Middle Age Miles

Hertz DCA – Some Great Customer Service and a Good Rate Too

2019 Dodge Durango SUV (not our actual Hertz rental vehicle, but it looked just like this)
[featured image courtesy Dodge]

We tend to call out our travel providers when they don’t live up to our expectations, but we think it’s important to recognize instances of great customer service as well. We had a couple of nice experiences this weekend at the Hertz station at DCA airport that we thought were worth sharing. We also got a really good rate on a new Dodge Durango SUV when we really needed space to carry 7 passengers on some of our weekend drives.

Booking & Rate

This past weekend was wedding weekend for Middle Age Miles son Dylan. The wedding was in the Washington DC area. In our initial planning, we had thought Ubers and shuttles would be sufficient, but we decided last-minute that having a big rental vehicle would be a huge help, if not an outright necessity for the weekend.

On the day before departure, we searched for rental vehicles. Hertz tends to be our go-to company for domestic rentals based on our history of getting good rates there and our President’s Circle elite status, so we started there and began trying the various rate codes that have worked best for us over time. In this case, the Amex Platinum discount code (CDP# 211762) gave us the best deal. And even though we’re not huge fans of prepaid rates for rental cars, it seemed ok for a rental that we’d pick up in less than 24 hours. With the Amex Platinum code and a prepaid rate, we booked a big 7-passenger SUV for $26/day base rate. All-in price for 4 days, with taxes and fees, was $146.96. We’ll take this any time, and we were elated to get this rate given our last-minute booking.

We booked through Ebates, using our MR-earning account, so we’ll receive 2.5x Membership Rewards (MR) points on our base rate. We’ll also earn 156 Hertz Gold Plus Rewards points for this rental – 1 point per dollar on our $104 base rate ($26/day * 4 days), plus a 50% bonus as a President’s Circle elite member. And finally, by paying with our Chase Sapphire Reserve, we had primary collision damage coverage (not needed, thankfully!) and earned 3x Ultimate Rewards (UR) points on the full bill.

Great Customer Service Experience #1 – Free Fuel After a Delay at Check-Out

When we arrived at DCA, I took the short shuttle ride over to the rental car center. Oddly, the rental car shuttle departs from the Departures level of Terminals B/C instead of outside baggage claim on the Arrivals level. I walked straight across to the Gold Rewards board, but my name wasn’t listed. A short check with the agent seated by the board revealed that I could take any vehicle I wanted from the President’s Circle aisle – but she also pointed me to a 7-passenger Dodge Durango SUV in the class that I’d reserved, near the front of the aisle. She said that they had made sure that I could get the SUV that I’d reserved by putting it there, and she also mentioned that there was one other large SUV further down the aisle if I preferred it.

I hopped into the Durango SUV and was pleased to find that it was a new 2019 model with just over 3,000 miles. I started it up and proceeded to check-out. Once I got to the check-out booth, there was a several-minute delay. The agent informed me that there was a computer issue and they had to reboot. Once the system was back up, though, the agent informed me that I could return the SUV with a 3/4-full tank, as a courtesy for having to wait. I didn’t ask for this, and I hadn’t complained about the wait (it certainly wasn’t the agent’s fault, and he seemed to be doing what he could to get things going again). I thanked him and headed out.

Sure enough, when I checked my rental contract, it was marked as 3/4 full (6 out of 8 in Hertz parlance). I thought this was a great customer service gesture, and I truly appreciated it. We would be leaving on an early flight on Sunday morning, and not having to worry about filling up the vehicle before departure was a huge relief.

And this all worked out in the end – I returned the vehicle 3/4 full, I mentioned it to the check-in agent, and we were not charged anything for fuel on our final bill.

What a nice touch for a mildly annoying wait at check-out.

Great Customer Service Experience #2 – A Ride Back to the Terminal After Check-In

On Sunday morning, we returned our SUV to Hertz. We were technically on time, but running a little later than we wanted because of having to spend some extra time at check-out at our hotel.

When we returned the SUV, a Hertz representative asked if we’d like a ride over to the terminal. He said we could just leave our bags in the SUV and he’d drive us to the terminal in it.

We were a little confused. We weren’t sure if this was going to result in a charge, and we’ve never anyone ask us this before when returning a rental car to an airport. We hesitated, but the Hertz rep said he’d be glad to do it. So, we accepted and jumped back in to the back seat of the SUV. And indeed, the Hertz rep drove us over to the terminal and dropped us off near the American check-in stand.

This was a fantastic and unexpected treat. We didn’t have to schlep our luggage across the parking garage and on-and-off a shuttle bus, and this removed our mild stress about arriving to the airport a little later than we wanted.

Again, we didn’t ask for this ride; it was offered to us proactively by a very nice Hertz representative. We weren’t charged, and everything went smoothly.

We’re not sure if the offer of a ride had anything to do with our President’s Circle (PC) elite status. We don’t think so. The Hertz rep was asking us if we wanted a ride almost immediately after we pulled into to the car return slot. And we didn’t hear the check-in agent mention anything about our elite status to him. It’s possible that they identified me as a PC member that quickly, but it didn’t seem like that’s how it unfolded.

In any event, this was a great and delightful surprise. Hats off to Hertz and the very nice representative who drove us over to the terminal!

Other Good Experiences with Hertz Recently

We understand that everyone has bad experiences with rental car companies, including Hertz. We’ve had plenty of our own (especially internationally; we’ve vowed to never use Hertz in Europe ever again). We’re also not thrilled about Hertz’s recent no-advance-notice devaluation of Gold Plus Rewards points.

But, at risk of ruining our luck by talking about it, we’ve done well with Hertz lately:

  • In April, we rented a Hertz car from SEA airport for a base rate of $14 per day – and walked away from the President’s Circle choice aisle with a sweet Jaguar XF!
  • In May, we rented a full-size car from Hertz at XNA airport (Fayetteville/Bentonville, Arkansas) for 2 days, at a base rate of $16 per day. We didn’t get an upgrade, but we made our booking using the Hertz-United partnership and earned 2,500 United miles!
This is our sweet Jaguar XF that we picked up from the President’s Circle aisle in SEA a few weeks ago for $14/day base rate!

Having President’s Circle status with Hertz certainly hasn’t hurt on our run of good luck. We think this is especially true at locations like SEA, ORD and DCA airports where they have a dedicated aisle of vehicles for President’s Circle choice. And as we’ve written about extensively, many people are eligible to status match to Hertz PC status:

We hope that your upcoming travels result in good rental car luck too!

Do you have any recent data points, good or bad, about Hertz? Please share with us and other Middle Age Miles readers in the Comments!

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