A while back now, United Airlines switched to Hertz as their exclusive rental car group and shortly thereafter rolled out some pretty nice targeted promotions – advertised as “up to 2,750” points and some out there have really taken advantage of it: especially this guy who earned 1.2 M United MileagePlus miles as of the end of April 2017. While like any “click-batey” link like the one above, there are always exceptions and unique circumstances. First and foremost, this guy runs his own award booking concierge business so he’s got a leg up on many of us. Secondly, his home is Las Vegas, where weekly rental prices can be as low as the equivalent of one day in another city.
Well, I’ve been a frequent ride-share user since the day Uber first launched in DC in 2011. Depending on where I am and what the prices are typically I’d jump around between Uber, Lyft, Via, Go-JEK, Grab, Kareem, etc – there were very few that offered me ways to maximize my spend. As always, I’d purchase gift cards on a third party platform (earning as many as 5 miles/points per dollar). Uber was always my preferred choice because of the amazing partnership with SPG where for a while you would earn SPG points (and 2x bonus if you were staying at an SPG property). Grab and Kareem do offer a loyalty program where you can earn reward points BTW…
Car Share vs. Renting a Car
Amid the development of #DeleteUber, the end of their SPG partnership, an overall increase in ride-share pricing and the above referenced post, I began to re-think how I could better maximize my overall ground transportation spend, based upon changing needs. Swapping out ride share for rental cars made total sense for client trips, but upon further research, I was surprised that renting a car for when I was home (ORD) could also be cheaper and easier than doing ride share depending on how long I would be home for and what rates were available. If I’m spending on average $40 per trip from airport to home or home to airport (and often as much as $60 per trip) it’s a no brainer!
The deal gets even better when you consider that Hertz offers Gold Status to any United Premier Gold/Platinum members and President’s Circle for United Premier 1K members. That means I get my choice of some pretty sweet luxury vehicles for the price of a mid-size thanks to complimentary upgrades. (For example, I’m currently driving a 2018 Cadillac XTS for $18/day this week…)
I know that I’m not the typical user, but if you’re reading this site, you too are either a remote worker, frequent traveler or looking to maximize ways to earn reward travel! Here’s the breakdown on bonus award earning:
The promotion ends May 31, 2018 but I wouldn’t be surprised if they come back with another version of this program. (In 2017 they brought back the bonus a week after the first one ended.) That said, if you are close to your goals for award travel, it might be worthwhile to take a look at renting a car (or two or five) to help you get there!
Miles Earned YTD Update
Update 8/28/18: I’ve earned a total of 121,000 MileagePlus miles YTD 2018. That’s twelve RT economy saver tickets (10k miles each) or four RT domestic business saver ticket and some change (25k each). Taking into consideration gas (don’t forget about the BP/United partnership) I’ve also decreased my total spend on ground transportation by 12% YTD (down 2% from last update due to some last minute booking errors) compared to what I was spending on ride-sharing last year.