Easy Ways to Earn Free Car Rentals (2021)
Several car rental promotions let you easily earn free car rental days. These promotions are so good that they should often drive your rental car decision, rather than simply going for the best rate.
While you may pay a somewhat higher price to take advantage of these promotions, the extra benefits are often worth it. Most of the time, if you are taking advantage of one of these promotions, you’ll need to book using a special rate code. The rates associated with the promotion are often pretty good and will almost always be lower-than or equal-to the “standard” rate for the rental. However, it won’t necessarily be the lowest rate that you can find elsewhere. You always need to decide whether the value of the promotion is higher than any extra amount you need to pay to pay with the required rate code. (You can still usually add a coupon to the promotional rate.)
National One-Two-Free promotion
Every year in the Fall and Winter, National has historically run a promotion where you get a free car rental day after every two car rentals. This is on top of the normal credits you earn from their loyalty program. You just need to register for the promotion ahead of time.
The program is actually points-based, but two car rentals will earn enough points for the free day certificate. But you can also earn points from a number of additional activities, such as renting in specific regions or taking advantage of different rental options. The extra opportunities are somewhat targeted, so after you signup, you'll need to check your "dashboard".
This is a tremendous deal, especially if you are booking shorter rentals. Starting with the 2018 version, rentals need to be 2 nights long to qualify for the promotion. It is no longer possible to get a free rental day from a total of only two one-day rentals, but you can still earn one from only a total of four days. Official details.
Free Avis weekend rentals for Amex Platinum cardholders
If you have the Amex Platinum card, you can earn a free Avis weekend rental certificate by completing a total of two Avis rentals during the first half (Jan. 1 – June 30) and/or second half (July 1 – Dec. 31) of the year. You'll need to pay with your Platinum card and use the A756900 rate code (which tends to give you fairly good rates). But you might be able to find a lower rate elsewhere, so always check to see if it is worthwhile to take advantage of the promotion.</li>
The certificate can be used for 2 free days, on up to a full-size car, at locations in the United States (except Alaska and the NYC metro area). You can earn one certificate during every six-month promotional period. Official details.
Thousands of United points with Hertz rentals
United and Hertz often run promotions where you can earn thousands of United miles on a Hertz rental. The exact number of miles depends on the specific promotion and your United status. The current promotion is typically posted on the United website.
For example, you could receive up to 2,750 United miles for a car rental as short as a single day. If you value United miles at 1.2 cents each, you'd be getting $33 in rewards back. At a value of 1.5 cents per mile, you'd be earning $41. This could easily be more than the cost of making the rental. Too bad you can't earn any extra rewards on multi-day rentals.
Recently, the minimum rental length was increased to two days. There is not much of a possibility that the $35-40 worth of miles are more valuable than a two day rental, but it is still a nice bonus for a rental that you already needed to make.</li>
There are many other opportunities to earn thousands of frequent flyer miles from your car rentals or take advantage of other lucrative promotions. Sometimes, you earn a free rental certificate with only a few rentals. Sometimes, you can earn thousands of frequent flyer miles.
The best source we’ve found for learning about current frequent flyer promotions is the Frequent Flyer Bonuses website. If you want to take the time to optimize your car rentals, you should scan through lists of the current promotions and try to qualify for the best ones.
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