We talk a lot about the benefits of loyalty – particularly with airlines, and less so with Hotels. Point Hacks contributor Todd Heslin, who also wrote the Hertz Gold Status match guide, has written a complete guide for Hertz Gold Plus Rewards and Hertz car rentals for the points-savvy traveller.
Disclosure: Hertz is a Point Hacks sponsor during July & August.
When it comes to prestige cars, and those that turn heads — Todd’s an expert. In fact, there is so much opportunity to find your way into a prestige car this weekend, Todd started RideHacks – a site specifically helping his readers to discover unique driving experiences, getting the most value from prestige car rentals, and saving you the heartache of car rental insurance blunders.
This guide has been updated with the latest info about Hertz Gold Plus Rewards, version of his along with his own broader guide that Todd updated on RideHacks this month.
The quick version:
- Hertz Gold Plus Rewards is free to join, so if you’re considering a Hertz rental it’s worth signing up
- The program partners with a number of frequent flyer partners for points earn, or you can choose to earn points in Gold Plus Rewards for rental redemptions instead
- Hertz Gold Plus offers a few status tiers with different benefits, some of which can be attained through partner agreements with Velocity and the Amex Platinum Charge Card
This is the Ultimate Guide to Hertz Rentals for Australia and New Zealand. Who is the Hertz Gold Plus Rewards program for?
- Those who choose Hertz as #1 on their rental list.
- Business travellers whose employer has a relationship with Hertz.
- Someone who doesn’t own a car, or chooses to rent prestige and fun cars for special occasions.
- Those who want to earn points for extra rental benefits, free upgrades, and priority service.
- World travellers who intend on driving in many countries and want to credit all of their points to a single program.
Maybe your employer has a special relationship with Hertz and you are required to book car rentals through them, or perhaps your credit card offers you a discount on rentals, we’ll cover all of these cases and much, much more.
No matter why you’re here, I hope that you find this guide useful.
You can work your way down the entire guide or choose your own adventure and go straight to the section that will answer your question. We’ll continue updating this guide as the program changes.
The Hertz Fleet
When it comes to choosing a Hertz car in Australia, you two main categories and four Collections to choose from:
- Prestige Collection
- Adrenaline Collection
- Dream Collection
- Family Collection
In this guide, we’ll touch on each of the car types, although if you’re particularly interested in the Prestige, Adrenaline, or Dream Collections, you can read the RideHacks Hertz guide where I dive into more detail on these cars.
The Car/Sedan category holds the most basic and cheapest cars within the Hertz range. Expect to save dollars here. On the cheaper end there is the Toyota Yaris and Corolla and on the upper end you have a Holden Commodore — the V6, not the V8.
There are a wider variety of choices when you’re looking to rent an SUV, Minivan or 4×4. Starting from the Toyota RAV4, Nissan X-Trail or Qashqai, and upgrading to a Ford Territory, Toyota Kluger, Prado (5 or 7 seats) or Landcruiser.
For both of these categories, there are a few things to remember that don’t apply for the other Collections below:
- You aren’t guaranteed which car you’ll get
- If you have Hertz Gold Plus Rewards status, you might get upgraded
This is a good time to point out that you should apply for the free Hertz Gold Plus Rewards program. With a few rentals under your belt you’ll be finding regular upgrades (up to full-size class) on future rentals.
Given my focus on luxury and prestige car rentals, The Prestige Collection is the most common type of rental I review. Within this collection we have four car sizes to choose from:
One could say that I’m very well acquainted with the Hertz Prestige series. I’ve personally driven the current Audi A3, Q5 and Q7. I’ve also driven the Audi Q5 in the Hertz 24/7 on-demand fleet, see my review here. My favourite is the Audi Q5 which I recently (July 2016) rented to drive to and from Canberra in a day with minimal rest. After six hours of driving, the Q5 is my pick of the bunch.
In New Zealand you’ll find the Lexus ES300h Hybrid in the Prestige Collection.
As you can imagine, the price increases as you approach the larger vehicles, but usually not by as much as you might think. The bigger concern is price fluctuations and availability based on location. For example, the Audi Q7 and A4 are shown only to be available from airport locations. By contrast, there seems to always be availability of the Audi A3 and Q5 in city locations.
In speaking to a Hertz customer service agent recently, she shared that it’s best to call up to see the true availability and request these specific cars in the location of your choice. The website isn’t always accurate.
The Hertz Adrenaline Collection is the cheapest fun you will have across any car rental provider. Guaranteed. These cars aren’t necessarily the fastest in the rental industry, but they feel fast. To be specific, you have three choices:
- Ford Mustang V8 GT (RideHacks review)
- Renault Mégane RS Cup
- Toyota 86
First, the Mustang. I have so much to say about the Mustang. I suggest starting with reading my review on the Mustang and then booking it for yourself. I can’t imagine any driving enthusiast who wouldn’t have fun driving the Mustang GT. Would I ever buy one? Never. That’s why it’s the perfect rental car.
I rented out the Mégane for a day as a Father’s Day present for my dad. It only cost $119 for a day but was undoubtedly the most fun we’ve had driving along the back roads of the dairy-farming country of Jamberoo, NSW (two hours south of Sydney).
Although the Mégane is a powerful hot hatch, it’s the combination of a manual gearbox, rock-hard suspension and sticky Pirelli P-Zero tyres make it a real driver’s car. A word of warning: don’t expect a soft and comfortable ride. The suspension is built for performance, not comfort.
I’ve had two experiences of renting out the Porsche Cayman from the Dream Collection and I can honestly say that the Mégane feels like it is actually a faster car. Probably faster than the Ford Mustang too.
Keith — I’ve also rented the Toyota 86 from Hertz, which was a super-fun car for a couple of days of driving, and acceptable value for the $150 per day I paid.
As a guide, you’ll be able to get one of these cars for $100 to $150 per day with unlimited km. Or $200-$250 for the V8 Ford Mustang GT. If you have a good CDP discount code, you might be able to get the Mégane under $100 per day.
Finally, we have the Dream Collection. Unlike in the US and UK where they boast cars with serious sex appeal — Mercedes C63, Range Rover Sport, Porsche Cayenne, Mercedes SL500, Audi R8, Aston Martin DB9, and we have:
- Porsche Cayman (base model, not the Cayman S)
- Porsche Boxster (Brisbane Airport only)
The problem is that availability is tough – if not impossible at reasonably short notice. But you might be lucky. With this being said, I had two occasions when I scored the Hertz Porsche Cayman at the last minute.
The first was a booking last December before the Christmas rush. I received a call from Hertz a day after making the booking with the message that it wouldn’t be available on my requested day, but they had one available immediately if I wanted it.
The other occasion was on a business trip to Melbourne with Keith. We walked up to the Melbourne Airport Hertz office and asked for ‘that Porsche out the front’. ‘Twas a funny story you can read here.
I believe your best chance for this rental is calling up on a weekday, asking if they have one available, and requesting what price they can do for you. I ended up getting a deal that was not much more over $300 including all additional costs.
As a guide, you’re looking at a total price of about $370 to rent a Porsche from a city location and $440 to rent it from an airport with 150km included.
The Family Collection has a Kia Carnival for those times when you need eight seats.
The Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Loyalty Program
When it comes to loyalty programs, the current Hertz Gold Plus Rewards program is designed to best benefit customers who rent with Hertz often. In this case, you’ll get some nice benefits with little effort on your behalf.
I’m a member of several loyalty programs across airlines, hotels, and car rental providers. There are some that do it right, and others that fail miserably. Hertz fits somewhere in the middle.
Hertz Gold Plus Status
There are three status levels obtainable in the current Hertz Gold Plus Rewards loyalty program:
- Gold Plus Rewards
- Five star
- President’s Circle
It’s free to join and the primary benefit of joining is using the Hertz Gold Plus Rewards priority counter (not at all locations) and the airport priority board. The former has saved me once when I made a last minute booking and had a queue of tourists to contend with (read that review here).
As I’ll explain below, the points you earn don’t really have a lot of weight and availability can be hard to find. Don’t get too excited about your first level of status.
Your first upgrade will be to the Five Star status level. This happens after you make seven rentals or spend US$1,500 (~AU$2,100) within a year. Alternatively, you can use a status hack to be awarded this status by leveraging an Airline status.
So what do you get? One-car class upgrades are subject to availability and it only is up to a full-size car – not including the Prestige, Adrenaline or Dream Collections. You will also receive a few extra points per booking although as you will discover below, these points are nice to have but aren’t really worth collecting with great focus. On the other hand, they are a neat bonus if your employer requests you only use Hertz.
The highest elite status you will achieve with Hertz (in Australia) is called President’s Circle. You’ll need 20 rentals or $4,000 (~AU$5,400) over twelve months to reach this level.
The benefits can be nice if you rent a lot of standard cars, particularly for work.
However when your status is reached, you’ll receive 25% bonus points, but upgrades are limited up to full-size cars (no Collections) but you do have guaranteed vehicle availability.
Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Points
As with any loyalty program, you earn points to redeem for many anticipated joyful benefits. Whilst this is the way we would like it to work, there are three critical factors to consider when deciding if any points currency worth accumulating and ‘saving’ for a future redemption:
- How much does it cost to accumulate the points you need to fulfill your desired redemption?
- When you have the number of points you need, are there other availability constraints that make using the points difficult, or worse – intentionally complicated?
- Are there other ways to hack the system, where you can transfer points from other partnering programs, giving you an arbitrage opportunity?
On the first point, I’ve done the numbers to figure out that it will cost you roughly $3,000 of rentals to redeem a weekend rental worth $350. There are other options such as using the points on ‘economy rentals’ and you can find the full points redemption chart here, however my conclusion is this:
The best redemption opportunity for the Prestige collection is by taking a three-day weekend under a ‘Standard Award’ for 2550 points.
As the earn rate is 1 point per $USD, the current exchange rate means you’ll need to spend roughly $3,000 to earn enough points, and three weekend days within the Prestige Collection would otherwise cost $350-$450 without any discounts.
This is equivalent to an 11.5% discount ($3000 saves you $350) and whilst it isn’t anything to ignore, it doesn’t really shake the room. The downside is that availability is scarce and you may find that your points are unusable for a weekend that would be best suited for you.
In a recent discussion with Hertz, they mentioned that availability is not always right on the website so it’s best to call up and make your reward booking.
Hertz Frequent Flyer Program Partnerships
What if complimentary rentals aren’t your thing? You wouldn’t be alone. Sometimes it makes more sense to actually use car rentals as a way of boosting your earning capability with other points currencies.
The most obvious example is that you can earn three Virgin Velocity points for every $AUD you spend with Hertz. Back to our calculation above, instead of AU$3000 Hertz spend yielding you a $350 weekend rental, if you instead were to credit these points to Velocity (instead of Hertz Gold Plus) AND you used the American Express Platinum Velocity card, earning another two points per dollar, you would end up with 15,000 velocity points for the same rental spend.
Side note: when I called Amex to ask if booking through the Velocity website would in fact be considered ‘Virgin spend’ and yield 3 points per dollar. She said yes, but I haven’t yet confirmed this to be true or false. If this was the case, it would be a total of 6 points per dollar.
What does this roughly buy you? An economy ticket Sydney to Perth ($355 value), a business class ticket Sydney to Melbourne ($720 value), or if you save your points up you’re looking at 57,800 points for a business class ticket to Singapore from Sydney or Melbourne on Singapore Airlines ($3097 value).
How do the other programs compare?
Unfortunately Qantas Frequent Flyer announced in 2010 that Avis and Budget would be their exclusive earning partners, and Air New Zealand followed in 2011.
Emirates, Krisflyer and Asia Miles members all earn 500 points per booking, although Emirates also offer 1000 Skywards Miles on each Prestige Collection rental. From all the airlines, the best by far is Etihad offering 1,400 Guest Miles for Prestige Collection rentals and 825 Guest Miles for standard rentals
The primary difference here is that Hertz points and Velocity points are earned on the rental rate, excluding all fees, taxes, insurances etc. Whereas the other partners are fixed per booking. Therefore you may be better off doing 10 bookings for 14,000 Etihad Guest Miles instead of a single 10-day booking with Virgin Velocity. In particular, Airport bookings have high location surcharges.
Keep in mind that the valuation of these points should be considered in conjunction with the relevant award charts. To fly Sydney – Abu Dhabi on Etihad in economy will be 51,228 points and business class will set you back 96,827 points each way. Car rentals can definitely compliment a points strategy, however it shouldn’t be the centerpiece of your strategy.
The final points opportunity is that your credit card will classify Hertz as ‘Travel’ and some credit cards, particularly Amex, will credit you bonus points when booking with Hertz. This applies to the total spend, not just the base fee.
Other uses for Hertz Gold status
Putting aside the ‘official’ benefits of Hertz Gold Rewards status, what else could be achieved? There are two opportunities that I see for the Point Hacks community: personalised service and status matching.
Do the Hertz staff treat you better when you’re one of their ‘President’s Circle’ members? Based on my limited number of experiences since my upgrade, I’m not so certain. They treat you well, but not like the hotels or airlines.
A benefit when you have any Gold Plus status is their airport fast pickup service. When you get to certain locations like the airports, you should have your name on the board, keys in the car and can just drive away. In a perfect world anyway.
However, if they were to personalise their service and make you feel like you really belong with Hertz, this could be worth the loyalty. This would be similar to how airlines treat you when you’re travelling in First Class. That would be remarkable in the current state of the rental industry.
Hertz has a reasonable selection of cars, depending on your budget and travel requirements.
My overall opinion is that Hertz will continue to have a place in my rental schedule. They price their vehicles reasonably and have never caused me any heartaches. I’m hoping that their rewards program is overhauled with extra benefits for their prestige car fleet. Handing over my endless loyalty will require significant investment in their treatment for premium rental customers.
If the Toyota Camry doesn’t do it for you and you’re looking to get into an Audi or Porsche, click here to head over to RideHacks.