remain valid so long as the Member retains membership in the Program. Free Days will expire on December 31 of the year following the year in which they were earned or immediately upon cancellation or termination of membership in the Program. For Members residing in Austria, Denmark and Germany: Rental credits remain valid only so long as such Member retains membership in the Program, but in no event less than 36 months starting from the day on which they were earned; Free Days will expire after 36 months starting from the day on which they were earned. 

Membership in the Program commences when Administrator confirms your enrollment ("Enrollment Date") and remains in effect until 11:59:59 p.m. Central Standard Time on December 31 of the following calendar year (the "Initial Term"). Thereafter, your membership in the Program shall be automatically renewed (each a "Renewal") for subsequent 12 months terms (each a "Renewal Term", and together with the Initial Term, the "Term") at 12:00:00 a.m. Central Standard Time on January 1 of the following calendar year (the "Renewal Date") provided: (a) you have not requested that Administrator terminate your enrollment in the Program prior to the applicable Renewal Date, and (b) Administrator has not decided not to renew your membership in the Program, in which case Administrator will inform you accordingly with two weeks' notice prior to the applicable Renewal Date. Each Renewal shall be subject to the then-current Agreement. Members residing in Argentina, Belgium, Chile, Costa Rica, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and UK must explicitly consent to the then-current Agreement for the Renewal to be effective. If such Member residing in any of the above-listed countries does not agree to the then-current Agreement, their membership cannot be renewed, and they will therefore be unable to continue renting a vehicle as an Emerald Club member and thereby earning rental credits under the Program.

Thrifty-- Thrifty's program mirrors parent company Hertz and sister company Dollar on expiration with a requirement of activity every 24 months, with a proviso that the activity must be earning or redemption on a rental.

Will my points expire?
Blue Chip Rewards points do not expire as long as you have Blue Chip rental activity in the prior 24 months. Activity means a Blue Chip Reward point was either earned or redeemed on a rental.

Our Take

The AutoSlash team most often uses the six firms that give us credits toward future rentals, ceteris paribus. In many cases, the cheapest possible rate happens to be with these companies, even though we would be willing to pay a few dollars more to get credits from a firm National! We also see other cases where renters can make an informed choice between options to earn credits toward more award days.

With any of the programs, renters should be cognizant of program expiration dates. Earn enough points and there's the ability to redeem free days (well, "free except taxes days") -- AutoSlash helps find the cheapest rates for paid days and the rental car companies themselves can chip in on future rentals through their award programs! 

 

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