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I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know many of the top award travelers in the US and around the world over the last three years. There are plenty of amazing people who have learned to maximize both earning and redeeming points, but every now and then an individual truly stands out. JJ Todd, a 6’10” UNLV-trained general counsel and founder of the award travel concierge service Easy Go Traveler, is one such person. After just a few minutes of conversation with his coworkers, friends or wife, you’ll probably be told to ask him about renting cars — specifically the 227 rentals he’s completed since April of this year, netting him 1,191,750 United miles (and still counting).
JJ has been renting cars full-time since 2012. His car at the time broke down, and after completing a few calculations, he realized renting cars and earning airline miles with each rental would make more financial sense than owning a car. He began visiting the Las Vegas McCarren Airport rental car center and quickly educated himself on the ins and outs of renting cars and finding the best prices. Since then, he’s completed 979 rentals at the center, and he equates the 10- to 15-minute morning routine of returning yesterday’s rental and picking up a new one to stopping for a cup of coffee on the way to work. Because you earn bonus miles with every rental, it makes sense to do one-day rentals and maximize your returns.
The introduction of a targeted United mileage offer from Hertz this year was a great opportunity for JJ to further hone his skills. Back in April, Hertz began offering select MileagePlus members 5,250 miles per rental. That’s a substantial sum for a single rental — equal to $78.75 based on TPG’s valuations — so JJ decided to put his daily rentals toward the promo.
At the time of writing, JJ’s completed 227 rentals with the promo, typically for between $22-$30 each time. He’s rented as many as 24 cars in a single day — one per hour — and, as JJ lovingly says, he’s picked up a second family through his daily interactions with the rental car center staff.
On November 4, JJ went to his usual spot in the Hertz Gold Booth to pick up the day’s rental when a few staff members came out from the back and congratulated him on earning his millionth United mile from the promo. JJ is a humble man, and after speaking with him, it’s obvious the success he’s had with the promo is entirely due to the relationship he’s invested in with the local Hertz employees. JJ contacted the Hertz manager before beginning to let him know what he wanted to do, and he always ensures that he is kind and polite to staff. If the desk is busy, he’ll step to the side and let the staff push through a few customers, and he tries to time his pickups at off-peak hours.
“It’s a win-win for everyone,” he told me. JJ always reads the fine print of every promo and rental car agreement to ensure his actions are in compliance with stated rules. “I provide the location a daily revenue stream, as I’ve spent significant money on car rentals, don’t carry the costs of car ownership, and I get my investment back in the form of United miles.”
The promo ended for the first time on September 30, and returned just a week later. It’s still offering some United members as many as 5,750 miles per rental. The promo is currently scheduled to run until January 31, 2018, and JJ shows no signs of slowing down on his rentals. Sadly, my own United account is only targeted for 2,750 miles per rental, and my local Hertz centers don’t have anywhere close to the low rates JJ is able to book in Vegas.
To date, JJ has spent $6,100 on the promo and earned just under 1.2 million United miles. That’s equivalent to buying miles at ~0.5 cents each — a great price considering that JJ values United miles at a minimum of 2 cents apiece. He also gets the value of having a rental car, typically a luxury car due to his rightfully earned Hertz Gold Plus Rewards President’s Circle status. As for how he’ll use those miles, JJ already has business-class flights booked to South Africa, Brazil and Argentina.
If you want to take part in the promo, make sure to use discount code (CDP) 62455, PC#305023 and input your MileagePlus number at the time of reservation. If you’re ever in the Las Vegas rental car center, keep an eye out for JJ at the Hertz counter; there’s a very good chance he’ll be there earning his next award flight.
The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
- Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees