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United Goes All in on Hertz

SmarterTravel

Today, members of United’s MileagePlus program can earn miles when renting cars with eight rental-car companies: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Hertz, National, Sixt, and Thrifty.

Beginning on November 1, that list will be pared to three: Hertz, Dollar, and Thrifty. (Dollar and Thrifty are both owned by the Hertz Corporation.)

The newly exclusive relationship will be especially beneficial for those renting from Hertz, who will earn United miles at the following rates:

  • General members – 500 miles per rental
  • United MileagePlus credit card holders – 750 miles per rental
  • Silver and Gold members – 1,000 miles per rental
  • Platinum, 1K, and Global Services members – 1,250 miles per rental

That’s a significant improvement over the current rate of 75 miles per rental.

Rentals from Dollar and Thrifty will continue to earn a paltry 50 miles per day for rentals of one to four days, and 500 miles for rentals five days or longer.

The relationship will be enhanced further from January 1, 2015, when MileagePlus elites will be offered complimentary elite status in the Hertz Gold Plus Rewards program, as follows:

  • Premier, 1K, and Global Services members, plus MileagePlus Club and Presidential Plus Card holders receive Hertz President’s Circle status.
  • Silver and Gold United elites receive Hertz Five Star status.

According to United, “We are investing in partnerships that offer our customers a higher level of service throughout their travel from the start of their travel to their final destination.” Indeed, the special relationship is akin to the deep marketing relationship United established last year with Marriott.

For travelers, such focused relationships are a trade-off. On the upside, doing business with the preferred partners is more rewarding. On the downside, travelers have fewer options for earning loyalty-program benefits. As options go, however, Hertz and Marriott are both global brands with a presence in most destinations likely to be on any traveler’s itinerary. And that’s all you can do to limit the downside.

United might be on to something here.

Reader Reality Check

Does United’s preferred marketing relationships with Marriott and Hertz make MileagePlus a more or less attractive program for you?

This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.

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