My Stupid Mistake Left Me With Points I’m Never Going To Use

by joeheg

Sometimes I’m too good about taking my own advice.

I’ve written about how everyone should sign up for car rental loyalty programs and I stand by that advice. However, I need to add some additional information. You also need to keep your account information up to date once you sign up or you might end up earning points you don’t really want to earn.

Let me explain.


For one of our last pre-COVID car rentals, AutoSlash saved me a ton of money and Dollar Car Rental gave me the best rental car upgrade I’ve ever received.

In the article about the upgrade, I mentioned that I went to the counter because it had been a long time since I’d rented from Dollar. It was so long, in fact, that my credit card on file with them had expired. No problem, I paid with mySapphire Reserve, which gives 3x points for travel expenses and provides primary insurance for rentals.

After the rental, I was considering where I could credit the rental because car rentals are one way I keep accounts from expiring.

That was until I updated all my accounts in AwardWallet. I earned 56 points I wasn’t expecting.


I checked my Dollar Express account. Drats!!!!!

In the Dollar Express program, you earn one point per dollar spent per rental. If you’re paying attention, you know that my rental cost was $149.07.  So why did I only earn 56 points?

Screenshot 2019-08-16 10.16.30

That’s because you only earn points based on the rental rate, not on taxes and fees.

Well, I’m sure Dollar points are worth something. Right? Tell me they’re worth something. Please. Don’t tell me I earned worthless points—anything but that.

We value our loyal customers and make sure they know it. With Dollar Express Rewards you can earn points towards free car rentals. For every qualifying U.S. $1 spent, you earn 1 point. A free weekend car rental starts at just 500 points. Redeem your points online at any participating Dollar location in the U.S. and Canada. Join now.

Only 444 more points until a free weekend rental day


I was kicking myself because I didn’t go into my Dollar account and set my preferences before the rental. There are plenty of other places I could have credited my rental:

I could have earned:

  • 50 Alaska miles per rental day
  • 300 ANA miles per rental
  • 50 American miles per rental day
  • 50 Avianca miles per rental day
  • 500 Delta miles per rental
  • 500 Emirates miles per rental
  • 50 Frontier miles per rental day on 1-4 day rentals and 500 miles for rentals of 5 days or more
  • 300 Japan Airlines miles per rental
  • 600 Southwest miles per rental
  • 50 Spirit miles per rental day on 1-4 day rentals and 500 miles for rentals of 5 days or more
  • 50 United miles per rental day on 1-4 day rentals and 500 miles for rentals of 5 days or more
  • 125 IHG points per rental day

Any of these I would have valued more than 56 Dollar Express points. One thing to note is that Dollar will add a fee if you choose to earn points in most partner programs. You can find the details of each program on Dollar’s website.

So what did I learn? I know that I need to go into my rental car accounts to update my information and rental preferences before each rental. If I don’t, I’ll end up with points I have no use for and that’s almost as bad as not earning no points at all.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Nathan September 1, 2019 - 3:34 pm

There is such a thing as Travel Points Compulsion Syndrome. Relax. Think of all the good deals you have done instead.

joeheg September 1, 2019 - 6:33 pm

No need for an intervention. When things like this happen, I have a d’oh moment and then switch to thinking about how I need to write and warn people so they don’t make the same mistake I did.

Ben September 1, 2019 - 3:57 pm

Sorry but this is a clickbait. Nobody should waste their time on 50 points. If it’s less than 1,000 points you should generally forget about it. Sad that you’re encouraging people to care about every single point regardless of how much time they’ll waste trying to get those tiny amount of points. You need to start focusing on something more worthwhile.

joeheg September 1, 2019 - 6:32 pm

Sorry that you thought the article was clickbait. Glad to see that you’re in a position where nothing less than 1,000 points is important. In response, I’d say that I see posts all the time from people who are 50, 100 or 500 points short for an award and are frantically trying to find a way to add to their account before space goes away. No points are a waste of time, especially if all it takes is less than 2 minutes to log into your account and set your preferences to earn points that you’ll actually use.

dale r September 1, 2019 - 7:13 pm

These small points amounts are also valuable for extending points expiration.

lenin1991 September 4, 2019 - 10:25 pm

Some of those other crediting options are barely worth the additional fee it imposes: those 600 Southwest points would have cost you $6, 200 United miles would have cost $3, or 200 Alaska miles would have cost $3.80. The only great deals are American at 12 cents for 200 miles or IHG 500 points for no fee.

joeheg September 4, 2019 - 11:38 pm

Thanks for breaking that down. However, if I needed to keep Alaska miles active, spending $3.80 might be a bargain. At least getting 500 IHG points is the same as I get as a Platinum amenity when I stay at one of their properties. 🙂

PatB January 22, 2021 - 8:28 pm

Thanks for the heads-up! I’ve recently been going through my rewards programs to clean things up, use orphaned points, etc., I hadn’t thought of car rental memberships..


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