Tuesday travel tip: How to get a free 4-hour grace period on your next car rental

Sep 22, 2020

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You probably already know The Platinum Card® from American Express comes with a big, long list of travel-related perks included with its $550 annual fee (see rates & fees).

There are Platinum cardholder perks ranging from a monthly Uber credit to airport lounge access, an annual airline fee credit, up to $200, hotel and rental car elite status and now even monthly streaming and cell phone credits (through December 2020), among other benefits. While these flashy perks make the card so valuable, it’s easy to forget about some of the lesser-known, but equally valuable perks.

One of my favorite Platinum Card perks doesn’t make headlines, but it’s still saved me hundreds of dollars over the past few years: The four-hour grace period for Amex Platinum cardholders who rent from Hertz.

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With most car rentals, if you need a car rental from, say, 12 p.m. on Saturday until 4 p.m. on Monday, you’d probably have to pay for three full rental days — one for each of the first 24-hour periods, plus a whole other full day’s rate for the final four hours since you’re returning it at 4 p.m. instead of noon.

If you have an Amex Platinum card, however, and book your Hertz rental using the CDP discount code #211762, you will get four extra hours for free within the U.S. In the example above, you’ll get that same 52-hour rental and pay for only two rental days.

My most recent Hertz rental in Florida was a week-long rental, but since I was returning the car a few hours later in the day than when I picked it up due to our flight times, I would have normally been on the hook for an extra $45 or more if I hadn’t used that Amex Platinum CDP code at booking. A simple code entry saved me very real cash — and kept me from rushing back to the airport.

Related: How to save money on your next car rental

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

But that isn’t the only perk that may be hyper-relevant to travelers right now. With the Platinum card, you can also get a free additional driver, potential car upgrade, 10% more Hertz points and skip the counter at many airport pick-up locations if you’re a member of the Hertz Gold Plus Rewards program.

Right now, being a Hertz Gold member won’t only save you time, but perhaps even more importantly, it can keep you out of the potentially long pick-up line. You can sometimes wait in these lines for an hour or more. Even last week, with travel still well below pre-pandemic levels, the least socially distanced part of our journey would have been the car rental pick-up line if we weren’t Hertz members.

Related: How to have a socially-distanced vacation

Hertz President’s Circle at Washington-Dulles airport (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Of course, you don’t need the Amex Platinum to become a member of the free Hertz program (and, as a result, go straight to pick up your car and skip the line). If you’re also a Clear member, you can make your rental experience even safer by taking advantage of Hertz’s partnership with Clear for a contactless car rental.

Bottom line

Access to fancy airport lounges and elite-like perks at properties booked through the Fine Hotel and Resorts program are great, but this card demonstrates earns its membership fee even with less flashy benefits.

Don’t forget about the Platinum card’s ability to give you more flexibility with your Hertz car rental (and save you money). It’s an easy perk to forget, but a valuable one when you need it.

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, click here.

Featured image courtesy of John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images

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