How to Rent a Car with Airline Miles

How to Rent a Car with Airline Miles

Many people are opting for road trips over airplane trips these days because of travel restrictions and health concerns. Airline prices have increased dramatically because of pent up demand and over a year of major losses. But that could leave you with a pile of unused airline miles that you don’t necessarily want to use for a flight. Instead of letting them go to waste, learn how to rent a car using airline miles instead. 

Renting a car with air miles entails checking for partnerships between airlines and rental car companies. Most major airlines partner with one or more rental companies, allowing you to redeem your rewards with either company. 

Here’s an overview of airlines and their partnerships.

car rental sign at airport

Southwest Airlines

Southwest’s Rapid Rewards programs lets you use your rewards points with the following car rental companies:

  • Alamo
  • Avis
  • Budget
  • Dollar Car Rental
  • Hertz
  • National Car Rental
  • Payless Car Rental
  • Thrifty Car Rental

Delta Airlines

With Delta Vacations, you can use SkyMiles to book your entire vacation, including car rentals. Book through the Delta Vacation portal, then choose “miles” as your form of payment. You can also earn points when you rent with one of the following Delta car partners:

  • Hertz
  • Dollar Car Rental
  • Thrifty Car Rental
  • Alamo
  • Enterprise
  • National Car Rental

American Airlines

The AAdvantage program from American Airlines also lets you redeem your miles for a car rental instead of a flight. American partners include:

  • Alamo
  • Avis
  • Budget
  • National

United Airlines

United’s MileagePlus program allow you to book rentals at the following companies;

  • Hertz
  • Dollar Car Rental
  • Thrifty Car Rental

Air miles to rental car conversion rates

You’re probably wondering how many airline miles do you need to rent a car? The answer for this largely depends on the airline itself. Each one has a different conversion rate. Log onto your airline membership account to view how many miles you have and how they convert to car rentals. Plug in potential dates to find out how many air miles to rent a car for a week.

Since most airlines partner with more than one car rental company, you can compare multiple options for your trip. You’ll also likely see different rates for paying now versus paying later. If you’re confident your trip dates won’t change, it may be worth the savings to pay upfront. But if you’re unsure of your trip details, then the higher “pay later” cost may be worth it. 

So how many air miles does it take to rent a car? The answer depends on the airline itself and what type of conversion rate it offers for its rewards points. 

Pros and cons

There are both benefits and drawbacks to using your airline miles to rent a car. First, your miles may come with an expiration date. If you’re not planning an upcoming trip that requires a flight, a car rental is a great way to make sure you don’t lose those points. Not only do you use up your air miles, you also earn new points when you reserve through your airline’s rewards program.

On the flip side, conversion rates can vary greatly depending on the airline and rental car company. You may be surprised by the number of miles it actually takes to book a rental car. Additionally, you may only be able to make non-refundable reservations.

Rent with Avail

Using your airline miles for a car rental can be stressful. You’re limited to using certain companies and you probably won’t get a great conversion rate. If you’re not facing a looming expiration date, you may be better off saving your miles for a flight, or exploring other booking opportunities like hotels. 

A better solution is renting your car with Avail. It’s a stress-free process that lets you pick up a rental car straight from the airport. Plus, pricing is competitive and there are no hidden fees — not even for adding a second driver or being under 25 years old.

Plus, Avail offers free cancellations, so you won’t lose any of your money just because plans change. Every rental also comes with full coverage from Allstate, saving you from adding on optional plans you may or may not need. Even if you book with a debit card, you’ll experience the full suite of benefits.