One of the really unique benefits of the United Club Card has been Avis Car Rental status.

This benefit dates back to the Continental Presidential Plus Mastercard, and carried over to the United Club card — the pricey co-branded card which bundles lounge access.

Avis offers four status levels:

  • Preferred – the base level where your information is on file and you go straight to the car
  • AvisFirst – the only elite level you can ‘earn’ through rentals, it lets you accumulate free rental days
  • Presidents Club – guaranteed availability and two car class upgrade
  • Chairmans Club – best (non-specialty) car on the lot when you rent mid-size, get driven back to the terminal instead of riding the bus, they’ll deliver a car within 20 miles, and an unpublished benefit that many though not all receive is market rate for gas without prepaying a tank

United Club card members received Presidents Club status with their cardmembership. And since you can’t even earn that status, it’s relatively rare enough that often times the benefits in practice were better than those which were published.

You could get the status along with significant corporate rental contracts, or as an American Express Centurion (black card) cardholder.

But now the page where United Club Card cardholders sign up for the benefit carries this notice:

So the Avis Presidents Club benefit is going away. On January 28, United Club Card members will only be able to sign up for ‘AvisFirst’. And existing Club Card members with Presidents Club status are slated to be downgraded to AvisFirst on April 1.

It’s a benefit that’s been around for more than five years, so I don’t really have an explanation of why it’s going away. And interestingly, older link I blogged about years ago has been updated to show United rather than Continental but doesn’t include the notice that the offer is disappearing.

In the past they allowed signups without actually verifying that one was a United Club Card holders, although on occasion with the Continental card they would eventually match up their lists against Chase’s lists although that process was an imperfect one.

Sad to see this benefit disappearing on many, many levels.

  1. Joelfreak said,

    This will make me cancel my card. I have the Chase Pd card, and it can give me the same United Club benefit. Without the Avis PC, there is no reason to keep this card.

  2. DrewBird said,

    Just a clarification: this is the United CLUB card, not the United Explorer card.

    IE, it is the more expensive of the two Chase United offerings — correct?

  3. MileageUpdate said,

    Gotta love the “enhancements”.

  4. HangingChad said,

    @DrewBird – yes this is the MP Club Card ($395 annual fee).

    I agree with Joelfreak – I will cancel my card in the near future because of this. I really enjoy the Avis PC status that came with the card.

  5. Gene said,

    @Gary — So can anyone still sign up for the free status?

  6. schmerj said,

    @Gene: Yes, you can. I’ve have the card since June, but just signed up for Avis PC a couple of days ago. My status was updated yesterday.

  7. Tech Trainer said,

    First, thanks for the helpful info. The PC status was really fun. I scored a Volvo S80 last weekend for the price of a full size. Looks like I might score an Infiniti G37 this weekend. I’ve also been upgraded to a BMW X5, a Hyundai Genesis, etc. But I’ve learned that those cars aren’t really all that different when you’re stuck in traffic. Ultimately, I think I’ll be fine abandoning Avis when this benefit dies off.

  8. Farhad said,

    I’m actually glad they did this — I was worried that the Avis PC population was getting oversaturated, leading to benefit dilution. Now it remains a fairly premium status

  9. Andrew said,

    @farhad it’s going away completely right? Is there another way to get PC?

  10. Brian L. said,

    The 1.5 miles per $ and the access to the United Club make the card worth the annual fee, IMO. Everything else is just icing on the cake.

  11. Farhad said,

    @Andrew – my understanding is that it’s fairly difficult to get. As Gary said, Amex Centurion confers the status and some corporate renters might get it. I thought there was another credit card or two out there that offered the status (Ritz Carlton card from Chase?) but I’m not positive

  12. FlyingBear said,

    @Farhad

    So many people were paying $395 a year just to be AVIS PC? I have trouble believing that.

  13. HangingChad said,

    Personally, I was paying $395 for access to United airport club lounges, but the Avis PC status was a very nice added benefit. Most of the other benefits are very minor for me (Hyatt Platinum status, 1.5 miles per dollar, etc). Even though I matched to EXP on AA, I would have kept the card for the times that I do fly United and the Avis benefit.

  14. Rolling Ze Dice said,

    This is a real bummer. I was just on my honyemoon, and Avis Presidential saved my late-planning behind!

  15. Joelfreak said,

    The ability to force a car reservation when you could not get one (try during Sandy in NYC) was a lifesaver, and paid for the card many times over. Avis First doesn’t have that ability. Is there any rental car company that will match the Avis status for anything special? I have National Executive and Hertz Five Star, but none of those allow for a reservation force either.

  16. ptahcha said,

    Ugh – this is just annoying. I was Avis First before and it does not get you jack, other than the ability to earn free rental certificates after X number of rentals.

  17. Farhad said,

    @FlyingBear I don’t think it’s quite like that. Whatever reasons individuals had for paying for the card, those were their own reasons. However, they all got PC status whether or not it was their primary motive for having the card or whether they couldn’t care less.

    With that in mind, I’d say that with prices being roughly similar, people pick their vendors where they get benefits. If Hertz and Avis had virtually similar rates but you figured you’d get a nicer upgrade b/c of your Avis PC status, wouldn’t you pick Avis?

    If more people shifted their car renting to Avis by virtue of the fact that they had PC status, Avis had to “distribute” more elite benefits such as upgrades (of which there are a finite number). This diluted the pool for other PC members.

    Like you said, I highly doubt there were people paying the annual fee just for the status. But the fact that it was there likely encouraged some shift of business to Avis. Good for Avis, bad for me. Now there will be less competition for the finite number of upgrades each location has.

  18. Paul said,

    Use Hertz.

  19. Snow said,

    I’m disappointed. The Avis President’s Club benefit helped me justify the high annual fee on the United Club Card.

  20. Kidder said,

    I used the Avis Presidents status to get a presidents circle status match with Hertz. Will this change affect the Hertz status?

  21. Rob said,

    Interesting. I have that benefit but certainly never noticed it with Avis. Guaranteed availability is nice, but I always book in advance (sometimes just a few minutes in advance, from the airport terminal) and I only ever *want* small cars. Oh well… I guess it’s a big deal for some folks.

  22. Gary said,

    @Rob it is a huge deal when every car rental company is ‘sold out’ and they are willing to bump someone else to give you a car

  23. What’s in My Wallet? Figuring Out What Cards to Keep, Churn, or Cancel said,

    […] but the club access and 1.5 miles is valuable. It was more worthwhile before they announced the Avis President Club Status is being discontinued. Decision: Keep for […]

  24. bob said,

    I was a Centurion holder but did not think the increasing cost and decreasing benefits justified the card, so cancelled it. I only got the United card for the AVIS PC benefit and associated great car upgrades. I will cancel the card.

  25. dave said,

    the presidential plus card still has the benefit

  26. Time to Cancel the MileagePlus Club Visa After All - Hack My Trip said,

    […] I have Diamond status with Hyatt. Anyone with the aforementioned Hyatt Visa also gets Platinum status. My American Express Platinum Card offers Avis Preferred status, which is lower, but it also provides status with Hertz and National, which I prefer. (The one great benefit this card used to have was Avis Presidents Club status, but that was downgraded.) […]

  27. tivoboy said,

    Any way to get spouse benefits with a card like this?

  28. dave said,

    i am so glad i had the presidential plus card and not the club card the avis presidents club is safe with the presidential plus card

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