Save Up to 50% Off Face Value with Discover Car Rental Certificates – Full Details & How to Redeem Online

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discover car rental certificate national book online

Discover Car Rental Certificates & Redeeming Online

Discover has really been generous this year. First, they offered the Double Cashback promotion to existing customers. (This is still available to new customers.) Then they came out with the current 10% bonus for using Apple Pay. If you are like me, you might just be accumulating a lot of Discover cashback rewards.

Sure it might be nice just to cash in those Discover dollars 1:1 for the real deal, but what if you can get a greater value for them? In the past I have talked about Discover’s cruise certificates which offer a decent discount off face value. (Although they require you to book through Discover.) There is also another travel related deal you can get with Discover cash. Car rental certificates!

Discover Car Rental Certificates – 50% Off Face Value

Discover offers certificates for National, Alamo and Enterprise at 50% off face value. A $40 certificate costs only $20 in Discover cash. (These certs only discount the base rate, not taxes or fees.) I first learned about these certificates from Frequent Miler and was recently able to make my first redemption. While the other two companies are good, I chose to rent with National for a couple of reasons:

  • I have Executive status through my Amex Platinum card. (More info on that benefit.)
  • With my status I get to choose any car in the “Executive Aisle” when I rent a midsize or above.
  • The Discover certificates can be redeemed online. (Alamo and Enterprise require you to call.)
  • I can use a portal for up to 5% more cashback on my booking.

Redeeming Discover Cash for a Car Rental Certificate

discover car rental certificate national book online

To redeem your Discover cashback for a rental car certificate, login to your Discover account and click “Rewards” on the top and then “Gift”. You should now be in the gift card section. Now click “Travel & Vacations” on the left and you should see cruise line and rental car certificates! Choose your favorite company and click through to “purchase” your certificates. You should receive them instantly if you choose e-certificates.

discover car rental certificate national book online
My National Certs were displayed instantly.

Redeeming a National Car Rental Certificate Online

If you choose an Alamo or Enterprise certificate, simply call the number provided in order to redeem. As far as I know there isn’t a way to apply certificates online with those companies. With National you can either book over the phone or online. Let me walk you through the online redemption process.

Note: The certificates say there is a limit of one per rental. Many people including myself have successfully been able to apply a maximum of three certificates per rental.

Online Redemption Process

To start the booking process, don’t go directly to National Car Rental’s website, but instead begin through a shopping portal. As of right now Top Cashback has the highest rate at 5%, so that is the portal I used on my recent booking. (Related: Shopping Portal Strategy)

Once on the National site, login to your account (if you have one) and perform your search for the location and dates that you need. As shown below, you will put the certificate code(s) into the “Coupon Code” slot. This means that you will not be able to use other coupons. For my upcoming Hawaii rental I could have used a $20 off coupon, meaning that I lost $20 in potential value by using the certificates. The way I look at it, I paid $60 for $100 worth of value.

discover car rental certificate national book online

While you cannot use coupon codes, you can use whatever contract id gives you the greatest discount. The code I used was the American Express Platinum Executive id, however I could have used a different one if it provided a better discount. Before booking I tried several different contract ids and found the Amex Platinum Executive one to be the best. When everything is input correctly click “Start Reservation”.

discover car rental certificate national book online national5

Above is a screenshot of the results page. You can see that the website takes the $40 per certificate off of the total. After discounting the three certificates, my total for a midsize will be $82.57. Since the certs show as a coupon, I do believe credit card car rental insurance will work, even if it requires the entire amount be paid with the card. (Double check this with your credit card company first though.)

discover car rental certificate national book online

While Maui is an expensive place to rent a car, I should be able to get a decent vehicle at a great price thanks to my Executive status and Discover certificates. My cost for the rental in Hawaii will be $83.18 plus I paid $60 in Discover dollars, so my actual cost is $143.18. That beats the $~210 it would have been otherwise. I will also get 5% back through the portal, although I’m not sure what amount they will base it on.

Pros & Cons of Discover Car Rental Certificates

Pros:

  • Pay half of face value.
  • Can use up to 3 per rental.
  • With National you can rent online.

Cons:

  • Does not stack with most coupon codes.

Additional Resources

Earlier this year I wrote an article about saving money on car rentals and there were some great comments with additional advice. Some of the advice applies to Hawaii and some to all rentals. I highly suggest giving that a read as well.

Conclusion

When you are earning your Discover cashback, don’t forget there are ways to increase its value even further. Renting with Discover car rental certificates can often be a wonderful deal. You should of course always check the prices at all brands before locking in your choice, however for me the combination of elite status and certificates I can get at half off of face value is a good one!


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13 COMMENTS

  1. I thought the biggest CON is this makes you ineligible for the CDW coverage you normally get when booking and paying for a rental car with a major credit card. But would love to know if this is incorrect. Hoping to have a lot of Discover cash back over the next year lol.

    • As you can see it shows as a discount coupon just like a free weekend day or $30 off a week. Based on my understanding CDW coverage should apply, but everyone should definitely check with their credit card company to make sure.

      • Thanks for the quick response Shawn. I see you did mention it above 🙂 Thought I remembered something from Greg’s post that made this pretty risky. But since National shows it as a Coupon, and not a Form of Payment, seems like this would probably be OK. Good to know!

  2. FYI, FrequentMiler has readers who have reported recently that National has charged them $80 after the fact on their rentals when they used 3 of these certificates, because you’re only supposed to use one. You should report back and see if this happens to your rental.

    • I just read that last comment on the Frequent Miler post. It was from less than two weeks ago, so perhaps things have changed. I will definitely report back if anything happens. My rental is at the end of the month.

      • This just happened to me in the last couple weeks after rentals in both Maui and Kauai. About two weeks after the rentals, BOTH were charged an additional $80. I called National and complained quite firmly, and each time the rep agreed with me and reversed the charge, and in the 2nd instance I was also given a free night for the hassle. But this is definitely happening, so be aware of it and watch your credit card statements.

        • Wait David. So you got the charges reversed AND got a free night? Under what grounds? Because the certificates clearly note the one per rental limitation so Im curious what your argument was.

          • Yes, although I didn’t ask for any further compensation. And under the grounds that I’d already gotten a detailed confirmation, rented the car, and then returned the car and checked out two weeks prior. All under the premise of paying what was in the confirmation. In what situation are you actually ok with a company telling you how much you’ll pay for something, you then paying that amount for that service/goods, and then two weeks later them retroactively charging you (without telling you!) because they say it was a mistake and you should owe more…? I don’t really care WHAT the T&Cs say, once I’ve rented the car and checked out, this transaction is done. I have my confirmation and receipt, and I’ll dispute that extra charge with my CC if I have to. I suppose you could compare it to a price mistake on something… it wouldn’t be ok if somebody charged your CC two weeks later because it should’ve cost more! Once you’re checked out and they’ve agreed to the price, it’s a done deal. AND, perhaps I’d view it differently if a rep called me up and kindly/humbly explained the situation to me and said “sorry, but here’s the deal…” But for them to just reverse the vouchers and charge it retroactively? No way. If I wasn’t someone who carefully goes through my finances, that’d just slip through the cracks and I just don’t think that’s remotely ok for any company to do.

          • Very good points David. Appreciate the response. I would totally agree with you. Definitely messed up to make price adjustments all after the fact. Just hope it doesnt get hard coded on the website soon to limit certificate use!

      • Thank you for the new installment of your “Circles & Arrows” walk through series. Very helpful. Hope all three certs work for you man!

  3. I tried to use a Discover certificate on an Alamo rental that I had booked through Costco. If I had used the certificate, the price tripled, so using the 1/2 off certificate from Discover would have cost me a lot of money. I argued with them, but they were firm. If you have to pay a higher price to use the certificates, they are worthless.

    • Yeah it definitely pays to check. They won’t let you combine both discounts, so Costco can be cheaper. Since you can get the certs right away, I think it is best to search, then when you make sure the Discover certs are the best deal, you can redeem cashback for them and book.

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