Back in November 2014 Avis announced changes to their loyalty program. However no changes were actually implemented.
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What changes does Avis have in store for Avis First
Avis is now planning ti implement changes or July 1st 2015. Avis First will change its name to Avis Preferred Plus. Instead of earning weekend rental certificates members will be able to earn Avis Preferred Points.
Until now Avis First members could earn a free two-day weekend certificate with four rentals that needed to span at least 2 days. There was a maximum of 8 such vouchers one could attain per year.
This existing earning structure will be replaced by this scheme:
Avis Preferred :
1 point per rental $ spent, 2 points per accessory $ spent.
Avis Preferred Plus (level attained after 12 rentals or 5000$ spent) :
1.25 points per rental $ spent, 2.5 points per accessory $ spent.
Avis President’s Club (level attained after 25 rentals or 7000$ spent) :
1.5 point per rental $ spent, 3 points per accessory $ spent.
Keep in mind that points will expire of 5 years.
If you have been an Avis First member you will earn as a Avis Preferred Plus member and get 1.25 points per $ spent.
Now we do not know yet what Avis Preferred Points will be worth – there is no award chart yet.
As for the weekend certificates – only rentals until June 30th count! Any issued weekend certificates will expire by September 30th 2015.
How can I sign up for Avis First?
For the old Avis First and new Avis Preferred Plus you could not sign up directly (under normal circumstance).
You can sign up for Avis Preferred through this link – last year as part of a promotion when signing up for this link you would automatically qualify for Avis First and just needed to activate the Avis First membership.
Now this might still work you should try! If not you will need 12 qualifying rentals or $5,000 in spend from on July 2015.
What is my personal experience with Avis First?
Most of my car rentals happen in San Francisco (mostly at the excellent Avis location at the Grand Hyatt San Francisco).
This is a tiny location and the check-in process is the same for all renters. Just the upgrade happen a bit more often for me.
If you rent at most airport locations you can directly go to your car and just select one car in the category you booked from the lot and drive it to the exit – however this takes away the personal interaction that allows for free upgrades. So I’m not sure it is really such a great thing unless you are very time pressed.
Outside of teh USA my experience has been wildly different. I rented at Avis Seychelles, which was a complete disaster. I was yelled at for 30 minutes and my car was ready for the recycling lot when I picked it up.
I recently rented at Avis at Irkutsk airport for my Baikal Tour and had a fantastic experience – my status was recognized, I was upgraded to an SUV and had the friendliest service ever (all in English!).
So overall I feel Avis First (or soon Avis Preferred Plus) is a great thing to have – but not a status you need to survive your travel.