It’s now possible to book a rental car reservation through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal with different pick-up/drop-off locations.
This is a positive development for those “living the bank point lifestyle” since rentals were previously limited to returning at the same location. I’m not sure when this happened but here’s a blog post from December 2017 mentioning it.
The Chase Ultimate Rewards portal sometimes has favorable pricing for car rentals.
Since Chase Ultimate Rewards can be redeemed for 1.5 cents per point when you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve card this can make it compelling to pay for a rental car with Ultimate Rewards.
That said, even if they do have good pricing for an upcoming rental I’m hesitant to pay with Ultimate Rewards (or any bank point points) for the following reasons…
Keep These Things in Mind
In my [limited] experience when renting a car with Hertz paid with Ultimate Rewards:
- Cancelations within 3 days are subject to a fee
- Even if you provide Chase your Hertz Gold Plus Rewards number it doesn’t get associated with your reservation
- You have to stop at the counter even if you have Hertz status
- You will not earn Hertz points for the rental (which is painful since Hertz points can be very valuable)
- It’s unclear (to me anyway) whether the primary insurance coverage that comes with Chase cards conveys to rentals paid with points
- It can be difficult to find rentals at non-airport locations through the Chase portal
For these reasons I’m not a fan of using bank points for car rentals.
Let me know in the comments if your experience has been different?
Alternatives to Renting Cars with Bank Points
It’s tiring checking AAA, Costco, etc for the best rental rates. I’ve used AutoSlash in the past with mostly good results. Their model makes it easy to search a variety of discounts across car rental companies then track reservations for a better price.
Their model has changed in the past year and now reservations go through Priceline. I’m not crazy about this since I’d prefer to keep my reservation directly with the rental car company for the same reasons I don’t like booking through Chase. They say they can convey rental car company loyalty numbers and such but still – things can malfunction.
You can now book one-way rentals through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. This is nice since they sometimes have good rates and I like being able to pay for car rentals with Ultimate Rewards.
But the downsides associated with paying for car rentals with bank points are considerable. Depending on the rental scenario I may or may not be willing to overlook these issues.
The car rental puzzler is a unique one and the best methods seem to keep changing. Historically I’ve been a “book directly with Hertz, apply a AAA rate code and don’t look back” kind of guy. But I like to keep an eye out for better angles.
How are you playing the car rental game lately?