Category: Rental Cars

Rental Cars

Whether or not this is a fair assessment, rental cars are one area in the travel world where I have found no value with elite status. The reason for this is that your elite status only benefits you when you book through the company directly. While this isn’t that bizarre of a policy, the rate differentials between the companies themselves and third-party sites like Costco and Priceline are astounding! Using the same dates and details, a two-day weekend rental on Priceline cost $40 total; booking through the company directly cost $123 total.

My Wasted Status

Rental car agencies seem to have given up on the leisure traveler and instead go after business travelers whose companies are less concerned about the best deal and more interested in convenience. By holding the American Express Platinum card for instance, I am granted Elite status with National which allows me to walk down the Emerald Aisle and select a car when I arrive to the agency. The cost for this privilege? Over 3X what I would pay using a third party site.

My Favorite Third-Party Perks

While this is by no means an exhaustive list, we most frequently use Priceline which is specifically valuable as a mobile app offering deals not otherwise available online. Using the app, you can book and cancel reservations as often as you like without financial commitment or penalty. I will often book a rental car months in advance, only to re-book the same itinerary as I find cheaper rates (cancelling my previous one afterward) at no cost. It ensures that I am receiving the best deal by the time I rent. If you are feeling committal, their Express Deals offer even better rates if you’re willing to pay in full at the time of booking. The only downfall with Priceline is that the agencies will charge you a fee for any additional drivers on your reservation at the time of pickup. Alternatively, Costco offers rental cars at comparable discounted fares that include an additional driver on the reservation. To make this reservation however, you’ll need your computer and Costco card to be successful.

Insurance Coverage

When you rent a car, the sales person may try to trick you with the question: Basic or Premium Coverage? The answer, if applicable, is “I’m declining all coverage and will use my own insurance policy.” But there’s a couple of things to be aware of when making this decision. Namely, trucks are typically excluded; so if you’re renting a truck, grab the coverage. And if you’re being offered a free upgrade to a truck, decline it. The other hidden detail is the term “Loss of Use.” Rental car companies use this term to describe that if you wreck a vehicle, they will charge you for the loss of revenue they would have otherwise received from renting out that vehicle while it was in the repair shop. Sound hard to prove? It is – and you better believe they are coming after you for a handsome sum. By the way, your personal auto insurance policy doesn’t cover this either. So grab the basic coverage when in doubt, and let your auto insurance cover what the premium package offers instead.

Sapphire Reserve Benefit

We still carry the Chase Sapphire Reserve card despite the fact that we barely use it. However, what makes it special is that it offers PRIMARY auto insurance including Loss of Use coverage for the card holder when that card is used to pay for a rental car in full. The CSR card costs $150/year after easily obtained credits, and therefore this excellent coverage costs only $12.50/month. Depending on how often you rent, you may find this to be a significant discount on the same coverage sold by the agency. And because it is primary insurance, you do not need to involve your own insurance company in the event of an incident!

Cut to the Chase

When it comes to rental cars, I would advocate for using a third party app to book exactly what you want at a low rate rather than hoping you will score an upgrade on “base pricing” using elite status privileges. Nothing will give you more satisfaction and relief than knowing exactly what you are getting before you arrive to the front counter, and that you got it at the lowest possible rate.

Platinum or CSR? Why You May Choose Both.

Untitled-1

Choices

The American Express Platinum and the Chase Sapphire Reserve: These two cards are the power couple of the premium credit card world. Deciding which one is right for you can be tricky; so why not choose both?

I’m Not Crazy

While applying for not one, but two premium metal credit cards with a combined $1,000 annual fee may seem absurd to you, I’m here to provide you with the alternate narrative and tell you why we’ve decided to hold both cards in our wallet in 2018. Read on, and I will explain how $25/month will unlock a plethora of travel benefits for you and your loved ones this year.

Sign Up Bonuses

With the sign up bonuses offered by both cards, the rewards more than compensate you for the annual fees you incur in that first year. At the laziest redemption level, using points to purchase travel through the respective travel portals, you earn $1,350 from sign up bonuses in exchange for the $1,000 in annual fees; a $350 profit if you plan to travel this year.

Annual Fees vs. Credits

The American Express Platinum card carries a $550 annual fee, while offering $200 back in Uber credits and $200 back in airline incidentals. The Chase Sapphire Reserve card carries a $450 annual fee, while offering $300 back in travel credits. If you assume you will spend money with Uber or Uber Eats, the airlines and by traveling anyway, then each card only costs you $150.

Takeaway

For the two cards, it will cost you just $300/year, or $25/month, while affording you these benefits all year long:

What is the perk? How will I use it? Where did I earn it?
$200 worth of airline incidental reimbursements Lounge passes, in-flight food and beverage, baggage fees and seat upgrades
$200 worth of Uber /
Uber Eats reimbursements
Whether you need a ride, or want dinner delivered to you, you can use these credits to accomplish that
$300 worth of travel reimbursement The most generous of benefits: Travel includes airfare, hotels, taxis, etc.
Priority Pass Membership with up to two guests Great for Alaska Air and The Club Lounges
Priority Pass Membership with unlimited guests The Club Lounges…now with more friends!
Centurion Airport Lounge Access My favorite lounge in Las Vegas
Sky Club Airport Lounge Access when flying Delta My favorite lounge in Seattle
Primary Rental Car Insurance This can be better than your own auto policy with the $75K coverage including Loss of Use
10% back on airfare purchases 5X Points valued at $0.02 each
6.6% back on dining (restaurant, bar) purchases  3X Points valued at $0.022 each
6.6% back on travel (hotel, taxi) purchases  3X Points valued at $0.022 each
Boingo Wifi Membership Unlimited access to over a million WiFi hotspots
 SPG Gold Status Room upgrades and more with Sheraton, Westin and other SPG Hotel Brands
Marriott Gold Status Marriott honors SPG status so add them to your list of elite partners
Hilton Gold Status In case that wasn’t enough, you’ll also be covered at Hilton properties too
Trip Cancellation Insurance Up to $10,000 per trip
Baggage Delay Credit $100/day per bag
Trip Delay Credit  Up to $500 per ticket
Price Protection  Up to $500 per item

Referral Links

Well, what do you think? If you decide to apply for one or both cards, please use my referral link below to net me some bonus points in addition to the ones you’ll receive!

Click here to apply for the American Express Platinum Card and earn 60,000 points!