Elite Status Travel Guide

National Car Rental Elite Status – Why And How

National Car
Written by Charlie

When it comes to achieving elite status, most people think of airlines. After that comes hotels. When it comes to rental cars, most people really never think about that offering much or being something they would have a desire to hold. The truth is that the right status with the right company can give you some pretty significant savings, even over opaque agencies like Priceline and Hotwire. Here is some information about National Car rental elite status, why you want it, and how you can get it.

National Car Emerald Club

National Car

The name of the frequent renter program with National Car rental is the Emerald Club. There are two separate tiers within the Emerald Club elite program. The first is called Executive and the top tier is called Executive Elite.

Each of them require renting a certain number of times (see the How You Can Get It section for the exact amount) or certain number of days within a year. With each comes a special set of perks for those customers who do rent from National. Even is only used on one rental, they can still give you some significant cost savings.

Thanks to the (now defunct) Continental Presidential Plus credit card that I held years ago, I was given Avis President’s Club status. I found it to be fantastic – until they took it away from me last year. I still get some decent stuff from that but had started using my National Car Emerald Executive status and love it!

Anyone can sign-up for the Emerald Club program. It will help you to put credits for free rentals as well as give you some awesome perks – just for signing up! Here is what you get as an Emerald member:

  • Choose your car. Choose whatever rental car you’d like from the Aisle and only pay the reserved Midsize rate. Awesome!
  • Peace of Mind. EmeraldAlertsSM provide you with essential rental information at your fingertips.
  • Faster rentals. Bypass the counter. Big Plus!
  • Faster returns. With E-receipts, there’s no need to wait for an agent to give you a receipt. Then with Drop & Go℠ service you can drop off the car and be on your way Another great perk!
  • Reward choices. Select from Free Rental Days, frequent-flyer miles or hotel rewards.
  • Fast online renting. Make online reservations with just a few clicks at nationalcar.com.
  • No second-driver fees.Never pay extra when family members and business associates do the driving. Very Nice!
  • Special offers. Receive exclusive members-only discounts and offers through our periodic emails.
  • Free Rental days. You earn one free rental day after seven rental credits. You will receive one rental credit per paid rental or for every four consecutive paid days.

Some of those that stand out is the ability to just bypass the counter and go pick your car. If you reserve a Midsize, you will be able to pick out the car of your choice in the Aisle (not the Executive Aisle). I have had some pretty great picks from there over the years! It is great because you are only charged the Midsize price no matter what car you select! I have received Mustangs a couple of times. Now, do not expect to get a Mustang each time. A lot will depend on the airport and clientele that rents from it. For the most part, just look at it as a way to pick out exactly the car you want under the Fullsize category. If you have a preference for a particular make/model, this is where you can really make out (without having to ask at the counter and be quoted another price per day to upgrade).

Another great perk is the fact that there are no second-driver fees. This is a huge benefit since other programs can charge a few dollars a day just to add another driver. This can add up quickly on weekly (or longer) rentals! The ease of not even having to list a second driver on the contract is helpful as well.

To sign-up for the basic Emerald Club program, click here.

Why Strive For Emerald Executive or Elite

National Car

If you want even more care and perks, then it is time to step up to Emerald Executive. This is the level where you begin to see a few more benefits come your way. One of the big increases is that you get to select a car from the Executive Aisle. Every car in that aisle is a Fullsize or larger. Basically, you will find a large assortment of cars available here. If the other aisles for specific car types are full, they will generally dump the cars here. You can get SUVs, vans, crossovers, even premium cars! Just show up and pick out the car you want and you are on your way! All you need to do in advance is reserve a midsize car and that is what you will be charged for – no matter what you select from the Executive Aisle!

Here is what you get with Emerald Executive status:

  • Choice of Fullsize or better cars from our exclusive Executive area.
  • Guaranteed upgrades: You always pay for one car class less than the car you reserved.
  • One Free Rental Day with six rental credits.

Here is what you get with Emerald Executive Elite status:

  • A guaranteed car (up to a Fullsize) with 24-hour notice.
  • Vehicle delivery to most private airport terminals at many U.S. National locations.
  • One Free Rental Day (any car class with no blackout dates) with just five rental credits.

Not only are there specific benefits, but there are also the unnamed benefits. These include better service when speaking with customer service representatives, sometimes reps will allow the car to not incur extra fees if returned a little late, even better cars at time of rental (like the high-end cars that may not normally be in the aisle), and other things that will depend on the location and the representative. You should not achieve this status for these reasons, but these are some things that you can find at times and should not be counted on.

You also receive elite discounts! I received a 10% discount on both of my last rentals as a Emerald Executive member. Depending on the cost of your rental, that can really add up overtime!

In my recent rental, I reserved a Midsize and ended up driving away with a Chrysler Town&Country. Some of the other cars available were Jeeps, Mercedes sedans, crossover vehicles, and luxury intermediate SUVs. It hurt to walk away from some of them, but with a family, the van was best! 🙂 Definitely not a bad choice either – leather interior, DVD player, heated seats, fantastic gas mileage (30mpg hwy – actual!). I’m not complaining!

How To Get Emerald Executive or Executive Elite Status

Getting the status is the fun part! While the frequent renter part of the earning requires a certain amount of days/rentals, there are other ways to get this status for free. First, here are the requirements to earn it by renting:

Emerald Executive Status:

  • 12 paid rentals in a calendar year or
  • 40 paid rental days in a calendar year

Emerald Executive Elite Status:

  • 25 paid rentals in a calendar year or
  • 85 paid rental days in a calendar year

While I could have easily earned Executive status this year (already will have 32 rental days in 5 weeks time), it is nice that I actually got to rent these vehicles already holding Executive status! There are a couple different ways to receive the status without ever having rented a car from them.

Status Match

National Car

Like airlines and hotels, National offers status matches to customers of Avis and Hertz. So, if you currently hold status with one of those companies, you can match your status over to National. Here is the breakdown:

Your Current Program Status: Our Status Match:
Avis Preferred First
Hertz #1 Club Gold Five Star
> Emerald Club
Avis President’s Club
Avis Chairman’s Club
Hertz #1 Club Gold President’s Circle
> Emerald Club
Executive Elite®

If you have status listed with the other programs, head over here to sign-up for the status match. If you have held the Continental Presidential Plus card or the United Club card, you already have Avis First and are clear to go ahead and sign-up for the match!

American Express Platinum Holders

National Car

If you have the American Express Platinum card (whether it is the personal Platinum, Mercedes Benz Platinum, or the business Platinum), you receive National Emerald Executive status as part of being a cardholder! All you have to do is call American Express to have the status initiated or do it online here. It takes just a moment to do and you are set and ready to go!

The interesting part about this is that, though it lists the member year you expire, it does not always expire when you drop your American Express Platinum card. I dropped my card a while ago and still have Emerald Executive status by way of the card (even though it shows I expire February 2014). I do have the opportunity to have Emerald Executive status another way as well, so I will initiate that when this finally rolls off.

World Mastercard Holders

Edit: world elite mastercards also gives National Executive status (two such cards are the Executive AAdvantage card from Citi and the barclaycard arrival plus.

Milepoint Premium Membership 

National Car

For the last two years, Milepoint has run a premium membership package promo. For $50, you could sign-up and get a host of perks and benefits. Two of the great benefits were Hilton Gold membership and National Emerald Executive membership (in addition to Hyatt points and United miles in different years). While the package from last year is currently sold out, there may be those who purchased it who do not desire to use their National status. If that is the case, you can always ask them to give that to you and you are all set! Of course, you can also hope that Milepoint runs it again this year because I can certainly see people benefiting from only paying $50 for National status given the upgrades and discounts!

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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.


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  • So are you saying that since I’m executive elite with National that means I could rent a Audi or Cadillac for the same cost that I rent a Nissan Maxima

    • Not sure if @Stephen still wants to know about this, but yes – straight from the National Website:
      “Executive Area Access — Choose any car (Fullsize and above) in the Executive Area and only pay the Midsize rate (in US and Canada).”

      I use the Emerald Aisle all the time and have rented some fun cars, all at the same midsize rate. I’ve rented the BMW 430i, 4-door Jeep Wrangler, and others. Last week I saw a beautiful new black Challenger, but couldn’t commit because it’s only 2-doors.