The Guide to National Car Rental’s Emerald Club

Participating in National's loyalty program could earn you upgrades and free rental days.

Rand ShoafJun 28, 2021
Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

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.

An overview of National Emerald Club

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).

National Emerald Club 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, learn more about our favorite credit cards for rental cars.

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.


How to Maximize Your Rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:

Get more smart money moves – straight to your inbox
Sign up and we’ll send you Nerdy articles about the money topics that matter most to you along with other ways to help you get more from your money.