Earn the Most Points Possible for Renting a Car

You can generally accrue in a rental car company’s points program (those companies that have one) or earn miles and not both.

Rental car companies generally pass on the taxes for miles awarded with your bill. And most rental car accrual offers are quite weak, such as 50-100 miles per day. In those cases I definitely take the rental car points or credits.

But when there are bonus offers at play, the miles can be the better deal than credit towards free rental days.

I used to credit my one-day Avis rentals to Virgin Atlantic for their 1000 mile minimum. Believe it or not there are good uses for Virgin’s points even though they’ve devalued tranfers to Hilton.

Back in the day of course you could earn 1700 bmi miles on a single Hertz rental, and bmi’s points were among the most valuable given their one-way awards with stopover on Star Alliance airlines and cash and points pricing.

Fortunately, Frequent Flyer Bonuses points out that you can still earn a 1000 mile minimum with SAS on 1-day Avis rentals. SAS doesn’t have the most attractive long haul premium cabin award chart for US-based members (and they add fuel surcharges to partner flights) but can be used to redeem quite reasonably for US-domestic travel on United and some other sweet spots.

I don’t find myself renting outside the Avis-Hertz-National triangle often, but it’s worth noting that Alamo offers 1000 American miles on a one-day rental.

On a 3-day Avis rental you can earn 9000 Club Carlson points.

There’s nothing out there that would cause me to rent a car just for the points but there are some reasonable accrual offers when you have to rent one anyway.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. If you collect Aeroplan points, there are some pretty big bonuses through Avis and Hertz of 5,000 miles per weekly rental or minimum 3 day rental depending on which rental company you choose.

  2. That Alamo link is showing 1000AA for a 3-day rental, not 1-day. Am I missing something?

  3. Personally, I like zalyn.com for car rentals/bonus research. They track the 1k miles opportunities, too.

  4. “There’s nothing out there that would cause me to rent a car just for the points”

    You have forgotten the US Grand Slam 2010 already!
    I have still got my Thrifty account from the rentals
    24$ for 20000 mile bonuses

  5. @ffi – I meant that there’s nothing out there currently — I rented cars just to rent them when you could do an avis rental for 9999 delta miles..

  6. Remember that you are really buying these airline points on a car rental due to the frequent flyer surcharge. But I think American has a very low surcharge and perhaps some hotels do not have one. Is there a list somewhere of what airlines/hotels don’t have a large surcharge?

  7. Not only does the Alamo offer require a 3 day rental instead of a 1 day rental, it also requires you to book thru the Alamo website.

    So to get a measly 1K devAAluation miles, you have to pay a hefty premium rental fee over the price you could get thru Costco. I have a 4 day Alamo rental thru Costco for $92 that would cost $122 thru the Alamo website. No thanks.

  8. This is only good if you actually get the points. Sorry, but I have had too many experiences where Avis refused to award my points, and used endless gobbledy-gook questions that clearly had no legitimate purpose except to keep from ever awarding my WN points.

  9. I’ve noticed the most airport locations, and some off-airport locations, charge a hefty fee for giving out points. Aside from bonuses, does it ever make sense to pay for those?

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