Rental car companies almost always have loyalty programs. Unlike airline or hotel loyalty programs, they may not save you much money, but they will save you something even more precious – your time.
If you have ever rented a car, you know how long the lines can be and how much time it takes to complete the rental transaction after you finally reach the counter. Why does the car rental process take so long?
First, there is an extensive rental contract to review. Car rental companies also typically want to you purchase additional insurance and try to “up sell” various plans. If you already have trip insurance that covers car rentals, you could save some time by declining all the coverage options that the car rental representative provides to you. If you are part of the car rental company’s loyalty program, you can also save time by saving your rental preferences within your online member portal, or within the car rental company’s smart phone app.
Second, there is often a discussion between the sales associate and the customer regarding car availability and prices. These discussions can take a long time and make the lines, already long during peak travel times, even longer. At very busy airports and at peak travel times, you may also have wait for a car to be washed and cleaned after the last driver dropped it off. This happens when there is a low ratio of available cars to waiting drivers, and the car rental companies have a tight turnaround time between reservations.
The solution? Many car rental companies, such as National, Avis and Hertz, allow members to bypass the counter and go directly to choose their vehicle in the garage, or to the vehicle set aside for the traveler based on the preferences entered in their reservation. This perk saves renters the most time. If you have already waited in line at airport security, at the terminal coffee shop and the baggage claim during your trip, it can be a relief to skip the last potential waiting-in-line experience of your journey.
The best part about most rental car company loyalty programs is that they are free. The time you will spend completing the sign-up process and entering your contact information, driver’s license information and other preferences in the online member portal or phone app to make a reservation in advance is worth it when compared to the potential wait you may face upon arrival.