In our humble opinion, the National Car Rental Emerald Club sets the gold standard for car rental loyalty programs. In this article we introduce readers to National Car Rental and their Emerald Club loyalty program. We explain how it works, how to sign up, get the most out of it and we do our darnedest to convince you that it’s the best rental car loyalty program in the game.
National Car Rental Emerald Club: best car rental loyalty program
In the following sections we examine the following:
- Overview of the National Car Rental – the company
- Why is National Car Rental Emerald Club the best car rental loyalty program (especially when compared to other companies)?
- Emerald Club Levels
- How to progress through the Emerald Club Levels
- Overview: National Car Rental – the company
- How to Sign up
Let’s dig in to the best car rental loyal club in business today.
Overview: National Car Rental – the company
National Car Rental is actually part of the Enterprise Holdings group which is the parent company of the 3 separate rental car firms: Enterprise, Alamo, and of course National.
You can actually read a fascinating case study about Enterprise and how they came to acquire Alamo and National in this interesting Harvard Business School case study.
Both Alamo and National were purchased around 2007 or so rounding out a rental car portfolio that appeals to a variety of different demographics and market segments.
National Car Rental is squarely targeting the frequent business travel demographic.
Why is National Car Rental Emerald Club the best car rental loyalty program (especially when compared to other companies)?
Before I dive into the nitty gritty about the National Car Rental Emerald Club I thought I’d start at the highest levels first and simply explain, in simple terms, why theirs is the best car rental loyalty program.
It’s simple really:
Less interaction with people.
You go faster.
Yup…that’s it. Their program is designed to minimize the amount of time I have to interact with people, wait in lines, and do stupid bureaucratic stuff that can be automated. This is PERFECT for the business traveler.
They also have a pretty compelling section of cars to rent including nicer, midsized Chrysler 300’s, Camaros, and Chargers. Always fun to drive!
If you look at other programs you are often still interacting with someone who’s giving you keys, or asking you which car you want. And those extra minutes add up. Especially when you’ve been traveling all day and just want to get to your hotel room. You do NOT want to interact with anyone. Or stand in a line (even if it’s only 2 deep). You just want your car and want to go.
National has this figured out. Which is why, in my opinion, they are THE best car rental loyalty program on the market today.
By the way, you might be interested in 9 Secret Rental Car Hacks You Need to Know
Emerald Club Levels
There are three levels in the National Car Rental Emerald Club, each with increasing levels of benefits for members. These levels are:
- Emerald Club Status
- Executive Elite
The table below provides an overview of the various benefits each level earns.
|Emerald Club||Executive||Executive Elite|
|Free Rental Days||1 credit for every rental; 7 credits = 1 free rental day||1 credit for every rental; 6 credits = 1 free rental day||1 credit for every rental; 5 credits = 1 free rental day|
|Emerald Aisle Access||X||X||X|
|Executive Area Access||X||X|
|Guaranteed Vehicle (24 hour notice)||X|
|Private Airport Delivery||X|
*Note there are a few other minor benefits I didn’t note. Things like no second driver fee which applies to all levels or the ability to earn National points when you rent via the other side of their business, Enterprise. Go here to view the full details of their program if you need.
Let me put some of these benefits in practical terms for you. As a business traveler you are always seeking to move fast, avoid delays and get where you are going without unnecessary stupidity. National’s rental car program literally solves that problem to a T.
In other words, you roll off the plane and go straight to a car of your choice…and drive away. No need to interact with any humans. Or get stuck with a crappy car that you didn’t want. At most you may have to show a driver’s license as you exit the lot. Doesn’t get much easier than that.
The major benefits renters experience moving from Executive to Executive Elite is access to much nicer cars. Occasionally you may be able to rent an Audi or Caddy.
And even though it may seem like the bennys are not that great for the basic Emerald Club level do not underestimate the power of not having to stand in line with the huddled masses to get your car. You can by pass all of that craziness….and walk to your car and go. Yay!
How to progress through the Emerald Club Levels
As with almost all loyalty programs it’s always about frequent and sustained use. Here’s how you progress through the levels:
- Emerald Club Status – simply sign up. No requirements beyond that.
- Executive – 12 annual rentals or 40 rental days
- Executive Elite – 25 annual rentals or 80 rental days
Note: National does occasionally negotiate with companies or travel programs that will automatically start an employee at a specific level. For example I have worked for companies that have started us directly at both Executive and Executive Elite status. A nice perk.
How to Sign up
Signing up is fairly straightforward. Of course, since you need a driver’s license (and need to be 25 in most cases or be subject to the “young renter” fee) to rent a car you will need to provide that information during sign up. You will also be required to show proof of insurance.
Here’s the link to sign up for the National Car Rental Emerald Club.
Some Rental Car Humor
Enjoy this hilarious video…and be thankful that National Car is so great.
A friendly word about Avis
Before we close this review of the National Car Rental Emerald Club we thought we’d take a moment and poke Avis (in good fun, of course). Here at the CBoardingGroup we never pass on an opportunity to poke the folks at Avis who, in our opinion, have no clue how to run a rental car company.
My current company has, for some reason, chosen to partner with Avis which means I am stuck renting from them…ugh! After each Avis rental I am asked to complete a survey which I do each time with this refrain:
“Be more like National”
In honor of our feelings about Avis please enjoy these rental car memes (all in good fun, of course):
Ok, that’s enough of that for now. 🙂
You can find more rental car memes – and travel memes / airport memes, etc, in our meme directories, here.
Closing Thoughts on the National Car Rental Emerald Club and why it is the best car rental loyalty program around
Speed & Efficiency.
If I had to summarize why National is the best car rental loyalty program with only one or two words I would use: Speed & Efficiency.
In most cases this is what a business traveler wants and that’s exactly what the National Car Rental Emerald Club delivers. They remain the pinnacle of business-class rental car companies and show no signs of slowing down.
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Over the past year, every time I need a rental National is much more costly than competitors. It is an absurd situation. They forced me to consider alternatives and golly, A company and S company rentals work fine.
I think National for forcing me to experiment, I had not wandered for years.
It might be that they changed the codes for discounts but I was not using anything complex, I used the discount for AMEX PLAT. Amazingly, when I logged out and reserved as a non member the price was the same or lower.
Maybe all of their recent success has allowed them to inch their prices up. But, I hear ya. Not ideal. At most of the companies I’ve worked for I didn’t really have a choice (or much of a choice) and we were not penalized for price differences unless they were dramatic (like more than 20.00 a day).
Some funny stuff.
How much do your sponsoring companies pay you for this stuff?* Not enough!
*Not a rhetorical question.