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I don’t know why, but Hertz normally charges $60 for membership in their Hertz #1 Club for Gold status. The only real benefit to membership is expedited check-out; when you arrive at the rental location your name is displayed on a board and you can drive off the lot (just showing your ID at the exit). Most car rental companies offer this service for free, so it really baffles me why Hertz feels the need to charge $60. However, Hertz may be coming to their senses, because the generic sign-up page now shows the $60 annual fee as waived. Once you get free membership, I don’t believe they will ever bill you (I haven’t been). You can confirm this by emailing customer service, but I’ve never heard of someone actually getting charged the $60 once getting enrolled for free.
It’s also easy to get your membership waived if you work for a company that has a corporate contract with Hertz- that’s how I initially joined. Their corporate enrollment form is here and if you are a Delta Diamond you can use Program Name: SkyMiles, CDP Number: 165385 with Promo code: 4001.
To get real perks with Hertz you need at least 10 rentals or $5,000-$6,999 in revenue to get Five Star status which entitles you to a one car class upgrade, 10% bonus on points earned and a free day (600 points) for every 15 rentals. President’s Circle is achieved after you hit one of the following: 40 or more rentals , $7,000 or more in revenue or 120 or more days charged. That status entitles you to guaranteed reservations (which can be a lifesaver during last minute trips to cities that have no rentals available), 25% point bonus, guaranteed one-class upgrade and better customer service.
If you want instant car elite status and have the Amex Platinum card you can get National Executive, which includes upgrades and enhanced free rental day earning and Avis Preferred, which includes expedited pick-up and special offers.
Hat tip TPG reader Kevin.