The new Enterprise rewards program: good for laughs, not for points

If a loyalty program launches and no one notices, does it exist?

The Rapid Traveler has been sitting on a email from Enterprise Rental Car about the March 1 relaunch of their Enterprise Plus program, now with rewards. He expected the experts to pick apart the strengths and weaknesses, but even FlyerTalk has only mustered a 10-post thread. True, Enterprise does little to stoke the egos of road warriors, and their rental formalities time consuming, but their huge number of neighborhood locations and generally low prices make them an attractive option in many situations.

The existing Enterprise Plus program has common benefits like dedicated rental lines, but no rewards. Those in the know (i.e. readers of View from the Wing) can earn National Emerald Club credits at most Enterprise locations. Excluded locations are found on page 3 of the Emerald Club terms and conditions from July 29, 2011.* The Rapid Traveler has found no evidence to suggest that this will or will not be terminated with the new program.

Existing Enterprise Plus members must log in to their account and activate rewards, which boast no expiration (until you check the footnote: “With at least one qualifying Enterprise rental during every two-year period.”) and no blackout dates (“Subject to availability.”). The footnotes are just the commencement of disheartening fine print.

But first, the tier levels:

So, let’s sift through the terms and conditions (all bold emphasis added by The Rapid Traveler):

So I can rent anywhere and get points, right? No, just the US, Canada and Puerto Rico:

Qualifying Rentals” must meet the following:

  1. Paid Rentals”: An Enterprise brand rental during which the Member has paid time and mileage (base) charges for one or more rental day. A rental with one or more free rental days will count as a Qualified Rental as long as there is a minimum of one paid rental day.
  2. A rental that was picked up from and returned to the same Enterprise Rent-A-Car location in the fifty (50) U.S., Canada or Puerto Rico.
  3. A rental that has a valid Member Number applied to it at time of reservation, regardless of booking channel. The full name on the member profile must match the full name on the primary driver’s license on the rental agreement. For Qualifying Rentals that are not associated with a Member Number, Members may request retroactive credit for up to six (6) months from rental return date.

Hmm, at least any rental there will earn? No:

Qualifying Rental Days” are paid rental days associated with a Qualifying Rental. When points are redeemed for a free rental day, it does not count as a Qualifying Rental Day. For example, a four-day rental consisting of two paid rental days and two free rental days will count as one Qualifying Rental and two Qualifying Rental Days.

Qualifying Rentals and Qualifying Rental Days do not include the following types of rentals:

  1. Insurance replacement rentals; dealer replacement, body shop or fleet replacement rentals
  2. Rentals that were included as part of a Tour or Travel package.
  3. Pre-paid rentals that were booked through a third party, including (but not limited to) third-party online OTAs.
  4. Rentals using government rate codes or a government contract ID.
  5. Discounted rentals by employees of Enterprise Holdings, Inc. and any of its parent company, subsidiaries, and affiliates and their family members who are eligible to receive an employee discount.

And I earn credits by rental days? No, you are awarded points per dollar spent:

Upon activation, Members will earn one (1) point for every qualifying U.S. dollar (“USD”) spent on a Qualifying Rental with a rental return date on or after the Activation Date.

At least every dollar I spend will earn points? Hahahahaha, easily half or more of your spend can be ineligible:

Qualifying U.S. Dollars Spent” is defined as time and mileage (base rate), paid upgrades, and additional add-ons (such as GPS, ski racks, car racks), less any discounts or credits; and excludes all taxes and surcharges, vehicle license fees, airport-related fees, insurance costs, fuel purchase option, and refueling. Points will be rounded to the nearest USD. The calculation to determine Qualifying Dollars Spent and corresponding points will be done at the sole discretion of Enterprise.

How about my corporate discount?

Points will not be earned for Qualifying Rentals tied to corporate IDs for corporate accounts that do not allow employees to earn currency associated with reward programs.

But at least there are no blackout dates, it must be easy to redeem awards?

Members may redeem Enterprise Plus Points for Free Rental Days on rentals in the 50 U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, booked at enterprise.com (.ca, .co.uk, .de, .ie). Free Rental Days may not be redeemed for the following types of rentals: (a) one-way rentals where the pick-up and return location are not the same; (b) insurance replacement rentals; dealer replacement, body shop or fleet replacement rentals; (c) Tour or Travel packages; (d) Prepaid rentals booked through internet sites other than enterprise.com (.ca, .co.uk, .de, .ie); (e) rentals using government rate codes or a government contract ID; and (f) discounted rentals by employees of Enterprise Holdings, Inc. and any of its parent company, subsidiaries or affiliates, and their family members who are eligible to receive an employee discount . In addition, Members may not redeem any free rental days on rentals booked with corporate rates, but may redeem free rental days at the regular retail rates.

There may be times when an Enterprise Rent-A-Car location requires a Member to call for availability. In these circumstances, Free Rental Days may not be redeemed, since they must be redeemed through enterprise.com (.ca, .co.uk, .de, .ie). Free Rental Days may not be redeemed for rentals booked through Enterprise Reservations, Enterprise branch locations, travel agencies or any other booking channel other than enterprise.com (.ca, .co.uk, .de, .ie). Free Rental Days may not be combined with other coupons, offers or discounted rates.

Points may be redeemed for up to seven (7) free rental days (“Free Rental Days”). Points required for each Free Rental Day will vary depending on the combination of the rental pickup location, car class and time period.

Free Rental Day Awards apply to time and mileage (base rate) only. Free Rental Days are non-transferable. Use of Free Rental Days does not exclude members from (i) extra hourly or excess mileage charges; (ii) taxes, assessments, use fees or other governmentally imposed, authorized or permitted surcharges or pass-throughs; (iii) license recoupment fees, airport fees and concession recoupment fees; (iv) service charges and fees; (v) vehicle license recovery fees; (vi) damage waiver, the cost of optional insurance products, fuel charges, optional upgrades, underage driver’s fees, infant seats or other optional items. Payment for each of these items shall be the sole responsibility of the member. Member is responsible for all fees and taxes.

The value of a Free Rental Day will vary by rental. To calculate the value of the Free Rental Day, Enterprise will determine the average daily base rate by taking the largest time period calculation as part of the Qualifying Rental and dividing it by the number of rental days in that time period. For example, for a two-day rental with a daily rate of $36.00 and an extra hourly charge of $12, the total base rate for the rental is ($36.00 X 2) + $12 = $84.00 / 2 days = $42; therefore, $42 will be credited for one Free Rental Day. For a six-day rental, the member will receive a weekly rate. If the weekly base rate is $250, the average daily rate is calculated as $250 / 6 days = $41.67, which will be credited for one Free Rental Day.

Members may determine how many points are required to redeem for each Award by visiting enterprise.com (.ca, .co.uk, .de, .ie) and clicking on Redeem Points and entering rental pickup and return dates and times and pickup location, and then selecting a vehicle.

Points will automatically be deducted from a Member’s account upon completion of a redemption request.

At any time prior to rental pickup date, Members may choose to modify or cancel the redemption rental reservation on enterprise.com (.ca, .co.uk, .de, .ie). For cancellations prior to the rental pickup date, points will automatically be re-deposited into the Member’s account. For modifications, depending on the change, points will be automatically added or deducted from the Member’s account. If a modified redemption rental requires additional points, and the Member does not have sufficient points to complete the new reservations (based on points already redeemed for the reservation plus any additional points balance), the Member will have the option to maintain the existing reservation with no changes, cancel the reservation, or modify the reservation for a rental redemption that is eligible based on the Member’s existing points balance.

For redemption rentals that were not picked up prior to the rental pickup date (a “no-show”), points will not be automatically re-deposited. Instead, if a Member was a no-show for a rental, the Member must visit enterprise.com (.ca, .co.uk, .de, .ie), My Account and then Account Activity to request a re-deposit for the unused redemption rental within 6 months from the rental pick-up date. Members that fail to request a re-deposit within such 6 month period shall forfeit such points and waive any claim in connection with such forfeiture.

So let’s start with the good news, in blue text. Award reservations can be canceled, even after the rental date, and points redeposited, apparently without fees.

And then there’s the rest:

  • Excludes one-way rentals.
  • Must be booked online, and if the website says you have to call, well, you are out of luck because they must be booked online.
  • Maximum reservation is 7 days.
  • The award only covers the base rate. Yet that base rate can be as little as half of an airport rental.

The final twist of the knife: “Free Rental Days may not be combined with other coupons, offers or discounted rates.” So this means that the reward price is calculated by the highest available price. Not only does that inflate the points cost, but many of the taxes and fees that renters are on the hook for are percentages of the base rate, so the co-pay portion is inflated as well.

This is starting to look like The Rapid Traveler’s health insurance plan.

Stick with crediting Enterprise rentals to National Emerald Club and their beautiful rental credits.

Readers, is The Rapid Traveler off his rocker (in this respect) or is this really a gigantic dud?

* The list of Enteprise locations excluded from earning National Emerald Club rental credits:

Anchorage Intl Arpt, Fairbanks Arpt, Juneau Int’l Arpt; Dothan Houston County Arpt, Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport; Arcata/Eureka Arpt, Sioux City Gateway Arpt; Boise Municipal Aprt, Fanning Falls Arpt; Magic Valley Regional Arpt, Bloomington Normal Arpt; Greater Peoria Airport, Fort Wayne Int’l Arpt; Wichita Arpt; Houghton County Arpt; Delta County Airport; Sawyer Int’l Arpt; Bemidji Arpt; Billings Arpt; Bozeman Arpt; Great Falls Int’l Arpt; Helena Regional Arpt; Glacier Int’l Airport; Missoula Int’l Arpt; Mark Andrews Int’l Airport; Minot Int’l Arpt; Lee Bird Field ; Port Columbus Intl Arpt; Scranton Intl Arpt; Luis Munoz Marin Int’l; Arpt; Rapid City Regional Arpt; Joe Foss Field; Corpus Christ Int’l Arpt; Salt Lake Int’l Arpt; Roanoke Regional Arpt; Outgamie County Arpt; Austin Straubel Arpt; La Crosse Municipal Arpt; Dane County Airport; General Mitchell Field; Central Wisconsin Arpt; Rhinelander/Oneida Arpt; Yeager County Arpt; Greenbrier Valley Arpt; Jackson Hole Arpt; Lethbridge County Arpt; Kamloops Arpt, Kelowna Int’l Arpt; Nanaimo Arpt; North Peace Regional Arpt; Prince George Arpt; Victoria Int’l Arpt; Thompson Municipal Arpt; St. John’s Newfoundland Int’l Arpt; Dryden Regional Arpt; Sault Ste. Marie Arpt; Thunder Bay Int’l Arpt; Windsor Int’l Arpt; Regina Int’l Arpt.

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  • brian

    Your writing style is very annoying. Why do you occasionally refer to yourself in the third person? It’s like reading a paper written by an 8th grader.

  • @Brian – sorry to annoy you. Some like it as a change of pace from the typical “I, I, I, me, me, me” blog.

  • aadvantagegeek

    I was hoping for so much more with the relaunch. I haven’t been this disappointed since the end of The Never Ending Story.

    Great post!

  • Christopher

    AWFUL PROGRAM! Pathetic and why bother. This terrible program (i.e., we’ll just screw you with the fine print bulls&%t) actually drove me away from Enterprise. I’ll never again rent from these cheap SOBs.

  • Theresa

    What a disappointment! I have accumulated over 85 rental days with Enterprise since their 3/1/2012 rewards program started. I went to use my points and I only had enough for 1 day credit off a week (5 day) mini-van rental. The total cost less my discount was over $400. It was actually $10 less to go through Hertz at full price. This program is useless!

  • John

    FYI: “The following changes to the terms and conditions of the Enterprise Plus program are effective February 14, 2013:

    Members can redeem points on most discounted corporate and promotional rates.
    Rentals that use a federal, state or local government-rate code or government contract ID are considered qualifying rentals.
    Members can activate their memberships to start earning points by creating online passwords for their accounts.”

  • @John – thanks so much for the update, a good improvement.

  • I joined the Enterprise reward program about a year ago. I’ve since rented about 9 times (mostly in Florida and California) for an average of one week per rental. Total points accumulated so far:

    ZERO.

    Why? Because even though I’d signed up, and received a package in the mail, and been issued a Membership Number, and used my Number with each and ever reservation, and checked at pickup and payment to ensure the Number had been applied, I apparently was ALSO supposed to log in to the website, navigate through a bunch of pages, find a hyperlink titled “Activate”, and click on it. I didn’t do that. Was I ever instructed to do that? Not that I recall. Never had to do that for Hilton HHonors, Southwest Rapid Rewards, Marriott, etc.

    So – zero points. And today, I rented from someone else. I’m so irritated that now I’ll pay extra to NOT rent from Enterprise if I have to.

  • @Steve – that is crazy, and they really won’t honor them?

  • Rapid Travel Chai –

    Thanks for your response, and no, I contacted them via the website and asked them to please reconsider. A few days later – well into my trip by that point, with a car from Thrifty instead – I received a response. but instead of just answering my question, they told me to phone them to discuss it, and they just gave me the main number. Listen, if it had been “yes” they would’ve just fixed it and told me, the request was simple and clear.

    I was busy and anticipated phoning the main number and getting the “press one for this, two for that, please hold your call is so very important to us …” and instead I found a computer, logged into the site, and just cancelled the account altogether, I’m just so fed up.

    I’m sick of getting the run-around from companies like this, I’ve been down that road before. Some are great – like the Hilton HHonors hotel points system, and Southwest Rapid Rewards, those are great programs, well managed and with clearly established expectations. But I’ve had inordinate amounts of time wasted over the years with garbage programs from companies that don’t know how to to do it, and I won’t waste any more time with that, I’d prefer to totally avoid companies that can’t just answer a simple email.

    I’d rather Enterprise never bothered with this stupid misleading rewards programs, I’d still be a customer. But not now. I’m done with them.

  • Chris

    I’m done with Enterprise, these guys are not consistent. So what company should I rent from in the future? I also think this reward program is crap!! I’m a platinum member. For the money I’m spending with these guys, I don’t think we have a balanced relationship.

  • @Chris – for service many people love National and I do too when it is a business trip my employer is paying for however for my leisure rentals I find them rarely competitive on price. For rewards the choices are quite limited, Hertz is the most generous day-to-day while National is great when it runs 1-2-Go, though the rest of the time National is rather stingy. Other companies have few or no rewards programs. So I focus on price and use portals like Capital One, Costco, etc, and where my plans are firm, Priceline.

  • Jamey

    yes, the activate things through me off too..
    I used my number to make the reservation from the enterprise websites, I verified it at check in, etc..

    thorugh many emails of complaining, they finally credited me for the rentals that I had before I clicked on that hyperlink “activate”
    I think what made them give me what I was entitled to was that I Told them it should not be a customers responsibility to read through pages and pages and then notice the “activate” button.. what is it that we are activiating anyway. after being issued a member number and using it to make our reservation.. I explained that no other “frequent flyer” type program asks customers to go to some button to push “activate”… why would we dedcie when to activate earning of points? there is no logical reasason..

  • @Jamey – glad to hear you eventually got the points. It is especially galling that they know this problem and choose to persist for the short-sighted gain of stiffing customer out of points until they realize the activation snag.

  • Steve

    And it’s amazing to me to learn that Jarney is still struggling today, in February 2014, with something I’d struggled with in May 2013. So apparently Enterprise doesn’t care that they’re aggravating people with that “activate” requirement.

  • Traveler

    I joined the plus program December 2013 and have had no issues with it so far. But I haven’t tried to redeem my points yet either. I travel for the government and all my rentals qualify for points. I have had great customer experiences with them so far. My only complaint is that their website is not designed very well. For example when you sign in to the plus rewards site, it will only show past activity and not future reservations. I also wish they had an app to use on my phone.

  • @Traveler – thanks for the update, I have not had as many rentals lately so have not checked it out. It is odd how bad the websites are for all the rental agencies.

  • Kirk

    I’ve been a member for over 1 year and I quickly rose to the Platinum Level. Yes, the point accumulation is slow – but I haven’t experienced any of the issues mentioned above. My ability to redeem points has been seemless – and I’ve even had redeemed points redeposited upon a cancellation. So – that’s the good, now the bad: it’s IMPOSSIBLE to redeem points at any location in person – only online. I think that’s silly… also – how do the agents know to treat you in a certain manner, ie: Platinum Member? Of all of the rewards programs I’m a member of – this has the least amount of rewards… nonetheless – the experience of it in general has been decent.

  • @Kirk – thanks for sharing the experience. When I do rent with Enterprise the rule with the premium lines at the counters seems to be whoever pushes to the front with or without status.