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If you book a rental car with Avis, then take the extra step to enroll in the rental company’s Avis Preferred membership program. Avis Preferred is free to join, and as a member, you’ll earn Avis Preferred Points that can be used toward future rentals. Uniquely, you also have the option to earn miles and points with Avis’ travel partners in lieu of Avis Preferred Points. This means that you can earn currencies like Southwest Rapid Rewards points or World of Hyatt points instead if you'd like.
Plus, if you book enough rental cars with Avis to reach Avis Preferred Plus status, you’ll unlock even better benefits. These include complimentary upgrades (whenever available), a faster rate of rewards earning, and access to an exclusive phone number for reservations and customer service support.
This guide to Avis Preferred will tell you what you need to know about the program and how it could benefit your travels.
» Learn more: The best travel credit cards right now
Elite status tiers
The Avis Preferred loyalty program consists of two levels you can earn: Avis Preferred and Avis Preferred Plus. It’s free to become an Avis Preferred member, but it’ll take some effort to earn Plus.
If you’re new to renting with Avis, you’ll likely begin as an Avis Preferred member, the lower of the two status tiers. To join, simply register online — it’s a quick process that requires you hand over personal information like your name, address, driver’s license and credit card information, which is saved and auto-populates at checkout when you’re ready to rent.
Its perks include:
The ability to bypass the rental car counter.
The ability to earn Avis Preferred Points on qualifying Avis spend.
It’s not the most exciting of membership programs but considering it’s free to join, it’s hard to knock it. And don’t dismiss the timesaver that skipping the rental counter can be.
Avis Preferred Plus
Avis Preferred Plus is the higher of the two tiers of Avis’ rental car loyalty program. Its perks include:
A free, single car class upgrade upon availability.
The ability to earn additional bonus points on each rental.
Access to exclusive offers and promotional discounts.
How to become a Preferred Plus member
Avis Preferred members who complete 12 rentals or spend $5,000 on qualifying Avis purchases within a calendar year automatically earn Avis Preferred Plus status.
But here’s where it gets a tad confusing. There are actually two tiers of Preferred Plus status. You reach tier one of Preferred Plus status by completing the above. You reach tier two of Preferred Plus status by completing over twice as many rentals (25) or spending $7,000 on qualifying Avis purchases within a calendar year.
Reach the second tier and you’ll earn rewards points at an even faster rate.
President's Club and Chairman's Club
Just to add one more teeny layer of confusion to the mix: Avis actually has two additional status types, but they're invitation-only.
To join Avis’ President’s Club, you must also be a member of the luxury home exchange service Third Home. To participate in Third Home, you must own a luxury second home that meets the company’s expectations including quality of furnishing, finishes, location and value (it must be worth at least $500,000). From there, you’ll pay between $495 and $1,395 per stay with Third Home bookings.
Benefits of President’s Club status include:
Double upgrades, when available.
Guaranteed vehicle availability.
50% more Avis Preferred points for every dollar you spend.
Avis' Chairman's Club membership is a perk of participating in a vacation club called Exclusive Resorts. But good luck joining Exclusive Resorts, as the "exclusive" descriptor is no joke. There’s an initiation fee reportedly as high as $150,000, and that’s on top of the $1,395 you’ll pay every night you stay at one of its properties.
Benefits of Chairman’s Club status include:
Meet-and-greet service: Upon landing at any major U.S. or Canadian airport location, an Avis representative will escort you directly to your vehicle.
Guaranteed vehicle availability.
Complimentary car delivery if within 25 miles of a participating Avis location.
» Learn more: Credit cards that give you elite car rental perks
How to earn Avis Preferred Points
The more you spend with Avis, the higher your Preferred Points earnings rate. Here’s how it breaks down:
Avis Preferred Plus (Tier 1)
Avis Preferred Plus (Tier 2)
How to reach status tier
Available to any member who registers online and opts in to earn Preferred Points
Complete at least 12 rentals or $5,000 in qualifying spend within a calendar year
Complete at least 25 rentals or $7,000 in qualifying spend within a calendar year
Earnings rate per dollar spent on car rentals
Earnings rate per dollar spent on other products (e.g., GPS, satellite radio)
How many points you’d earn from $500 spent on car rentals
Here’s another bit of good news for customers: Every rental earns a minimum of 100 points. That means even a $50, one-day rental still nets 100 points (rather than just 50 had there not been that minimum).
How to redeem Avis Preferred Points
Avis Preferred Points can be redeemed for car rentals, upgrades or accessories like ski racks and booster seats. Their value roughly corresponds to the price to rent at the counter in cash.
With car rentals, Avis groups award bookings into levels based on ranges correlated to the standard daily cash rates. Depending on where in that range the cash price falls determines the points cost.
Points per day
Standard cash daily rate
Estimated value per point
Up to $50
Nerdwallet’s estimated value per point is based on the midpoint of the cash price range, except for Reward Level 1, where point value is based on a $50 cash rate.
The sweet spot here is to use your points for a vehicle that costs as close to $50 per day, without actually exceeding $50.
How to earn other travel rewards through your Avis car rental
Avis also gives you the option to earn miles and points with dozens of airline and hotel loyalty programs (you can choose one from the list) in lieu of earning Avis Preferred Points.
Maybe you’re trying to rack up Japan Airlines miles to fund airfare to the Tokyo Olympics. Perhaps you just don’t like the idea of tons of loyalty programs accounts with tiny balances, and would prefer accruing points into one account with a heftier balance.
If that’s you, it’s generally a better deal to opt out of earning Avis Preferred Points and instead opt in to earning travel partner miles or points. Though there’s no double-dipping; you can enroll in only one program at a time.
To do that, log in to your Avis Preferred account, click on the rewards tab and toggle between how you want to earn rewards. If you choose the travel partners option, select your airline or hotel from a dropdown and then input your membership number from that program to sync the two accounts.
However, you don’t necessarily earn airline miles at the same rate you earn Preferred points. Often, the value is much lower than had you chosen Avis Preferred Points. Further, the number of points earned is unique to each loyalty program.
Should you choose hotel and airline rewards over Avis Preferred Points?
In many cases, the decision to claim Avis Preferred Points versus other loyalty program rewards depends on the length of your rental and how much it costs per day.
Choosing points through, say, Southwest (which earns about $10 worth of points per rental) is usually better for a short rental of a compact car. On the flip side, choosing Avis points is typically more valuable for more expensive or longer rentals.
Say you’re renting a fancy sports car for a week that’s otherwise going to cost $1,000. You’d earn 1,000 Avis Preferred Points as a base-level member, or 1,500 points if you’re in Tier 2 of the Avis Preferred Plus program. Using a rough estimation of Avis Preferred Points at 5 cents each, you’d earn between $50 to $75 in value (depending on your status). That’s far more than the roughly $10 value you’d get in Southwest Rapid Rewards Points.
Everyone’s situation is different, but a quick calculation of the points you’d earn using our point valuations can give you a straightforward, quantitative answer. But travel rewards are about more than just numbers. Ask yourself how often you’ll really use Avis points. Even if $10 worth of Rapid Rewards points feels pitiful, that’s at least more useful if you’re already committed to building your Southwest account balance. Otherwise, you might earn $50 worth of Avis points that may collect (virtual) dust if you're not committed to renting from it again.
The bottom line
Is it worth joining the Avis Preferred loyalty program? Since the program is free to join and requires minimal effort, it’s almost always worth becoming a member if you place some value on earning travel rewards. Even if you don’t necessarily want to earn Avis Preferred points, you’ll still need to join in order to earn points toward other travel programs, like Alaska Airlines or Wyndham.
Don’t forget to stack your Avis Preferred rewards with credit card rewards, too. Many travel credit cards earn rewards at an elevated rate for rental car spending. Plus, some of the best credit cards for rental cars offer other benefits that can save big money on your next car rental, like trip cancellation insurance and car rental insurance.
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:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card