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Bummed About Avis First

Avis First
Written by Charlie

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I had not written about this in a while because I did not want to run the risk of losing this benefit, but that day has finally come! I have been downgraded to Avis First. 🙁 To be fair, Avis First is still a fine program but not President’s Club!

Avis FirstAvis Rent a Car has a loyalty program (like all the other car rental companies) and gives status based on number of qualifying rentals. There are, however, some situations where that status can be comped. For example, the American Express Platinum card and Milepoint Premium membership gives elite status with National Car Rental. The American Express Platinum card also gives Avis Preferred status and Hertz Gold status. Generally these status are not amounting to a lot of benefit, but it can still be a time-saver when it comes to getting the car and returning the car (with status, you normally are able to go right to the garage to get your car – essentially skipping the whole counter ordeal, which can be quite long after arriving flights).

Avis President’s Club

A card that no longer exists – the Chase Continental President’s card – used to give a special elite status with Avis. When Continental merged with United, it continued as a benefit of the Chase United Club card. This status was one that was only comped and could not be earned. It was Avis President’s Club status. This status was very good. It gave the following elite benefits:

  • 2 car class upgrade (where available) – up to full-size car
  • Guaranteed rental availability (even without a reservation)
  • Better customer service
  • Preferred access at the counter and in the garage

To me, the best part was the 2 class upgrade (even Hertz’s top status does not give that). This meant that I consistently would rent a sub-compact or a compact and receive an intermediate (or even better) upon pickup. When traveling with my family, I would rent an intermediate and receive a full-size (which always had a huge price gap). This benefit was only stated for US/Canada, but I always received these upgrades all over the world (in fact, when renting in one country one time, they insisted on giving me the best car in the lot and the manager came out to me – said they had never met a President’s Club member before 🙂 )

Downgrades Begin

As Gary @ View from the Wing wrote about earlier this year, Avis ended this fantastic benefit of the United Club card and announced that they would downgrade all President’s Club members to Avis First as of April 1st of this year. This was a huge downgrade and made up many United Club card holders minds when it came time to renew this (pricey – $395 annual fee) card.

Avis First

I kept quiet when this happened because mine was not downgraded! In fact, interestingly enough, I had held this status since I had the Continental President’s Chase card in 2009 (even though I downgraded that card to the ordinary United MileagePlus Explorer card a few years ago) and continued to hold that status until today. 🙁 Obviously, I do not blame Avis for this at all – I actually received 7 months of additional benefits than most Avis customers had. I was just disappointed to lose that status and finally slip to Avis First. Here are the benefits of Avis First:

  • 1 car class upgrade (where available)
  • Free weekend coupon after every 4 qualifying rentals
  • Same Preferred access as the President’s Club membership

So, now I will need to reserve a car class one level higher than I am used to. I will also lose some of the best rental cars I have ever had because of President’s Club membership – Corvette, Mustang, Lincoln MKS, Cadillac XTS, and BMW 528. 🙂 And all of these were upgrades from mid-size reservations! Thankfully with the notice today of my downgrade, Avis did give me a free weekend reservation.

So, thank you, Avis, for all the years of your great status and farewell President’s Club! Avis had done much for me with goodwill through that membership, so I will more than likely continue to rent (if the prices are pretty equal).

Did you have Avis President’s Club status? If so, how do you rate it to Avis First? What can I expect on my next rental?

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.


  • I have been an Avis 1st member for several years and a National Emerald Executive before that. It depends on how you rank club benefits as to how disappointed you may be with the downgrade. For me, the biggest benefit is skipping the counter, followed by free car rental days, followed lastly by upgrades. While I avoid the counter with both rental companies, National was certainly more generous in providing loyalty program free rental days and allowing self selection of cars. As an Executive member I could easily double or triple upgrade myself just by walking around the lot and choosing a car I liked. I would never be challenged exiting the parking lot.

    • I have only used the National status a couple of times – I may need to try them out the next time. I do remember their generous choices available (had no idea that Mustangs were mid-size!)