National Car Rental

Travelers benefit from National Car Rental’s Emerald Club and Loyalty Tier Extensions

Sponsored by National Car Rental

There were some odd, low points in my household during the first year of the pandemic that I’m only now able to laugh at.

One time was when I got mad at my brave, masked and gloved-for-protection husband for stopping at the car wash on his way home from picking up our curbside grocery order.

It wasn’t that our car didn’t need a cleaning – it did. And it wasn’t that the car wash was a dangerous place to go. It was the fact that after months of being stuck indoors and going nowhere, my husband enjoyed an excursion, while I had missed the chance for an ‘adventure.’

The marriage survived and over the past few months, we have cautiously traveled to more exciting destinations. We went on a short road trip and while I obsessed about how best to clean all the possible touchpoints, I doubt we did a thorough enough job.

The next two trips were farther from home, so, we rented cars. We rented first at a small airport in California and then at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Both rentals were with National Car Rental, and a few things stood out.

Service was top-notch. With our first rental, we were enjoying our adventure so much that we lost track of time. As we were debating squeezing in one more stop, we got a courtesy call from the National Car Rental counter agent who graciously adjusted our vehicle return date. It made all the difference on our first real trip since lockdown and reminded us that we’re a bit rusty on our travel planning and may need to relearn a few tips.

In addition, the cars were very clean, which gave me peace of mind. Before our trip, I was aware of cleaning protocols developed by National Car Rental and other companies in response to the pandemic, but I hadn’t experienced these programs firsthand.

Our rental cars from National Car Rental were cleaned and sanitized in places I’d never even thought to clean in my car such as the instrument panel and areas between the seats and doorjambs (I checked the list). There was also a disinfecting wipe provided, with instructions to use it only on the vehicle’s high-touch, hard non-porous surfaces.

Now, as I get ready to head out for more adventures, it’s reassuring to know that National Car Rental will continue prioritizing the safety of customers. Patsy Rey, Director of Loyalty for National Car Rental states, “At National, we never stop looking for ways to enhance cleanliness and safety. Each of our vehicles is thoroughly cleaned between every rental and backed with the Complete Clean Pledge. This includes washing, vacuuming, general wipe down and sanitizing with a disinfectant that meets leading health authority requirements, with particular attention to more than 20-plus high-touch points.”

For reference, and in case you want to try super cleaning your own car, those touchpoints are:

  • Key/key fob
  • Steering wheel
  • Steering column
  • Seat belts
  • Center console
  • Door interiors
  • Door pockets
  • Interior door handles
  • Exterior door handles
  • Seat pockets/seat surfaces
  • Areas between seats & consoles
  • Areas between seats & doorjambs
  • Cupholders/compartments
  • Instrument panel
  • Accessory panel/touchscreen
  • Rearview mirror/side mirrors
  • Visors/visor mirrors
  • Dashboard /vents
  • Gear stick /gear shift
  • Trunk release

As travel rebounds, and spring break and summer travel plans fall into place, the demand for rental car vehicles will no doubt increase. At times, it may be more difficult or more expensive than expected to reserve a rental car in certain cities. Rey offers the following advice:

“We recommend reserving your vehicle as early as possible and consider using the Emerald Club loyalty benefit of Emerald Reserve Service to reserve a specific car class…providing flexible travel dates can also help increase your options.”

In addition to its handy app, National Car Rental has numerous other tools that can make renting cars easier.

The Emerald Club loyalty program is free to join. Emerald Club members can bypass the counter and access National’s “Emerald Aisle,” a section where members select any vehicle, as long as they’ve reserved a midsize car. Emerald Club members also have access to benefits such as premier selection, priority services and Emerald Club Counter Service, which expedites the rental process.

Also, to acknowledge that the pandemic kept many travelers off the road, National has once again extended elite tiers and free days. Executive and Executive Elite tier status with an expiration date of February 28, 2022, were automatically extended to February 28, 2023. In addition, Emerald Club Free Days which had an expiration date of December 31, 2021, were extended to December 31, 2022.

When planning for your next adventure, I encourage you to join National Car Rental’s Emerald Club to make your car rental experience faster and more convenient.

This post is sponsored by National Car Rental

Testing National Car Rental’s Premier Selection

If you’re a member of National Car Rental’s loyalty program, the Emerald Club, you know that membership includes the time-saving perk of being able to bypass the counter and go directly to the “Emerald Aisle” to pick out your car if you’ve booked at least a mid-size car.

The options there are enticing, but back in 2013, National began been rolling out another quite tempting option: a “Premier Selection” section where renters can upgrade (for a fee, of course) to far more fancy cars from the likes of BMW, Audi, Cadillac, Lincoln and Maserati.

National Indulg

“Premier Selection” sections are now offered at 25 airport locations and, at National Car Rental’s invitation, I had the chance to test out the process of choosing this upgrade option in Seattle, at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and driving one of the cars around.

SEA-TAC Airport Rental Car Center has some great art.

SEA-TAC Airport Rental Car Center has some great art.

To be honest, as someone who drives an older, small car and who has had to deal with the aftermath of a small fender bender in a rental car, I was quite nervous about participating in the project.

But once I reconfirmed that my current credit card offers primary coverage on a rental car, I felt a bit better about it and booked a mid-size car for a day trip in my home-base of Seattle – in part to experience the airport’s still-new consolidated rental car center experience.

National Car Rental options

Here’s a report:

From airport to rental car center: A breeze! The wait for a bus from the terminal to the rental car center was less than 4 minutes and the ride there, less than ten minutes. Once in the door, the counters for all the rental car agencies are lined up along a wide corridor. There’s even a coffee stand there.

Getting the car: As an Emerald Club member, I could have gone straight to National’s lot and upgraded from the Premier Selection there, but I stopped to do my paperwork at the main counter. Customer agent Maribel checked me in for my mid-size car reservation and explained the Premier Selection option when she noticed my husband leafing through the binder with the pictures of cars available.

The Premier Selection cars aren’t even in the binder, she explained “You pick those out once you get downstairs.” She also said, even with the extra fees charged, the Premier Selection is very popular. “On the first day we had them available, we had one guy who rented a Corvette for the day and brought it back having driven 800 miles,” she said.

Once at the car selection aisle, another customer agent stepped in to help me choose my Premier Selection car. The choices: A Corvette, a BMW 7 Series, and a really big SUV. (I think it was a Maserati, but I got distracted by all the shiny cars…)

The upgrade price – right there on a little tag in the window – was $100 (it varies by vehicle) – and the customer service agent helping us out said the Premier Selection options get rented nearly every day.

The agent also said the Premier Selection cars get special treatment. “Only the managers can drive them in the lot and only a few employees are allowed to clean them,” she said.

That made me nervous again about renting one of these special cars, but we chose the BMW, got instructions on how to hook up the Bluetooth for tunes, and were off.

Into a driving rainstorm.

That wasn’t the most enjoyable way to test drive a fancy car, but it was a good way to experience the performance. Which was, as promised, excellent.

And being in stuck in highway traffic in a fancy BMW sure beats the same experience in my little Honda.

Returning the car: No special drop-off necessary. The person checking us in asked twice how we liked the car and ride. Was it because we didn’t put 800 miles on the BMW?

Here’s a list of airports where you can upgrade to a Premier Selection: Atlanta, Denver, Miami, San Francisco, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Chicago O’Hare, Seattle, Boston, Minneapolis, San Diego, Houston Intercontinental, Baltimore, Detroit, Philadelphia, Charlotte, Raleigh Durham, Portland, Nashville, St. Louis, Los Angeles and Orlando.

Please note: I partnered with National Car Rental on this project; all opinions/observations are my own.