National Will No Longer Count Your Car Rental Towards Elite Status If You Earn Miles

I received an email from National Car Rental, and if you have an Emerald Club (their frequent rental club) membership you probably did too.

They’ve made changes. So the link in the email is going to take you to a summary of those changes, right?

No, you’re taken to a page that says the terms and conditions of renting from National have changed — effectively immediately (November 26th) and offering links to .pdfs in English and in French.

The English document is 44 pages. There is no executive summary, highlights of changes, or track changes. I haven’t done a full comparison of the old document to the new one. In fact, I’m not even sure hen I last combed through the old one (at one point or another I have actually read the full rental agreements for the major car rental companies).

However, Jenn K. points out that it appears they’ve changed the rules on which rentals count towards elite status in their program:

4. Qualifying Rentals: Members attain their Membership Level (described below) based upon the number of qualifying vehicle rentals. A “qualifying vehicle rental” is defined as the number of vehicle rentals with, or the number of days they rent, a vehicle from National Car Rental locations and all participating Enterprise Rent-A-Car brand locations in each calendar year in the fifty (50) US States, Puerto Rico, or Canada (“Rental Frequency Information”). A qualifying rental does not include … when a member chooses to receive mileage, credits or points for a frequent traveler program (such as, but not limited to, an airline frequent flyer or hotel points program)…

My understanding has been that you could earn miles or credits towards free car rentals (and National hasn’t been very generous with miles, so I’ve always opted for rental day credits) but not both. Regardless of which you chose, however, your rentals would count towards elite status.

The terms and conditions, however, say that if you choose to earn miles for your car rental, the rental will not count towards National’s elite status.

I do not like the policy, but what I dislike far more is not spelling out clearly what rule changes are being imposed without any notice rather than sending a mass email with a link to a .pdf that very few people will read.

And if you have to do something like this, maybe include a positive change — like, say, not insisting on my handing you my physical credit card at the checkout book every single time I rent from you (Avis manages to keep my card on file just fine, thank you very much, and doesn’t ask to see it each time I rent).

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, 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. Not sure why anyone would opt for the miles if they are even renting a few times/yr. The miles are paltry compared to the free days. I get a free day every 5 rentals through National now, not to mention other promos they offer.

  2. If you like your free miles, you can keep your free miles. Period. It’s all explained, somewhere, in this 3000 page document.

    It seems the epidemic is spreading faster than we anticipated…. 🙁

  3. The downward spiral continues..Soon there’s going to be no incentive whatsoever to remain “loyal” to any program.

  4. @Santastico, +1

    Also, I always take the airline points because “free” rental car days really are not free. If you normally use your credit card for car rental insurance, your “free” rental is not covered because you did not pay for the entire rental with your credit card. So then you have to buy the rental car company’s insurance, which is crazy expensive.

  5. @bmvaughn For me the miles are much more valuable than free days. I earn 600 miles for each rental so 5 rentals = 3000 miles. I value miles at 1.5 cents each so this gives me $45 in value. 1 free day after 5 rentals = $25 in value because I book all rentals through and average $20 day all in. So the miles are more than twice as valuable. Gary please keep selling Executive status for $49 because I won’t qualify in ’14 with this new policy.

  6. For some time now, when Avis runs a “rent X times, get a free rental” promotion, rentals which earn miles have not counted.

  7. It also looks like mid level elites can no longer redeem free days for anything larger than full size. I used to love using a free day on a caddy.

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