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
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.
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.
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”.
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.)
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
- Pay half of face value.
- Can use up to 3 per rental.
- With National you can rent online.
- Does not stack with most coupon codes.
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.
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!