One Two Free Promotion by National Car Rental Returns: A Closer Look

This is a 2014 Ford Escape Titanium rented from National Car Rental. Photograph by FlyerTalk member KevinMD. Click on the photograph for a ride and road trip report written by KevinMD.

National Car Rental is once again offering its popular One Two Free promotion to members of the Emerald Club frequent renter loyalty program where you can earn a “free” rental day certificate for every two qualifying car rentals completed through January 31, 2014 — and you must first register for this promotion.

However, this year is a little different in several ways:

  • National Car Rental started the promotion a couple of weeks later than usual in recent years
  • A point system is now being used where “free” rental day certificates are not just earned by renting a car, but also by what are called “bonus opportunities” — more on that in a moment
  • You now need to refer two friends to earn a “free” rental day certificate; whereas in the past only one successful referral was required

 

I placed quotation marks around the word “free” because — unlike in the earlier years, where you simply submitted your certificate to the agent at the car rental counter and did not have to pay a single penny for your car rental for that day — you are responsible to pay taxes, surcharges imposed or authorized by the government, license recoupment, air tax recovery, concession recoupment fees, airport and airport facility fees, fuel, one-way rental charge, additional driver fee, or optional items.

Then again, I suppose…

One Two Taxes Surcharges Imposed or Authorized by the Government License Recoupment Air Tax Recovery Concession Recoupment Fees Airport and Airport Facility Fees Fuel One-Way Rental Charge Additional Driver Fee or Optional Items

…might be slightly too long and bulky of a name for this promotion. Perhaps it should be called One Two “Free” instead.

I miss those days of truly free days of car rentals — but then again, there was a time when frequent flier loyalty program miles were redeemed for flights which did not cost a penny; and frequent guest loyalty program points were redeemed for rooms which did not cost a penny.

However, I digress.

Unlike in the past when you simply needed two qualifying car rentals completed to earn a “free” rental day certificate, this year you must earn 600 points. Technically, the requirement has not changed, as you earn 300 points per rental day, so two rental days equal 600 points — but the point system was introduced in order to entice members of the Emerald Club frequent renter loyalty program to conduct other activities towards “free” rental days. For example, here are the bonus opportunities which I received after registering for this promotion:

  • Download a software application program for your mobile electronic device to earn a one-time bonus of 25 points
  • Reserve your car using that aforementioned software application program for your mobile electronic device to earn a bonus of 75 points each time
  • Earn a bonus of 300 points when you refer a friend and he or she enrolls and rents in the One Two Free promotion, up to a maximum of ten friends to earn up to a maximum of 3,000 bonus points
  • Earn a one-time bonus of 50 points when you sign up for e-mail messages from Emerald Club
  • Update your profile to receive your next membership kit electronically and earn a one-time bonus of 50 points
  • Visit the official Internet web site of Drive Alliance and earn a one-time bonus of 25 points
  • Access the Emerald Reserve Service to reserve a specific car class and earn a one-time bonus of 25 points
  • Connect your One Two Free and facebook accounts and earn a one-time bonus of 50 points

 

If you know me by now, you know I will not be taking advantage of that last bonus opportunity due to my aversion to facebook…

…but it appears as though that the bonus opportunities may be targeted to different individual members of the Emerald Club frequent renter loyalty program, as FlyerTalk member KevinMD has an offer to earn 200 points every time he rents a vehicle from Enterprise Rent-A-Car — the maximum is three rentals for a total of 600 points, which is enough to earn a “free” rental day certificate — instead of an offer to update his profile to receive his next membership kit electronically and earn a one-time bonus of 50 points.

I am renting from Enterprise Rent-A-Car in the near future because I am renting from a location near where I am based instead of at a major airport, and there is no National Car Rental location convenient to me. Although I will still earn points towards “free” days of renting a car which are not earned through the One Two Free promotion, I could really have used that bonus opportunity and am disappointed that I did not receive it…

…and no, I am unable to take advantage of the special $9.00 weekend rate offered by Enterprise Rent-A-Car — but theoretically, you can earn a “free” rental day certificate for as little as $27.00 plus taxes and fees with this special rate. As FlyerTalk member dwbf11 — who is also an ambassador of the National forum on FlyerTalk — puts it, it “is a smoking deal”

Another issue is that FlyerTalk members are not only having difficulty deciphering the rules, terms and conditions of the One Two Free promotion; but they are also reporting problems with taking advantage of some of the bonus opportunities. Hopefully, those glitches will have been resolved by the time you read this article.

Although you can earn points from the One Two Free promotion on qualifying rentals in addition to your standard Emerald Club reward benefits, you can only earn promotion points through one promotion on a single car rental and will not receive points or credit associated with any other promotion on that car rental if you are earning points in the One Two Free promotion.

A qualifying car rental is the paid rental — via the Emerald Club — of a mid-size or larger vehicle at participating National Car Rental locations in the 50 United States and the District of Columbia for a period of two or more consecutive days during the One Two Free promotion.

Although five business days should be allowed for points earned in the One Two Free promotion to be credited to your account, FlyerTalk members are reporting points being credited in as few as 48 hours.

When you receive your certificates for “free” rental days, you may only use up to a maximum of three certificates during the same car rental; and you may not combine the use of the certificates with any other discount. You also cannot use the certificates on previous or existing reservations; you may have to cancel a reservation and book the car rental again to use the certificates. Points and “free” rental day certificates will expire at 11:59 in the evening on June 16, 2014; and the certificates for the “free” rental days can only be used on cars rented from National Car Rental.

Tim Winship — author of the weblog at FrequentFlier.com — claims that “for the third straight year, National Car Rental is running its ‘One-Two-Free’ promotion.” I have no idea from where he gets his information, but National Car Rental has offered the One Two Free promotion every year on a regular basis since at least 2003.

Even though there are more earning opportunities for “free” days of renting a car, I am concerned that the One Two Free promotion — and the Emerald Club frequent renter loyalty program — may be becoming too complex and may lead to further rule and policy changes which may not be beneficial to you. Perhaps I am incorrect; but time will tell on that view.

I have participated in the One Two Free promotion for years and always found it worthwhile — and despite its few shortcomings, I recommend you participate as well, as it is still one of the easiest ways to earn days of “free” car rentals. Just be careful that you do not overpay for your car rentals to earn your “free” days of renting a car if competing car rental companies offer a significantly better deal, as that defeats the entire purpose of taking advantage of this promotion.

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