Back in June I said that National Car Rental would bring back their 1-2-Free promotion.

And indeed they have.

You earn a free rental day for every two qualifying rentals (mid-size or larger for 2 days or longer) between now and the end of January — that’s more than a five month earning period. And of course it is on top of the usual credits earned.

Registration is required. And there are opportunities to earn points towards additional free days. Each qualifying rental earns 300 points, 600 points is a free rental day. Lots of small point activities, hard to earn the 300 points needed for a credit. I’ll get 50 points for connecting to Facebook. Add virtual credentials, downloading and making a reservation via the mobile app, and that only gets to 200 total points.

Referring a friend is as good as a single qualifying rental (300 points). That you can do pretty easily. Although to earn the points the friend must not just register but also make a qualifying rental. You can earn 3000 total points this way.

I don’t generally do week long rentals (200 points) or rent from neighborhood locations (200). I do not plan to rent in Mexico (300 points), add fuel service (250 points), or rent a GPS (250 points).

I also don’t generally reserve a specific premium car class (“Emerald Reserve Service” for 25 points). Although I did pick up my 25 points for visiting the ‘Drive Alliance’ website to learn about how National, Enterprise and Alamo are tied together.

Here’s how to get easy rental car elite status including from National. And how to maximize National’s free rental days.

Unfortunately, of course, the free rental days earned via the 1-2-Free promotion are good for a full size car at best, regardless of elite status. That’s fine of course, just not as generous as the free rental days earned normally — Executive Elite members can reserve premium cars on those free days.


  1. Nick Knight said,

    Here’s a question – and hopefully it hasn’t been covered already … recently.

    I have a “free” day with Avis. If not that, then I get some kind of award here and use it for some other free day.

    Is it really free? Does my credit card still cover the car rental if there was no price involved? I suppose I also need to check with my State Farm agent. I believe that I’m covered there (but will make sure). However, what about the extra/primary coverage from a credit card?

  2. Nick Knight said,

    Sorry, by “cover”, I meant insurance. If you read the whole thing, that becomes sort of obvious, but I didn’t state this right up front.

  3. Gary Leff said,

    @Nick Knight you have to pay for a rental with your card for your card to cover it. Personally if I had an issue with the car I’d have the rental company remove the free day from the rental before checking it back in

  4. Daniel P said,

    One Two Free is a great promo, just a warning of something I learned last year: If you book a reservation with one of the free days from the promo and then cancel it, you lose the free day. I wasn’t aware of this and when I inquired genuinely thinking that it was a computer glitch, they informed me of the policy but to their credit put another free rental day in my emerald account. National has always made things right for me and has always been super easy to rent from at all locations I’ve used them at.

  5. dracs said,

    @Gary,

    Can the free days earned with this promotion be used to rent one ways?
    “Earned Free Rental Day coupons may be redeemed to cover base rate for a rental day but excludes taxes, governmentally-authorized or imposed surcharges, license recoupment/air tax recovery, concession recoupment fees, airport and airport facility fees, fuel, one-way rental charge, additional driver fee, or optional items, which shall be the responsibility of the renter.”

  6. J said,

    Do you have to pay to join the emerald club?

  7. Gary Leff said,

    @J – no

  8. Gary Leff said,

    @dracs I haven’t tried but i do not recall those being excluded.. standard free days with national can be used on one ways (but would not cover any dropoff charges that would apply)

  9. Mark S. said,

    @Gary — Executive Elite members may redeem “normal” free days (i.e., not One-Two-Free coupons) for any vehicle class, including luxury, specialty, etc. Your post seems to imply that these redemptions are limited to premium class and below.

  10. Gary Leff said,

    @Mark S – did not mean to suggest that at all, as an executive elite i’ve redeemed for luxury cars

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