Easy Giveaway: $1000 and National Car Rental Top Tier Elite Status!

National Car Rental has what I believe is the strongest promotion in the market each year, “One Two Free.”

You earn a free rental day for every two qualifying rentals (mid-size or larger for 2 days or longer). And when they run the promotion, they do so for long periods of time. The most current offer is for a five month stretch which concludes at the end of January.

I’ve been renting regularly from National for the past couple of years. The unique selling proposition to me isn’t the rewards, though I’ve earned plenty of free rental days. It’s the ‘Emerald Aisle’ where being a member of their Emerald Club program means you walk out to the lot, take your choice of cars from the designated row(s), and just get in and drive to the exit.

Sometimes I’ll take whatever is closest, other times an SUV when I want something larger, and occasionally I’ll get in a bunch of cars to look for the one with lowest miles and features I want. National calls it “speed, choice, and control.” I call it not having to go asking for something other than a Taurus.

As the current One Two Free promotion wraps up, National offered me the chance to interview one of their frequent renters and also give away status and gift cards. I jumped at the chance.

  • To be clear, I’m not taking anything from National for doing this — all of the prizes and benefits go to you, my readers.
  • I thought if they could put me in touch with someone to interview who rents much more frequently than I do, a minimum of 100 days a year, they could offer a really interesting perspective.

So here’s the giveaway:

  • (5) $200 gift cards
  • (5) National Emerald Club Executive Elite status upgrades.

There will be (5) prize winners, each to receive a $200 gift card and Executive Elite status. Not only do Executive Elites get to pick from the Executive aisle of higher category cars (as National Executive status allows) but they earn free rental days faster and in my experience are able to redeem those free rental days for premium vehicles.

All you need to do to enter is leave a comment on this post answering the question: what is the one thing that can make your car rental experience better?

Please enter only one time. This contest will run through January 19 at noon Eastern, and I will draw the winners with the assistance of random.org. All of my decisions are final.

Here’s the interview, so you can learn about car rentals from someone who rents more than I do

I had a great discussion with Bruce McNeal who rents well over a hundred times a year, and thought I’d ask how he thinks about his rentals and since he more or less lives in a car how he approaches making it as comfortable and easy as possible.

How often are you on the road, and what leads you to travel so much?

    I am on the road sometimes for 15 days a month. I am part of the store support team on a national retailer. I have locations in ten states.

Are you renting from the same locations over and over, or different locations?

    I fly to 4 or 5 airports and try to know the staff on the Aisle or at the rental counter at the airports. The rest of my rentals come from the great staff at the National located in Naperville, IL. I park my car at that location and drive to areas where I can visit 3 or 4 stores at a time.

How many of your rental days are through National?

    All my rentals are with National, when the Markham location was closed, I tried Hertz local and the cars were inconsistent. I also had an issue with the I Pass ( toll road auto pay)system that they had.

Why do you choose National as your primary rental company?

    Our corporation uses National as a primary car rental company, the special treatment as an Emerald Aisle member and other perks keep me coming back.

How do you book – do you have an assistant, do you book yourself, and if so online/phone/mobile app? Why?

    I book thru a corp. travel site, as required by my company. I used to book on`line and take advantage of the great discounts sent out from National. I do not have anyone assisting me.

When taking cars from the Emerald Aisle what do you look for in making your choice – specific vehicle type? Do you get in multiple cars and select based on features or look at mileage? In other words, do you take the first car to get out quickly or do you use the Aisle to be picky?

    The first thing is a personal matter; I have several family members that either are retired from American car manufactures or are currently working for one; I take great pride in “Buy American” whenever I can. I enjoy SUV’s in the winter when roads can become hazardous. Then I like the great looking cars( in my opinion) like the Chrysler 300. Currently I am crazy about the Ford Explorer especially when it is fully loaded and has satellite radio.

Do you take any accessories or optional items? Why or why not?

    When I am in an area that I do not know and not working, I take insurance, I pass on everything else.

How do you refuel – do you prepay, fill up the tank yourself, or just return the car without a fillup? Why?

    I always refill, the National in Naperville is part of an Enterprise location, so I return with the same amount of gas. The main reason why is that it is our policy not to prepay gas.

How do you use your free rental days? Business or leisure? How do you decide whether to pay out of pocket or use a free rental day?

    More often than not I attach the extra days to a rental when I intend to enjoy a weekend in or near a city that I am working in that week. There have been several times that I let my wife drive my car and use a rental car if her auto in in the shop for several days. I will pay for the rental instead of using free days, if there are great weekend rates in the discount coupons that National sends out. Why use a free day for a nineteen dollar rental?

Any other tips and tricks that my readers should know?

    Being nice goes a long way. There was an airport location, I befriended one of the Aisle attendants; I would call and they would find the best available car for me. Please be pleasant to the people working at the locations, they rent 100’s of cars daily and some things do not always fall together. Lastly a smile means a lot to everybody.

Thanks, Bruce!

Now, leave your comment on this post to enter to win a gift card and status! And take advantage of 1-2 Free while there’s still time!

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. Know this cannot be accomplished, but I hate it when I go to pick up a car and my visual inspection is severely hampered due to being in a covered building. The lighting is so horrid as to make it near impossible. But as to what the rental companies can do? — give us a map with some gas station options NEAR the airport would be most helpful. (with prices?) realize that could change on a daily basis, but maybe it could be on a bulletin board above the counter, so the customers could get a vague idea of which one might be best and where it is.

  2. I am happiest when my bonus hotel or airline points are credited — without having to chase them — after a car rental.

  3. not having to take a 45 minute shuttle from the airport to an off-site facility just to pick up a rental.

  4. I love national I only rent from them due to their emrald eisle which saves ton of time after a long flight.

    What I think could make thinks better is hhaving only cars equipped with GPS. XM radio would be nice as well.

    Thank you,

  5. a program that allows me to bypass lines in the terminal (or at the rental lot) and also has quick & easy returns.

  6. Bring a copy of your car insurance and your DRIVER’S License. Really bad when you get to the agency and realize you leave your license at home because your clean out your wallet of “extras” knowing you have your passport with you.

  7. I just wish it was cheaper, I hate renting cars but every time I do I gasp a bit at the price, even when you get a good deal I think it’s too pricey.

  8. My husband and I are planning our dream trip around the world. These prizes would definitely help us! Thanks for the chance.

  9. I enjoy the American Express premium emerald club deal because I love that National Car Rental at DEN is open 24/7 is good because I can rent a vehicle whenever I need an extra vehicle or put my vehicle in the shop. I like using the app to rent a vehicle and use Aisle service because I have many options to pick for myself and try many different vehicles. I also enjoy the partnership with other car rentals companies, I like to rent near my house so I don’t have to go all the way to the airport to enjoy national car rental. I always use my membership while I rent vehicles now, just one membership for national car rental and other rental companies that National car rental teamed up with.

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