National Car Rental reached out to me this week to share news of their new Premier Selection — an opportunity to upgrade your next rental to one of several luxury vehicles. Think of it as an even better version of the Emerald Aisle. You pick a car you like, the keys are in the ignition, and you just show your credit card and driver license to the agent as you leave.
These luxury cars include options like Lincoln Navigator, Lexus IS250, and BMW 328i; exact models will vary. And they will cost as little as $25 a day! $25 and $50 will be the most common price points, with some cars at $75 depending on demand.
As you can see from these pictures, the Premier Selection is placed front and center so you will see your options as you pass by toward the Emerald Aisle. (If you’re not already a National elite, I recommend it. Book a mid-size rate and pick any full-size car from the Emerald Aisle when you arrive.) National doesn’t expect customers to select an upgrade on every trip, but it might make sense if you’re on a special vacation or visiting an important client.
I like that it’s a simple three-tiered pricing model on top of whatever rate you already booked. The upgrade price is advertised with a big tag in the window. If you scored a great daily rate of $20, you might be able to upgrade to a BMW 328i for just $45 per day. I’m renting with National next week in Boston. Maybe I can try it and report back.
I think National’s model is better than some programs where the rates are all over the place. By the time you go to pick up the car, who knows what the price will be? A luxury model could be $20 more or $100 more than the base model you reserved, and you have to talk to the agent to find out. Premier Selection is easier.
One thing I’m disappointed about is that the Premier Selection will not be tied into National’s Emerald Club loyalty program. Unlike some programs that look at revenue and award points, National just counts the number of individual rentals and awards credits for free days. It’s very binary. You won’t get bonus credits for upgrading to Premier Selection nor will you be able to redeem credits for a free upgrade.
Premier Selection has already been piloted at three National Car Rental locations in Phoenix, Minneapolis, and Cleveland and will roll out to a total of 25 airports by the end of 2013. Plans are to eventually have Premier Selection at all 62 locations with an Emerald Aisle. It’s unlikely you’ll see it at smaller locations without one. However, we did discuss the possibility that Premier Selection options might eventually be incorporated into National’s new mobile app, which lets you reserve a specific car in advance when no Emerald Aisle is available. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
For now, you can read the official press release, which included a list of some airports where you can expect to find the new Premier Selection later this year:
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
- Los Angeles International Airport
- Dallas/Ft. Worth Airport
- Denver International Airport
- Orlando International Airport
- Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
- Chicago O’Hare International Airport
- Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport
- Boston Logan International Airport
- Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
- Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
- Baltimore Washington International Airport
- Newark Liberty International Airport