The Best Annual Rental Car Promotion is Back: National’s Free Day With Every 2 Two-Day Rentals

The best rental car promotion is back. National Car Rental offers ‘1-2-Free’ each year and 2015’s starts tomorrow.

You earn a free rental day for every two qualifying rentals (mid-size or larger for 2 days or longer) between now and the end of January — that’s more than a five month earning period. And of course it is on top of the usual credits earned.

Registration is required. And there are opportunities to earn points towards additional free days. Each qualifying rental earns 300 points, 600 points is a free rental day. Lots of small point activities, hard to earn the 300 points needed for a credit, so I won’t pick up an extra rental credit there.

Referring a friend is as good as a single qualifying rental (300 points). That you can do pretty easily. Although to earn the points the friend must not just register but also make a qualifying rental. You can earn 3000 total points this way.

I don’t generally do week long rentals, or rent from neighborhood locations (200). I do not plan to rent in Mexico (300 points), add fuel service (250 points), or rent a GPS (250 points).

I’m not going to rent in Europe (300 points) or the Caribbean (300 points). I don’t generally reserve a specific premium car class (“Emerald Reserve Service” for 25 points). Although there are easy ones like 25 points for visiting the ‘Drive Alliance’ site to learn about how National, Enterprise and Alamo are tied together. But 25 points doesn’t go very far.

I haven’t been able to register yet — the website just errors out for me, though I’m sure they’ll get that fixed — though apparently it is possible to register.

Perhaps you just need to be persistent.. or do what I will do, which is wait. And then I’ll earn, since I do tend to rent from National for their Emerald aisle.

Worth noting that free rental days earned via the 1-2-Free promotion are good for a full size car at best, regardless of elite status. Normally Executive Elite members can reserve premium cars on free days.

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. Gary, just a word of warning to your readers. This is exactly the type of free day that car rental insurance from your credit card (at least with respect to Visa Signature, have not asked MasterCard) — be it primary or secondary — will not cover.

    In this instance, you must take out the car rental insurance for the LDW/CDW if you wish to have piece of mind or hope that you don’t get into an accident so that they look to your own rental insurance to fill the void — and if you own auto policy does not cover car rentals — yes, there are with that type of language — then you are SOL.

  2. Gary, what credit cards would cover CDW on a rental car award. Like if you paid the taxes but redeemed with points or free day award?

  3. @Horace if something happens to your rental car while you’re out just pull the coupon code out of the booking, at least that’s my approach

  4. Second frustration —

    Survey = 50 points
    Website visit = 25 points
    Emerald Reserve = 25 points
    Virtual credentials = 50 points
    Mobile app download = 25 points
    Mobile app rental = 75 points
    TOTAL = 250 points. And everything else is earned in increments of 300.

    So basically you could do all that small stuff and get nowhere… no one thought this through.

  5. Gary — I don’t know what you are complaining about with respect to my posts, I find your blogs informative and was just commenting about a word or warning if you take advantage of this deal — which I still think is a good one — it was not a criticism that this was a bad deal or anything.

    As to your advice to take the “coupon code out of the booking,” well I frankly don’t know what to make of it.

    Even if one could do that, it’s clear that we all have different ethics.

  6. @Horace I only interpreted your comment “do you even read the comments” as a complaint, of course I do, but I’m not here 100% of the time. I appreciate your commenting. And I don’t see anything unethical about choosing not to redeem a coupon for a rental car where you’re charged at car return even if you had originally planned to do so.

  7. I’ve actually never “pulled” a coupon code after returning the car. Interesting. So, just thinking of the mechanics.

    1) You pull into the lot with a beat up car
    2) You get the receipt from the agent and start discussing the smashed up whatever

    Can the agent in the lot “pull” the coupon from their handheld thing-ie or do you have them print the receipt and bring it inside to remove the coupon?

    Thank you.

  8. @GARY — I now see your confusion as to my follow-up post!

    Unfortunately I did not list to whom I was responding — it was not you, it was poster Chris, who asked the very question I had tried to warn your readers about — it was not intended towards you.

    As to pulling coupon codes or changing them in mid-rental, etc.

    I will leave that for others to do, although the car rental companies certainly gouge you, I prefer to work within my own moral compass and that just is not me.

    Neither would I do what some have suggested — use a certain credit card for insurance coverage, but change it if another company may be having a special offer when using their card.

    For example, Sixt is running a credit with AMEX right now, but I would not use my Sapphire card for the rental in case their are any glitches or there is an accident, but then at the end of the rental switch the rental to my AMEX card … that smacks me as unethical, even though I personally would benefit from doing so.

    But, to each, his own………………

    In any event, the comment about not reading the post was not directed towards you, but your reader, Chris.

    Best regards,


  9. @mark well i’d probably call before returning to the lot to have it removed, then i’d have them remove it before printing the receipt… and no doubt need to go inside for that

  10. What if one uses one coupon for a 2 day rental which means one day is paid and one day is free? Is the car covered both days in that case?

    Or what if there are any charges not covered by the coupon? Is the car covered in that case?

  11. @AAEXPLAT — The best thing for you to do is contact your credit card issuer who likely will send you to Visa Sign, MC World, etc., who you can then pose the question.

    I spoke to them on a hypothetical situation wherein you see a offer from the car company of Rent 3 days get 1 free and they said they would cover it, but herein, no part of the rental is paid for by the card, so they likely will deny.

    The only entity that might cover this is if you have the AMEX Plat card, have taken out their premium insurance and pay $25 a pop for the rental — they MAY cover it, but certainly CALL THEM to make sure — and write the names, dates, titles and office as well as the substance of you conversation down in you do so. Better yet, get them to send you an e-mail of what understanding you have come to.

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