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New Avis Program Is Promising, but Vague on Details

Avis has a new frequent-renter program, Avis Preferred, and it’s, well, new.

The new program has two levels, entry-level Avis Preferred, and Avis Preferred Plus for those who rent at least 12 times or spend at least $5,000 during a calendar year.

Earning points is a part of Avis Preferred, but not automatically. Oddly, Preferred members have to opt in to Preferred Points if they want to earn points redeemable for awards. No opt in, no points. And the points are based not on rentals or rental days but on dollars spent. The earning rates vary, as follows:

  • Avis Preferred members earn 1 point per $1 spent on rentals, 2 points per $1 spent on accessories.
  • Avis Preferred Plus members earn 1.25 points per $1 spent on rentals, 2.5 points per $1 spent on accessories.
  • Avis Preferred Plus members (with 25 rentals/$7,000 spend per year) earn 1.5 points per $1 spent on rentals, 3 points per $1 spent on accessories.

On the award side of the program, Avis promises “complimentary rental days, upgrades and accessories (like GPS and satellite radio),” and “ultimate flexibility in travel with no blackout dates.” But that’s as far as it goes. At press time, there was no award chart showing how many points are required for which awards.

No doubt that’s a lapse that Avis is working furiously to remedy. After all, a loyalty program can’t be judged solely on the basis of its earning rates or its redemption levels. A program’s value, or lack thereof, is to be found in the relationship between earning and redemption. You need details of both.

There are handful of other benefits of program membership, including no-check-in car choice and last-minute exchanges or upgrades for Preferred members, and complimentary space-available upgrades for Preferred Plus members.

Deal or No Deal

If you’re already an Avis loyalist, by all means sign up for the program and enjoy what benefits it has to offer. And don’t forget to opt in to earn points.

If you’re brand-agnostic and make your car-rental decisions on the basis of value (best price and loyalty-program benefits), it’s too soon to tell whether Avis Preferred is a game-changer or just window dressing. Until Avis discloses details of its award pricing, the program is more of a question than an answer.

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