American Express and the US Travel Association are back with their annual Daily Getaways promotion, during which they offer several travel packages — this time with some competing rental car promotions. The exact offer changes every day, but there are some good deals. Fortunately they announce them in advance so you have some time to consider each offer before attempting to purchase it.
There are four important things to keep in mind when participating in Daily Getaways:
- Save 10% off the advertised price by paying with an American Express card.
- Each person can buy only one of each offer, but in the case of some offers, like hotel points, there may be multiple offers of different amounts. You can buy one of each.
- There is incredible demand for some offers, probably because we bloggers talk them up. Be ready to buy and click like crazy as the sale window opens each day at 10 AM (PT). If by chance your click goes through, it is held until you complete the purchase. If your click did not go through, try again as these purchases time out in about 10 minutes.
- Packages are rarely exactly what is advertised in the headline, and even after reading the fine print you may be able to use them for other purposes.
Rental Car Deals for 2014
For 2014, Daily Getaways is offering promotions from Hertz, Avis, and Alamo. In this post, I’ll break down which promotions offer the best value.
Alamo Car Rental (May 22nd)
Alamo has a basic promotion going on during the 1st week of Daily Getaways. For $25, you will get $50 off your rental. This can be a good promotion if you are just looking to rent a simple car for a day or two. The issue I have with it is that the fine print states that the discount comes off the base rate of the car instead of the total. This can be troublesome as some airports have cars that go for $12-$20/day plus taxes that are incredibly high. If you were to get a car that costs $20 per day, you would essentially just be getting a $20 discount and not the full $5o. You will have to find a car that costs either $25/day for two days or $50 for one day to maximize the discount. For that reason, I would pass on this Alamo deal.
Avis Car Rental (June 12th)
Avis has a great selection of cars, and their promotion in Daily Getaways is pretty lucrative. For $33, you can get one day of a rental car up to a premium category. This can be huge on some weekends or days where rental car prices are sky high. Given that it is only one day, most people might book for a few days and just discount the price of a day from their rental.
This promotion is better than Alamo because it includes most taxes and, in California, the total after using this coupon will be $10. Everywhere else should be $0. There are 650 of these coupons for sale. Do not buy these if you’re in a hurry as they will be mailed to you instead of sent by email. Also, if you plan to use this in the NYC area, it will not be valid.
Avis is also selling memberships to their coveted Chairmans Club for $1,115. There are a host of benefits available, including:
- Through July 31, 2015, enjoy streamlined travel and personalized service from the airport to your car and back with Meet-and-Greet service and Personal Return Valet service. An Avis representative will meet you and escort you directly to your waiting car and, on your return, he or she will take you right to your departure terminal.
- Making an unexpected trip? Don’t worry, Avis will always have a car for you, even if you don’t have a reservation. Avis provides exclusive service to Chairman’s Club members, including guaranteed car availability and complimentary upgrades (subject to availability) to the best car available when you reserve an intermediate-level car or higher.
- We’ll even deliver a car anywhere within 25 miles of participating Avis locations. It’s one of the most seamless and exclusive car rental experience available – and it’s only for Avis Chairman’s Club members. Thanks to a dedicated Avis Chairman’s Club desk and first-rate vehicles, you can always enjoy the ride with Chairman’s Club.
Usually, Avis doesn’t sell memberships to Chairmans Club, so I can see a lot of people that might be eyeing this particular deal. It is not for everyone but if you rent frequently and enjoy the host of amenities they have to offer, this might be up your alley. There will be 15 of these memberships up for grabs on the fourth week of the promotion.
Hertz Car Rental (May 20th)
Many of you already know that I am a fan of Hertz. Their frequent renter program is the most valuable and offers amazing redemption opportunities. In the past few months, Hertz also took delivery of some pretty cool cars like the BMW M5, M3, 6-Series and 3-Series.
Last year, I took full advantage of the Hertz Daily Getaway promotion by buying close to 45,000 points through three accounts. It is by far the most lucrative car rental promotion and can actually get you a ton of time in a rental car. I also managed to purchase Hertz Platinum to complement the points. By doing so, I have been able to get some really amazing upgrades to cars like the Cadillac CTS-V, Mercedes C63 AMG, Range Rover, Cadillac Escalade and more. While I will say that my experience was amazing while the points lasted, I do not rent from Hertz as much anymore as I used up my points for close to 18 weeks of car rentals.
The major benefit that isn’t advertised as much about this Daily Getaways promotion is that the deals advertised assume you redeem points at the STANDARD level. Hertz has two rental levels. The low level is exactly half and is good for almost every week in the year. In all of my redemptions with Hertz, never was I charged the full 5,500 weekly rate. Instead, I was able to book at the 2,750 level for weeks at a time and only paid the mandatory $10 California tax, so the points you purchase through Daily Getaways could go twice as far.
There are a few tricks to get better cars with Hertz and their points program. The first is the ability to book up to a premium level car at the saver 2,750 level. This can be beneficial as rates for premium cars are often in the $300-$500/week range. The second trick actually includes not adding in any coupon codes. I say this because using points will pay for your entire base rate. If you can get a higher base rate, the rental counter will usually let you get an upgrade for free. This means that if you book an intermediate car for $90/day, Hertz will cover that cost. In addition, the counter agent will only see the base rate until the contract is printed. This means that you have a higher chance of getting a free upgrade to a prestige vehicle or better!
When I used to do this, I would book full size cars at $115/day. I knew that Hertz would cover the base rate and I also knew that cars like the Mercedes E-Class were around $150/day. By going to the counter agent, I was able to use the high base rate to get close to the rate of the E-Class. This helped me upgrade for a small fee or often times, free.
If we do the math, a usual weekly rental with Hertz is around $250 with all taxes included. If we were to buy the first option for $280, 5,500 points would credit to our account. That is actually 2 weeks at the saver level or $500 worth of value. What’s better is that you pay $0 tax unless you rent from California. This first option can save you a ton of money from the beginning.
The second option for 13,200 points is $475. This will get you 4 weeks and a few days of a rental. At $250, that is a whopping $1000+ value!
The third and final option offers 16,500 points for $775. This will get you 6 weeks of rentals and is the best option. At $250 per week, it will get you a value of $1,500! Don’t forget to deduct an extra 10% if you use your American Express card to pay.
Clearly, these numbers are based off of weekly rentals. I never recommend using points to book anything above premium. Often times, they will upgrade you to nicer cars for free or a small fee. I also don’t recommend using points to book for anything under a week. The value proposition just isn’t there unless there is a sky high rate on rental cars for a daily rental. In that case, you should be using Avis and not Hertz.
Overall, I think that Hertz is the clear winner when it comes to choosing a rental car promotion. However, there are very limited amounts of redemptions. For Hertz, there will be 45 x $280, 35 x $475 and 50 x $775 options.