New Avis Warning About Discounts You May Not Be Eligible For

The very first legal nastygram this blog ever received – 17 years ago, if memory serves – was from Avis over posting a list of their discount codes. There was nothing wrong about such a posting, of course.

People have long used discount codes to reduce the cost of their car rentals. Some they may be eligible for, others that are for employees of specific companies or members of specific associations that they aren’t eligible for.

No one ever checks eligibility, until they do of course. Some codes are more likely to be checked than others. Avis is now warning everyone using a discount code that they’re going to be checked, including this message in reminder emails.

This reservation was made using a corporate AWD (Avis Worldwide Discount Code) that requires validation of eligibility. Please be prepared to produce your company ID, business card, or a recent email with the company’s email domain (e.g. @xyzcompany.com) for employment verification purposes when picking up your vehicle.

I doubt that actual practice on the ground is going to be much different. When you’ve got your Wizard Number in your reservation, most of the time your name will be on the board with an assigned space number. You won’t have anyone at a rental counter checking your discount eligibility.

However with rental prices sky high, and rental lots running low on cars, they don’t want to see revenue leakage. In normal times they may look the other way because they’re picking up incremental rentals they wouldn’t otherwise get, so why not take the money? But now they might have rented that car for more money, so at a corporate level they probably do want to crack down.

Hotels usually don’t ID corporate rates but sometimes do. I would be careful using law enforcement rates you aren’t eligible for, you might be prosecuted for impersonating an officer.

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. They require your USAA member number to search for cars using the USAA AWD. This has been going on for about 2-3 years. It’s quite annoying, as I don’t have my USAA number memorized. I’ve taken to just using Costco for car rentals, as it is usually cheaper than Avis/Budget even with the USAA AWD. Not worth the pain.

  2. Company badges often don’t have the name of the company.
    Business cards are out of style.

    One should not use discount codes unless qualified, but the warning from AVIS shows how back ass wards they are.

  3. A question Gary. In this day and age what happens if you reserve a car legitimately and it is not available at time of pickup? What are our rights and what are our options? I e never had a car rental agency ever run out of cars before but I hear it is a possibility these days.

  4. @Rusty – you’re entitled to a full refund of what you paid to reserve the car, which would be $0.

    Usually you can come back to the rental station the next day. Get the agency to reimburse your Uber/Lyft rides (to your hotel, etc.) before then.

  5. What company badge doesn’t have the name of the company on it? What’s the point of a badge without the company name?

  6. @Pierre
    Most badges don’t have a company name on it for security purposes; they are primarily used for access not identification. If a badge is lost, its useless since there is no way of knowing what company/location it provides access to.

  7. Most hotels and rental agencies don’t ever check corporate ID’s but there are some that do. I’d guess around 1%’ish. I’ve traveled for years under corporate rates that my companies provided (legit) and have been asked for ID a number of times, again maybe 1% of the time. It sounds like they may step up these efforts, however.

    Oh and some companies do in fact have ID badges without company names.

  8. Regarding badges with company name

    Some Federal agencies that either “don’t exist” or “don’t want others to know what agency you work for” have generic badges; colored, picture, your name. It operates the same as an access card but it is the badge for that agency. Ditto for some government contractors who provide badges for their employees in certain programs that look similar. So they do exist.

  9. If you are using a code that’s reserved for law enforcement or first responders, most companies have moved to using id.me to verify. Marriott has a code that works at certain properties, but other hotels and rental agencies have moved to id.me to verify people. Govx is a 3rd party site for military and first responders to buy apparel and rent cars, rooms, etc

  10. @Pierre, no there isn’t: there is literally zero difference between a company key card and badge. Unless you’re in the public sector, no company that I know of provides employees with the kind of “badges” you’re referring to.

  11. @Mike You don’t know of any so therefore they don’t exist? Gotcha! Thanks!

    Besides…the guy said the cards are NOT used for identification but access…hence an access card and not an ID badge.

  12. I have a nondescript fob that is used for the elevator and company front door. We don’t have business cards anymore. My name and picture is on the company website but I doubt anybody is going to ask to see that.

  13. Depending on the company, using their discount code for non-company travel may be prohibited. Ditto for government discount codes.

    I know for a while the government tried to claim FF miles belonged to them but most everyone ignored that and I think it changed a long time ago.

  14. Would love for people to update this with their experiences. I have a res next week and just got a reminder email with the disclaimer boldly at the top.

    You mentioning Wizard number and car being ready does not jive with reality in my experience. In my dozen or more rentals with Avis I can only remember twice that my car was like that. All the other times I had to go to the counter.

  15. I have a reservation in Fairbanks and they’re completely sold out of all cars. I can’t even see what the price would be if I get rejected but I don’t think they have a preferred board. I’d assume they’d let me at least keep the car I reserved if I get rejected but if anyone knows fs what would happen pls let me know

  16. Is Avis even a thing still?

    Clearly they don’t realize how easy it is to mock up an email domain…

  17. @Robert does that work? If so can I print it off and just hand it to them or do I need to try to get it on my phone?

  18. Gary: this is a grenade that you’ve rolled out here, I hope you follow up and clarify. I made my reservations for this month before 6/17 and didn’t received this notice; as I look at my reservations in my account online there’s no alert that I need to do this.

    There are many kinds of AWDs. Some include not only discounts but insurance and other perks and are meant for employees travelling on company business. Other AWDs are for leisure travel only and mostly only offer a negotiated rate. Are both getting the eye or just the former? Scrutiny on the former is way overdue as there are legal issues at stake for someone, say, renting a car with insurance that they are not entitled to and getting in an accident.

    But I’m traveling shortly on a leisure AWD to which I’m entitled as a non-management employee. My AWD has been in my preferred profile for over decade, maybe I was challenged the first time I rented with it once upon a time? I don’t remember it happening since.

    As a non-management employee I am not issued a company email, company ID, or security badge. I also don’t carry proof of my employment with me when on vacation.

    I hope you reach out to AVIS for clarification on this. Travel now is stressful enough.

  19. Avis is definitely asking at the desk and sending a rental reminder that includes the message Gary posted above.
    I’m curious if they are actually working with the corps to validate employees. I’m not sure if this is just a strategy to deter people for using them.
    As Gary says though it would be fraud to use a code for a company you are not employed at.

  20. I recently had a situation where they indeed asked to see my company ID. This was not an AVIS at the airport though because I never go to a desk in that situation. I was lucky because I do not normally travel with my company ID as most of my trips are personal but I do get a corporate discount regardless if it’s a working trip or not.

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