National Brings Back One Two Free Promo For 2016

Filed Under: Rental Cars

National Emerald Club is back with their most lucrative promotion, One Two Free.


The promotion is valid for rentals between August 25, 2016, and January 31, 2017. Registration is required prior to the first rental in order to qualify.

Through this promotion you earn a free one day rental after every two rentals in the US of a midsize or larger car lasting at least two days. There’s no limit to the number of free rentals you can earn.

Maximizing One Two Free

I personally find it borderline-bizarre that National runs a single promotion for nearly half the year. Compared with hotel promos, which generally run several times a year for a few months (at most), or the ever-diminishing airline promotions, it’s interesting to see something that lasts for six months at a time.

Not like that’s a bad thing, I just find it fascinating, and it provides some great opportunities. My typical strategy is to pay for rentals during One Two Free, and then use the free days in the other half of the year.

It can also make sense to accrue rentals in cheap markets, and redeem in expensive markets, but as almost all of my car rentals are for one-way drives between San Diego and LAX that doesn’t really apply to me.

Unlike the standard rewards program, One Two Free is points-based, whereby certain activities earn points. These range from booking through the mobile app or referring a friend to earning points on each rental. You still earn rental credits as you typically would, so this is above and beyond your standard points-earning.

Each qualifying rental earns 300 points, and each time you reach 600 points, you will be awarded a Free Rental Day coupon. There are lots of other ways to earn points as well:


Perks of National Emerald Club

If you haven’t used Emerald Club in the past, the main benefit worth knowing is that you go directly to the car at most airports. You choose whatever car you like in your designated zone, and then present your credentials at the exit to the parking lot.

If you’ve ever stood at a rental counter during a popular time you can probably appreciate what a huge timesaver this is, and it’s definitely worth the few minutes it takes to sign up.

You also accrue credits towards free rentals, and as the program has expanded to more markets this becomes more valuable. Really I just like not having to wait in queues to pick up keys to a rental car though.

Shortcuts To Emerald Club Status

National Emerald Club offers a status match program, which is an easy way to attain Executive or Executive Elite status. This gets you better cars, and a better earning rate on your rentals.

  • Hertz Gold Five Star, Avis First, and US Airways Chairman’s and Platinum Preferred are all eligible for Emerald Club Executive status
  • Hertz Gold President’s Circle and Avis President’s and Chairman’s Club members can be matched to Emerald Club Executive Elite status

Alternatively, a few credit cards offer elite status as cardholder perks.

WorldElite Mastercard holders can receive automatic Emerald Club Executive status. Those cards include:

WorldElite Mastercard products

The American Express Platinum cards also offer the option to enroll online, or you can call the number on the back of your card to activate Emerald Club Executive status. This includes all the Amex Platinum cards, and authorized users should be eligible as well:

Amex Platinum cards

The new Chase Sapphire Reserve supposedly offers some National benefits as well, but I’m not 100% positive as to how that is working in practice.

Bottom line

This is old news for those of you who frequently rent cars, but it can be a compelling promotion for many people. Given that National is offering several ways to earn points outside of rentals, there are some good opportunities to maximize One Two Free.

Does anyone else look forward to One Two Free? How do you maximize the promo?

  1. Can you include the expiry of the free days as well?
    Last year I did the stupid mistake of not seeing the T&C and let my 7 free days ruin to death. Hopefully others will not do the same mistake.

  2. Quick questions:

    1) Can you redeem the free nights only in the US, or at any National location?

    2) Do the free rentals have to be an airport rental, or is a neighborhood rental allowed?

    3) How does insurance work on a free rental? I see in the T&C is says:

    ” Please check your auto insurance policy and/or credit card agreement for rental vehicle coverage. ”

    Any word on how Chase handles that when you’re not actually paying the rental charge?

  3. @ PhatMiles — If you add your National account to AwardWallet, they’ll keep track of expiration dates for you. That has saved me many times!

  4. @ Nico — 1) I think any — I’m using one in Munich next month. Pretty sure it’s a OneTwoFree voucher and not a “normal” free day.
    2) Neighborhood is definitely allowed, as long as it’s still National
    3) That’s a great question. I still rent with my CSP, and hadn’t really thought about it. My logic has been that I am “paying fully” with my CSP, the rate just happens to be $0 plus some small taxes at some locations.

  5. Right – that would be my logic, too. Unless I were trying to deny a claim. Then I wonder if that just might be murky enough…..

    Not that I’ve heard many stories about Chase trying to deny claims, just figured I’d ask in case the answer were a “known known” as the saying goes.

  6. When someone uses their credit card for national status and it expires at the end of the year, do I just call the number again and get the status back or is it a 1 time thing?

  7. I have been renting since August 2016 but didnt see this promotion until today (Dec) and just signed up? Any chance they can make it retroactive?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *