What Is National Car Rental Emerald Club?

Participating in National's loyalty program could earn you upgrades and free rental days.
Rand Shoaf
By Rand Shoaf 
Updated
Edited by Bethany Walsh

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Enrolling in National Car Rental's Emerald Club loyalty program can help you save money and enjoy extra perks when you rent a car from the company.

Emerald Club is free to join, so becoming a member is a no-brainer — especially if you find yourself booking with National and wanting to enjoy extra savings, upgrades and more.

How does National Emerald Club work

Like other rental car loyalty programs, Emerald Club offers extra perks, such as upgrades and free rental days. The program is designed to give frequent renters special privileges to make their rental car experience go more smoothly overall.

If you care about savings, efficiency and convenience when renting cars, joining Emerald Club is a good first stop.

National Emerald Club elite status

The National Car Rental Emerald Club loyalty program consists of three elite status tiers. The lowest level is attained when you enroll in the program, and you have to rack up bookings to reach the higher levels. Here are the benefits members can expect at each level.

Emerald Club Status

When you join the National Emerald Club, you'll automatically enjoy Emerald Club’s entry-level tier — Emerald Club Status. The biggest perk is the ability to start earning free rental days. You earn one rental credit each time you make a qualifying rental, and once you accrue seven rental credits, you can redeem them for one free rental day.

Other notable perks include:

  • Emerald Aisle access. When renting in the U.S. and Canada, you can choose any car in the Emerald Aisle and only pay the midsize rental rate.

  • Earn free rental day credits when you rent through Enterprise.

  • No second driver fees.

  • Ability to conveniently drop off your car and leave. You’ll receive an emailed receipt.

  • A free one car class upgrade in the U.K., Ireland, France, Spain and Germany.

Emerald Club Executive Status

The program's mid-tier status, Emerald Club Executive Status, is earned by completing 12 paid rentals or 40 paid rental days in a calendar year. You’ll still earn one rental credit for each qualified car rental, but it only takes six credits for a free rental day, so they’ll accrue faster.

With Emerald Club Executive Status, you get these additional benefits:

  • Executive Area access: In the U.S. and Canada, you can choose any full-size and above car option in the Executive Area and only pay the midsize rate.

  • Guaranteed free upgrade when you rent at the midsize rate in the U.S. and Canada.

  • Your choice of reward type: free rental days, frequent flyer miles or hotel rewards (more on this later).

Emerald Club Executive Elite Status

When you complete 25 paid rentals or 85 paid rental days in a calendar year, you’ll be awarded Emerald Club Executive Elite Status. At this top-tier status level, you still earn one rental credit for each qualified car rental; however, it only takes five credits for a free rental day. Plus, you can use them to book any car class and there are no blackout dates.

Here are the other perks of Executive Elite Status:

  • A guaranteed car (up to full-size) when you book a midsize rate in the U.S. and Canada (must book at least 24 hours in advance).

  • Get your rental car delivered to most private airports within 50 miles of a rental center (U.S. and Canada only).

Airline and hotel partners

If you're more interested in racking up airline miles or hotel points than free rental days, Emerald Club members also have the option to earn with airline and hotel partners. Each time you make a qualifying car rental, you can choose to earn rewards at 13 airline partners and three hotel partners.

Airline partners

Here is a full list of National Emerald Club’s airline partners and what you’ll earn.

  • ANA: 50 credits per day (max 300).

  • Air China: 800 kilometers per rental.

  • Alaska Airlines: 50 miles per day.

  • American Airlines: 50 miles per day.

  • Asia Miles: 500 miles per rental.

  • Asiana Airlines: 500 miles per rental.

  • Delta Air Lines: 500 miles per rental.

  • Eva Air: 500 miles per rental.

  • Frontier: 50 miles per day (max 500).

  • Korean Air: 500 miles per rental.

  • Southwest Airlines: 600 miles per rental.

  • Sun Country: 600 miles per rental.

Hotel partners

Here is a full list of Emerald Club’s hotel partners and what you’ll earn.

Beware of surcharges

There’s one major caveat to earning airline miles and hotel points from National Emerald Club: You can expect to incur a surcharge, which varies by partner.

🤓Nerdy Tip

In some cases, choosing partner earnings can still be a winning proposition; however, with other partners, the surcharge outweighs the value that you could net from the miles or points earned.

How to redeem National Emerald Club points for max value

To maximize your free rental days, first understand exactly how they work. Depending on which elite status level you hold, it will cost between five to seven rental credits for one free rental day. Free rental days only cover the base rate and do not include taxes and fees.

In order to get the most from your credits, you'll want to redeem them in expensive rental areas or when base rates are higher than normal.

Should you purchase National Emerald Club program’s insurance plan?

When it comes to rental car insurance, having a credit card that offers primary car rental insurance is an excellent way to save money and still be covered in case the unexpected happens.

If you're in the market for a card that offers car rental insurance, here are a few to consider:

Cards with auto rental benefits
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
NerdWallet Rating
Apply now

on Chase's website

Chase United Airlines Mileage Plus Credit Card
United℠ Explorer Card
NerdWallet Rating
Apply now

on Chase's website

The Platinum Card® from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express
NerdWallet Rating
Apply now

on American Express' website

Rates & Fees
Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
NerdWallet Rating
Apply now

on Chase's website

Annual fee

$95.

$0 intro for the first year, then $95.

$695.

$550.

Rental car benefits

• Primary rental car coverage with reimbursement up to the cash value of most rental vehicles.

• Booking a car rental through Chase's travel portal earns 5 points per dollar spent.

• Redeeming points to book travel through Chase — including renting cars — gives you 25% more value per point.

• Primary rental car coverage that reimburses up to the cash value of most rental cars.

• Other day-of-travel benefits for United flyers include a free checked bag, priority boarding and lounge passes.

• Complimentary elite status with Avis, Hertz and National, which entitles the member to upgrades and discounts.

• Secondary rental car coverage.

• Other benefits include expansive airport lounge access and hundreds of dollars' worth of travel credits.

• Terms apply.

• Primary rental car coverage with reimbursement up to $75,000.

• Booking a car rental through Chase's travel portal earns 10 points per dollar spent.

• Redeeming points to book travel through Chase — including renting cars — gives you 50% more value per point.

• Cardholders eligible for special benefits from Avis, National and Silvercar.

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To learn more about our favorite credit cards for rental cars, click here.

Is joining the National Car Rental Emerald Club loyalty program worth it?

If you book car rentals with National, it’s worth enrolling in its free Emerald Club loyalty program. Being a member allows you to rack up free car rentals, score extra discounts, save time when picking up and dropping off your rental car, and potentially score car upgrades.

To view rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, see this page.

Insurance Benefit: Car Rental Loss & Damage Insurance

  • Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance can provide coverage up to $75,000 for theft of or damage to most rental vehicles when you use your eligible Card to reserve and pay for the entire eligible vehicle rental and decline the collision damage waiver or similar option offered by the Commercial Car Rental Company. This product provides secondary coverage and does not include liability coverage. Not all vehicle types or rentals are covered. Geographic restrictions apply.

  • Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply.

  • Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details.

  • Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. Car Rental Loss or Damage Coverage is offered through American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.


How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are some of the best travel credit cards of 2024:

Cards for Rental Cars from our Partners
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
5.0
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1x-5x

5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases.

Points

Intro offer

60,000

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Points
Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Reserve®
5.0
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1x-10x

Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Travel℠ immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Points

Intro offer

60,000

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Points
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
4.9
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

2x-10x

Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel, Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases.

Miles

Intro offer

75,000

Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

Miles
See more cards for rental cars
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