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Will You Love or Hate Hertz Ultimate Choice?

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

Almost two years after unveiling Hertz Ultimate Choice, the program is now available at more than 55 locations throughout the U.S. and Canada. Hertz did away with assigned cars for most rentals, and instead, let Hertz Gold Plus Rewards®, Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Five Star, Hertz Gold Plus Rewards President’s Circle, or The Platinum Card® from American Express Platinum members choose any car from a designated section after booking an intermediate vehicle.

You can choose any car from your designated section, even if it’s a higher-class vehicle than what you’re paying for. If you want to guarantee a higher class car, you can still reserve one in advance, but Ultimate Choice gives you a chance to drive something better, with an intermediate rate.

Those holding the United MileagePlus® Presidential PlusSM Card* or the United Club℠ Card, along with those holding Premier® Platinum status or higher, receive Hertz President’s Circle® status. Hertz Five Star® status is reserved for MileagePlus Premier Silver and Premier Gold members.

*A CDP offers car rental deals and discounts that aren’t available to the general public. They are usually offered to members of Hertz’s elite status programs, along with those holding certain credit cards or those with elite status in airline or hotel loyalty programs.

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The Platinum Card® from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express
on American Express's secure site
Terms Apply
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See Pay Over Time APR
$695
5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with
  • Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Plus, earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • $200 Hotel Credit: Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 in statement credits each month when you pay for eligible purchases with the Platinum Card® at your choice of one or more of the following providers: Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. Now there are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $25 back each month on select Equinox memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $179 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $179 back per year on your CLEAR® membership.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
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How Does LendingTree Get Paid?

LendingTree is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (such as the order). LendingTree does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.

Check out our review of the The Platinum Card® from American Express

What Ultimate Choice looks like in action

Here’s how Hertz Ultimate Choice looks at Newark-Liberty International Airport. Your name will be on the board, but instead of a stall number, you’ll see the zone you can choose from.
hertzucboard1
Then you can pick any car from your zone, like this one for President’s Circle members.
hertzucpc3
The selections in the President’s Circle row are mostly full-size cars with a few SUVs mixed in, so these aren’t jackpot upgrades from an Intermediate level.
hertzucpc14
But if you look deep down the row, there were two luxury options – an Infiniti Q50 and a Cadillac XT5, which are both great upgrades from an Intermediate rate.
hertzucpc16

hertzucpc15
There’s also a manual upgrade option.

You can pick any car in the Premium Upgrades section for an extra $25 a day as a President’s Circle or Platinum member, or $35 a day as any other member, even from a cheap Intermediate rate.

Here, you have a choice of a Range Rover Evoque and Mercedes GLS 450, both great upgrades, along with a less exciting Infiniti G50 that’s the same model already in the regular President’s Circle row.
hertzucupgrade11
If you’re a Five Star member, expect a lot of Standard cars and some compact SUVs.
hertzucfivestar7
And as a Gold member, you’ll get a mix of Intermediate to Full Size cars, without so many compact SUVs.
hertzucgold18

Is this a good deal if you’re willing to pay for better cars?

Upgrades with Hertz have been pretty inconsistent the last few years, so even as a President’s Circle member, it wasn’t a sure thing to get a decent car unless you booked a premium or luxury car outright.

Now, the negotiation involved of having to go to the counter to request a free upgrade is out of the picture. Upgrades to premium vehicles can be purchased or redeemed with Gold Plus Rewards points.

While it looks like Hertz is trying to stock the President’s Circle section with a few really nice cars, though there’s no real consistency. If you want consistency, the $25 upgrade isn’t a bad option from an Intermediate rate, but Hertz has started changing up its Prestige collection rates to be much cheaper than they once were.

Now, you can book a basic Intermediate rate, and pretty much be guaranteed a nice upgrade for $25 a day. It’s not as good a deal as President’s Circle was years ago, but it’s probably a much better deal now.

Here’s an example with an Intermediate for $79 a day.
hertzintermediate
And a typical upgrade option, an Infiniti QX80, is running $132 a day.
hertzprestige
So while you don’t get to choose your exact model ahead of time, which you would get if you reserved the full $132 rate upfront, you’ll pay only about $104 a day including the $25 upgrade fee if this happens to be one of the upgrade selections.

That said, since Ultimate Choice rolled out, Hertz has become a lot more aggressive about letting you reserve Prestige cars for much lower rates than before, so if you are planning ahead, the $25 upgrade fee might not be such a bargain, and booking a Prestige in advance like this Mercedes GLC at LAX for just $60 a day is a much better deal.
prestigelax

Is it a good deal if you can’t pay to upgrade?

You probably have around a 30% chance of finding a luxury or prestige car in the President’s Club aisle if you hunt long enough.

If you’re traveling for work and are restricted from paying for an upgrade, then it’s maybe not much worse or better than the hit-or-miss assigned upgrades before. At least you get a choice of cars and don’t have to stand in line at the counter to find something better.

But you may find a more consistent car selection at National Car Rental, which has been doing this for a long time and knows how to please frequent renters with a good selection.

Can you book a really cheap rate and select any car?

There are reports of people being able to book cheap Compact rates and getting to use Ultimate Choice.

Officially, Ultimate Choice is something you get on intermediate/midsize and above rentals, but Hertz is nothing if not inconsistent, so if you like a gamble, you might want to book the most rock-bottom rate you can, on the chance that you can pick anything from the Ultimate Choice section later.

Can you pick from a lower tier selection?

Let’s say you’re President’s Club and the pickings are slim. You can pick from the lower Five Star or gold tiers if you’d like – there are no restrictions on doing so.

Does any Counter Discount Program (CDP) work with Ultimate Choice?

Yes, this includes a four-hour grace period for returns on any rental.

In the end, the higher your status, the better car you can choose under Hertz Ultimate Choice. For those with lower status, it’s not impossible to get the premium cars offered by Hertz if you’re willing to do a little work and gamble, especially at some of the more popular airports.

The information related to the United MileagePlus® Presidential PlusSM Card and the United Club℠ Card has been independently collected by LendingTree and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.