Whether it’s a complimentary weekend rental, an upgrade to a better hire car or even free airport lounge membership, the Europcar Privilege program packs quite a punch for the frequent road warrior.
Unlike Hertz or even your typical frequent flyer scheme, Europcar does away with points entirely – instead rewarding travellers in line with how often they loan a car rather than how many points they manage to accumulate.
That sounds like a bad idea at first, yet it serves to make the program easier to understand in that you don’t earn points that have to be swapped for a reward: you just earn rewards.
And, if you're a Gold or Platinum frequent flyer in Virgin Australia's Velocity program, we'd recommend taking the free Executive or Elite status with Europcar – here's why.
Europcar Privilege 101
All new members start their journey with a green Privilege Club card after joining the program for free via the Europcar website:
Right off the bat, that gives you access to the priority collection desk when grabbing your keys: just bring your driver licence and you’ll be all set.
Your reserved car is also guaranteed to remain available should you be delayed – oddly, not something offered to non-members – plus you’ll get 10% off at Sofitel, Pullman, Novotel, and Mercure hotels worldwide.
Even if you don’t normally hire cars, it’s worth joining the program for the Accor discounts alone!
Club-level membership also gets you a $15 discount to use on a future rental after two 'leisure' hires, and after three separate leisure rentals in a single year you’ll also get a free car for the weekend.
(‘Leisure’ hires are those booked on standard, publically-available rates, rather than on corporate or promotional booking codes.)
Europcar Privilege Executive
After hiring 10 cars or renting for a total of 40 days in a two-year period, you’ll move up to Privilege Executive status:
That brings with it another free weekend hire, along with free one-category upgrades to a more expensive vehicle type every time you rent with Europcar (subject to availability) and a free $30 Europcar voucher following your fifth leisure rental as an Executive cardholder.
In your second year of Executive membership, you’ll earn a further weekend rental after your third leisure hire in that calendar year.
As you can see, the free benefits start to add up and quickly turn into completely free hire cars. Whether you use that perk to take a quick weekend road trip or to zip around town while your regular car is being serviced is entirely up to you.
Europcar Privilege Elite
Reach a total of 25 hires or 85 days of car rental in a two-year period and you’ll be bumped up to Privilege Elite status:
When that happens, you’ll get – wait for it – another free weekend rental, while your upgrade perks are improved to deliver free double-category upgrades as opposed to the next-best vehicle type as you'd been receiving as an Executive guest.
You can also add a second driver onto your reservations at no extra charge, which is handy if you’re travelling a long distance with a colleague or partner and want to share the driving while remaining within the bounds of your insurance cover.
That’s followed by a $45 discount voucher after your fifth leisure hire, and the same ‘free weekend rental’ perk after your third leisure outing per calendar year – if you didn’t already earn that benefit while at a lower tier of membership.
Europcar Privilege VIP
Topping the ranks is Privilege VIP status and its impressive-looking black card, which is awarded after hiring 40 cars over two years – roughly once per fortnight.
As dished out when moving through the lower tiers, a seemingly-standard ‘free weekend upgrade’ certificate is again sent your way after stepping up to VIP.
You’ll also get a free Priority Pass Standard membership (worth US$99) that opens the doors to over 700 airport lounges across the globe, but there’s a catch: Europcar provides just one free lounge – after which you’ll be billed US$27 per visit thereafter.
Europcar’s ‘ToMyDoor’ collection and drop-off service is another free once-a-year perk, but the benefit is offered only in selected European cities rather than in Australia.
And even then, as most business travellers likely hire a car as they arrive at the airport and return it just before flying out, the benefit is moot if not irrelevant.
On the plus side is a $45 voucher after your fourth leisure rental as an Elite VIP, but overall the top-tier status provides Aussie travellers with little more than they’d enjoy at the lower Elite level.
Earning frequent flyer points with Europcar
Members of Virgin Australia’s Velocity Frequent Flyer scheme can reel in Velocity Points when hiring with Europcar – whether that’s on a public or corporate rate.
Bookings made by your employer under the company’s discount code accrue two Velocity Points per dollar spent on time and kilometre charges within Australia and New Zealand, and a flat 400 Velocity Points per rental in all other countries.
On standard rates (leisure rentals, as defined above), that jumps to three points per dollar on all charges on home soil and across the pond, and a flat 800 points everywhere else.
Silver, Gold and Platinum members also earn extra points when hiring cars in Australia and New Zealand: currently 50% more at the Silver level, a 75% boost for Gold and a 100% bonus for Platinum – totalling six points per Aussie dollar spent.
Points aren’t earned on Europcar’s raft of fees and extras including damage liability cover, optional insurance, vehicle registration fees, premium location fees, admin fees, taxes/GST, one-way fees, age surcharges, additional driver fees and equipment hire such ski racks, baby booster seats or GPS rental costs.
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