Enterprise Launches Points Program

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Big news in the car rental business this week. Enterprise is launching a points system to go along with its Enterprise Plus loyalty program on March 1, 2012. The program used to be geared just toward business travelers hoping to expedite rentals and drop-offs, but now Enterprise has incorporated a whole points component. Though it doesn’t launch until next week, you can check out some of the features and rules here and should be able to join before the launch so you can earn points starting the first day.

Enterprise announces the new points component of Enterprise Plus on its web site. Log-in using your Enterprise account info to create a points account.

JOIN
If you’re not a member of Enterprise.com, you’ve got to join the general program first, create a profile, and accept the terms of use. Then you can “activate” your rewards by registering with Enterprise Plus. The registration page seems to be experiencing a malfunction at the moment when you go to register your Enterprise account, but hopefully they’ll get that working prior to the launch date next Friday!

Just FYI, per Enterprise’s web site: Members may not maintain more than one Enterprise Plus account. Only one individual may be enrolled per Enterprise Plus account. In the event more than one account number is assigned to the same individual, the duplicate account may be terminated, and Enterprise Plus Points, Qualifying Rentals and Qualifying Rental Days (see definitions below), may be transferred to the remaining account (excluding any enrollment or other bonuses that can only be earned a single time per member as specified in promotion terms and conditions).

EARNING
Members will earn one point per qualifying dollar spent on Enterprise rentals. According to Enterprise, here are the categories for qualifying rentals, and rentals that do NOT qualify.

“Qualifying Rentals” must meet the following:

  1. “Paid Rentals”: An Enterprise brand rental during which the Member has paid time and mileage (base) charges for one or more rental day. A rental with one or more free rental days will count as a Qualified Rental as long as there is a minimum of one paid rental day.
  2. A rental that was picked up from and returned to the same Enterprise Rent-A-Car location in the fifty (50) U.S., Canada or Puerto Rico
  3. A rental that has a valid Member Number applied to it at time of reservation, regardless of booking channel. The full name on the member profile must match the full name on the primary driver’s license on the rental agreement. For Qualifying Rentals that are not associated with a Member Number, Members may request retroactive credit for up to six (6) months from rental return date.

“Qualifying Rental Days” are paid rental days associated with a Qualifying Rental. When points are redeemed for a free rental day, it does not count as a Qualifying Rental Day. For example, a four-day rental consisting of two paid rental days and two free rental days will count as one Qualifying Rental and two Qualifying Rental Days.

Qualifying Rentals and Qualifying Rental Days do not include the following types of rentals:

  1. Insurance replacement rentals; dealer replacement, body shop or fleet replacement rentals.
  2. Rentals that were included as part of a Tour or Travel package
  3. Pre-paid rentals that were booked through a third party, including (but not limited to) third-party online OTAs
  4. Rentals using government rate codes or a government contract ID
  5. Discounted rentals by employees of Enterprise Holdings, Inc. and any of its parent company, subsidiaries, and affiliates and their family members who are eligible to receive an employee discount

As an added bonus, rentals from January 1 through the member’s enrollment date will count towards the new member’s qualifying rentals and rental days for the calendar year in which a new member enrolls, even though a member number was not included in the reservation. After enrollment, only rentals with a member number attached to them will qualify, though, so be sure to put it on all your reservations.

REDEMPTIONS
Free rental redemptions start at 400 points. Enterprise hasn’t yet posted the various redemption levels and point values yet, so stay tuned for further analysis once those are up.

However, you cannot redeem points for the following rentals:

  1. One-way rentals where the pick-up and return location are not the same
  2. Vehicle replacement rentals (rentals as the result of an accident, mechanical repair or theft)
  3. Tour or Travel packages
  4. Prepaid rentals booked through internet sites other than enterprise.com (.ca, .co.uk, .de, .ie)
  5. Rentals using government rate codes or a government contract ID
  6. Discounted rentals by employees of Enterprise Holdings, Inc. and any of its parent company, subsidiaries or affiliates, and their family members who are eligible to receive an employee discount

In addition, Members may not redeem any free rental days on rentals booked with corporate rates, but may redeem free rental days at the regular retail rates.

So there’s a fair amount of restrictions, but if you’re looking to use your points on a simple free rental, you should be okay.

BENEFITS
-Points don’t expire as long as you remain an active member with at least one qualifying rental every two-year period.
-Points are redeemable for free rental days for any available car on any day with no blackout dates (subject to availability), with rates starting as low as 400 points.
-New recognition levels based on rental activity (i.e. elite status)
-Members-only check-in at participating locations
-A dedicated phone number for expedited service

Enterprise Plus’ new elite tiers.

ELITE STATUS
There are going to be four levels of membership.

1. Enterprise Plus: This is the basic level. Membership is free, and once rewards are activated, points are earned with any qualifying rental.
2. Silver: Qualify after six rentals,. You get a 10% bonus on Enterprise Plus points earned on qualifying dollars spent. And you get one free car class upgrade certificate per program year.
3. Gold: Qualify after 12 rentals or 40 days of rentals. 15% bonus points on qualifying dollars spent.  Two car-class upgrade certificates per program year.
4. Platinum: Qualify after 24 rentals or 85 rental days. 20% bonus on points earned per dollar spent. Four free car-class upgrade certificates per program year.

INITIAL THOUGHTS
Hertz has always been my preferred program for earning free rental days, however it looks like it may be easier to rack up free days with Enterprise. Hertz requires 500 points for a free weekend rental day vs. only 400 with Enterprise. You earn 1 point per dollar spent in both programs. The Enterprise site is not completely up, so I couldn’t pull up all of the redemption options, so I’ll save final judgement until I have access to that information.

The confirmed upgrade certificates are an interesting perk, though if it’s only a one-level upgrade, that’s not much to get excited about. Overall, I think it’s a step in the right direction, though I’m a little miffed that my Enterprise rental in Hawaii will just miss the March 1, 2012 start date for earning points!

Hat tip: TPG reader Lauren.

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