Linking an airline loyalty program with a hotel is so 2013. Today the next step for cross-program reciprocity was realized as United Airlines and Hertz announced a deal to offer United’s elite members status in Hertz’s Gold Plus Rewards program as well as increased bonus point earning rates for auto bookings.
Elite Status Reciprocity
As part of the newly announced deal Hertz will offer elite status in its program to all of United’s MileagePlus Premier (elite) members. Top elites in the UA program will receive Hertz President’s Circle status. For those with Gold or Silver status with MileagePlus the Hertz match will be Five Star status. Both tiers offer upgrades on rentals and the President’s Circle status also includes guaranteed access to a car with 48 hours advance booking. The status reciprocity takes effect on 1 January 2015.
Better Points Earning Rates
United MileagePlus members who credit their Hertz rentals to the MileagePlus program will see an increase in points earnt with a sliding scale increasing the rates as elite status rises. The earning maxes out at 1,250 UA miles for Platinum, 1K and GS members.
Credit Cards Matter
Perhaps the most interesting part of this deal is a nuance related to how United is treating members who hold a co-branded credit card issued by Chase. On the reciprocity front the President’s Circle status will be made available to primary cardholders of the MileagePlus Club and Presidential Plus Cards. For the increased earning rates part of the program any Chase co-branded card qualifies. Those members will earn at a 50% higher rate (750/rental) than regular MileagePlus members (500/rental). This is still a step below other elite tiers but it shows once again that the airlines are willing to offer up “elite-light” levels of benefits for passengers who pay the credit card annual fee.
And then, of course, is the question of which other programs will try to mimic this program. Delta and Starwood launched the hotel/airline reciprocity effort last year, a move which United and Marriot followed in short order. This time around it seems likely that either Delta or American Airlines might try to do something similar with Avis or National. Delta did recently announce a similarly generous earning rate with Hertz, including the tiered levels for Medallion members, but it did not include status reciprocity.
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