Most major car rental companies allow you to choose from earning airline miles, hotel points or their loyalty points. I have never been a huge fan of earning car rental points because they generally expire after one year. In addition, I lost about 10,000 points when Budget decided to end their PerfectDrive program without notice. In order for you to earn the hotel points, some hotel requires you to book the hotel with your car rental. Booking hotels on a rental car site makes me nervous and complicates the points earning process. Hence the best practice is to choose airline miles as your reward on all your car rentals.
For every car rental day, major car rental companies will give you 50 airline miles. However, the car rental companies do not tell you upfront that they are passing on what they called “Frequent Flyer Service Charge” or “FF Surcharge” to the renters. This means you are paying US$0.50 per rental day to earn 50 airline miles, making each airline mile = $0.01. A penny per airline mile is not that bad value wise but there is a way to get around it.
To avoid paying the US$0.01 per airline mile surcharge on your next rental car, you should choose American Airline miles as your reward. Hertz and National Car Rental do not apply the Frequent Flyer Service charge or (FF Charge on your Hertz bill) if you select AA miles as your reward. For all other airline programs, Hertz and National will charge you US$0.50 per rental day.
Since we are talking about rental cars, I would like to pass along to my reader the following: National Car Rental is offering triple airline miles for car rentals from April 29 to June 25, 2009. Here’s a list of National’s airline partners. With the National triple mile offer which will give you 150 miles per rental day on most airlines, paying the US$0.50 per day is not so bad.