Meet The Man Who’s Earned 1.2 Million United Miles by Renting Cars
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
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.
WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.