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Choose AA airline miles for rental car rewards to avoid FF surcharges

by Captain G on Apr.28, 2009, under Rental Cars

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.

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Rental car companies making one way rental expensive with dropoff charges

by Captain G on Apr.12, 2009, under Rental Cars

Car rental companies are eliminating flexible one way car rental returns. Major car rental companies like Avis, Hertz and National used to treat a Metro area as one car rental facility. With corporate and leisure rates, customers used to be able to rent from one metro area and return to another - i.e., rent at SFO and return at SJO. As recent as January 2009, I rented a car from National at LAX and returned the car at SNA without penalty.

Since March of 2009, I began to realize the major car rental companies are charging their customers for returning to a different car rental facility. I was looking to rent a car from Hertz or National at Burbank airport and returning the car to LAX and noticed extra charges for dropping the car off at a different location. National Car Rental adds a drop off charge with unlimited miles while Hertz charges a standard daily rental rate plus $0.30 per mile.

There are however exceptions on the east coast. Due to the competitive nature of the one way rentals in the greater New York area, you can still get good rates when you rent from NYC and return it to New Jersey/Newark. I have also rented from downtown Philadelphia and returned the car to PHL without any penalties or extra mileage charge.

I recommend you read the fine print of the car rental quote before you commit to the contract. Flexible return policies are out the window in this tough economy.

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One-way car rental between Newark and NYC from Avis

by Captain G on Mar.26, 2009, under Rental Cars

Let me preface this post by telling everyone that I really despise Avis for its poor customer service. I have not rented from Avis in over 10 years due to a really horrible experience at Newark Liberty International (EWR). Ironically this post is about renting from Avis’s Newark facility. I won’t get into the details on my horrible experience; I will save it for another post… Given the latest Avis offer, I may actually consider going back to them to give it a go.

As one of the options to go from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to NYC, I used to recommend National Car Rental with their one-way rental program. However, National Car Rental has ended its one-way car rental offer between Newark and NYC for $25 a day – which was an awesome deal. Avis has recently picked up the one-way car rental promotion. This means you can rent an Avis car from Newark Liberty International (EWR) and drop it off in New York City for $25 plus taxes or rent the car from an Avis location in NYC and return it to EWR. Here’s the link to reserve at Avis. You can also call Avis and mention AWD #K462601.

The Avis offer only works if you’re going from EWR to NYC on Thursday or Friday and from NYC to EWR on Sunday or Monday. The reason for this offer is Avis needs to get its cars from EWR to NYC for the weekend rentals. As a renter, you’re essentially doing the driving for Avis.

You should also be aware of the following restrictions:

  • One-way rental from EWR to NYC can only be picked up from Thursday after 1PM to Friday 10PM and it must be dropped off by Friday.
  • One-way rental from NYC to EWR can only be picked up from Sunday after 3PM to Monday 10PM. The car must be dropped off by mid-night on Monday.

Also read the fine prints from the link.

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