Update: The Enhanced Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN has exciting new benefits, and a great new limited time offer. Learn more about the current offer here.
Update: This offer for Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® is expired, but there’s currently an opportunity to earn 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 within first 90 days of having the card. Learn more about the special offer here.
National Emerald Club is back with their most lucrative promotion, One Two Free.
The promotion is valid for rentals between August 25, 2016, and January 31, 2017. Registration is required prior to the first rental in order to qualify.
Through this promotion you earn a free one day rental after every two rentals in the US of a midsize or larger car lasting at least two days. There’s no limit to the number of free rentals you can earn.
Maximizing One Two Free
I personally find it borderline-bizarre that National runs a single promotion for nearly half the year. Compared with hotel promos, which generally run several times a year for a few months (at most), or the ever-diminishing airline promotions, it’s interesting to see something that lasts for six months at a time.
Not like that’s a bad thing, I just find it fascinating, and it provides some great opportunities. My typical strategy is to pay for rentals during One Two Free, and then use the free days in the other half of the year.
It can also make sense to accrue rentals in cheap markets, and redeem in expensive markets, but as almost all of my car rentals are for one-way drives between San Diego and LAX that doesn’t really apply to me.
Unlike the standard rewards program, One Two Free is points-based, whereby certain activities earn points. These range from booking through the mobile app or referring a friend to earning points on each rental. You still earn rental credits as you typically would, so this is above and beyond your standard points-earning.
Each qualifying rental earns 300 points, and each time you reach 600 points, you will be awarded a Free Rental Day coupon. There are lots of other ways to earn points as well:
Perks of National Emerald Club
If you haven’t used Emerald Club in the past, the main benefit worth knowing is that you go directly to the car at most airports. You choose whatever car you like in your designated zone, and then present your credentials at the exit to the parking lot.
If you’ve ever stood at a rental counter during a popular time you can probably appreciate what a huge timesaver this is, and it’s definitely worth the few minutes it takes to sign up.
You also accrue credits towards free rentals, and as the program has expanded to more markets this becomes more valuable. Really I just like not having to wait in queues to pick up keys to a rental car though.
Shortcuts To Emerald Club Status
National Emerald Club offers a status match program, which is an easy way to attain Executive or Executive Elite status. This gets you better cars, and a better earning rate on your rentals.
- Hertz Gold Five Star, Avis First, and US Airways Chairman’s and Platinum Preferred are all eligible for Emerald Club Executive status
- Hertz Gold President’s Circle and Avis President’s and Chairman’s Club members can be matched to Emerald Club Executive Elite status
Alternatively, a few credit cards offer elite status as cardholder perks.
WorldElite Mastercard holders can receive automatic Emerald Club Executive status. Those cards include:
- Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®
- Citi Prestige® Card
- Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard®
The American Express Platinum cards also offer the option to enroll online, or you can call the number on the back of your card to activate Emerald Club Executive status. This includes all the Amex Platinum cards, and authorized users should be eligible as well:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Mercedes Benz Platinum Card from American Express
- The Enhanced Business Platinum® Card from American Express
The new Chase Sapphire Reserve supposedly offers some National benefits as well, but I’m not 100% positive as to how that is working in practice.
This is old news for those of you who frequently rent cars, but it can be a compelling promotion for many people. Given that National is offering several ways to earn points outside of rentals, there are some good opportunities to maximize One Two Free.
Does anyone else look forward to One Two Free? How do you maximize the promo?