My Experience Renting as a Hertz President’s Circle Member at Phoenix Sky Harbour International Airport

13 minutes

I have always been intrigued by Hertz President’s Circle status. There is something overtly visual about elite rental car status, as compared to airline elite status. With elite rental car status, you actually get the opportunity to see nicer cars in certain corners of the lot, whereas airline status is limited to those elitist airline luggage tags and free upgrades that aren’t always apparent.

I would get the opportunity to visit Phoenix Sky Harbour International Airport Rental Car centre and test out Hertz President’s Circle. Read on to see how our experience with Hertz in Phoenix actually looked like…

This post is one chapter on my brief trip to Scottsdale, Arizona, United States of America. This trip was enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status, Hertz Gold Plus Rewards and Air Canada’s Aeroplan. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

If you enjoyed this post, please follow us here or on social media through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for more travel tips and hacks on how to “Upgrade Your Travels”.

My Experience Renting as Hertz President’s Circle Member at Phoenix Sky Harbour International Airport.

I’ve maintained Hertz President’s Circle status for the past several years as a result of some heavy work travel. One of the primary benefits of Hertz President’s Choice is the Ultimate Choice aisle where you get to pick any car in the aisle and go. The marketplace has standardized this feature across many of the major rental companies in this space.

As I have previously written, for the most part, the upgrades have been pretty good, if not outstanding. While booking an intermediate car, we’ve been upgraded into Mercedes SLK Convertibles…

Getting Upgraded into a Mercedes SLK as a Hertz President’s Circle Member – Los Angeles International Airport

…even a great brand new Volvo V60 station wagon with less than 4,400 kilometres on the clock.

Getting Upgraded into a Volvo V60 Wagon – Hertz President’s Circle Vancouver International Airport

About Hertz Gold Plus Rewards:

Since this space is about loyalty programs, Hertz offers a loyalty reward program called Hertz Gold Plus Rewards. The program is primarily designed to keep your driver’s licence, credit card and insurance preferences on file to allow for quicker rentals that allow for bypassing the legal formalities of the rental counter in many locations and allow you to get out on the road faster.

Hertz Gold Plus Rewards also offers the ability to earn Hertz Gold Plus Reward points. While we didn’t typically get a lot of value from car rental points, they’ve recently delivered outsized value from travel when car rental prices escalated during the pandemic when many Hertz locations reduced their vehicle fleets, driving up car prices.

Hertz Gold Plus Rewards offers three tier levels of Gold, Five Star and it’s top tier President’s Circle. It’s around the Hertz Presidents Circle level where the benefits get interesting.

Hertz President’s Circle Benefits:

Hertz’s highest tier level is Hertz President’s Circle. Hertz Presidents’ Circle offers the following benefits:

  • Upgrades: Guaranteed
  • Hertz Gold Rewards points earning: $1 = 1.5 points
  • Hertz Ultimate Choice: Widest Selection
  • Dedicated Hertz Reservation Line

With reward redemptions starting at about 950 Hertz Gold Plus Rewards points, you’ll need a little bit of spend in order to get a free rental.

About Hertz Ultimate Choice:

My favorite feature of the Hertz rental experience is the Hertz Ultimate Choice feature found at airports where Hertz Gold Canopy service is offered.

Hertz Ultimate choice offers the ability to “pick from the best car in our newest fleet and go”. Airport locations in the united states offer the best versions of this, but there are select locations that do offer a great experience.

Hertz Car Rental Area – Toronto Pearson Terminal One

Typically, there is a sign board that designates the lot, along with a convenient monitor that indicates the location of your car. Dependent on the size of the lot, there is a correspondingly large zone.

Hertz President’s Circle Zone – Miami International Airport

There is also typically a sign information board that sets out the location of your car, in addition to any messages. Dependent on the size of the station correlates to the size and number of renters on the sign.

Hertz Information Board – Miami International Airport
Seeing “Presidents Circle” next to your name never really gets old
at Hertz Toronto Pearson International Airport

As a Hertz President’s Circle member, and as long as you rent an intermediate class car or better, I was able to choose any car in the aisle. As a result, there is usually something pretty good kicking around the lot.

Our Hertz’ President’s Circle Ride to the JW Marriott Miami
Picking Out an Infiniti Q50 as an Ultimate Upgrade

There are odd times when you get stuck with the usual boring junk, but it’s better than nothing. There are often a few compact Sport Utility Vehicles parked around, and usually a Dodge Charger or two.

Hertz President’s Circle – Ultimate Choice Section – Toronto Pearson

This leads me to my most recent entertaining experience renting from Hertz at the Phoenix Sky Harbour International Airport.


My Experience at the Hertz Phoenix Sky Harbour International Airport

I was coming into the Phoenix Sky Harbour International Airport on an Air Canada Business Class Vancouver. -Phoenix flight. With a short transfer needed to my hotel for the night at The JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa, I needed to pick up a rental car for the journey.

The Phoenix Sky Harbour Rental Cars are all located in the Phoenix Sky Harbour Rental Car Centre. This facility is located two miles or a six minute drive away from the primary Phoenix Sky Harbour International Airport terminals.

At the time of my visit, the two facilities were connected by rental car shuttle. While a train was in the final planning stages, it was not running at the time of my visit. As a result, all of the transfers to the Rental Car Centre were by bus.

Getting to the Rental Car Centre:

After disembarking from my flight, I headed through the airport to locate the rental car shuttle rank. I arrived into Phoenix Sky Harbour Terminal 3, and eventually headed downstairs towards the baggage claim and exits.

Navigating Through Phoenix Sky Harbour International Airport
Navigating Through Phoenix Sky Harbour International Airport

Getting outside, I ended up locating the shuttle rank outside on a centre island. Unfortunately, the convenience of an easy car rental was not working well for me today.

When I arrived to the car rental shuttle rank, I found a humongous line. The line probably had at least one hundred and fifty to above two hundred people in the line. The line wasn’t really moving, and was dependent on the arrival of shuttle buses in order to service and shorten the line.

Waiting in the Worst Queues to get to the Phoenix Rental Car Centre

The line had quite a number of elderly people in it. Many of them had assisted walkers and had some difficulty being mobile. There was a lot of discussion with others in line on whether it was better to take an Uber from the airport to the rental car centre. I ended up staying my ground, and eventually the line started to move.

Waiting in the Worst Queues to get to the Phoenix Rental Car Centre

After about fifty minutes, I was almost at the front of the line. I wasn’t really impressed by this point. Why there is an hour wait for a rental car shuttle in the middle of the day at the Phoenix airport is beyond me.

While I was waiting in line, I happened to see the advertisements for the future PHX SkyTrain, that was supposed to be operating “in 2022”. Since I was visiting on December 11, 2022, things weren’t looking all that positive for the PHS Skytrain opening that year.

Waiting in the Worst Queues to get to the Phoenix Rental Car Centre

I would later read that the PHX Skytrain would open on December 20, 2022, which was twelve days after my visit. Still, it appeared that they hadn’t ironed out the kinks in the shuttle service during my visit. This led to long delays.

Time Spent Getting to the Rental Car Centre: 60 Minutes.


Collecting the Vehicle:

After about one hour, I arrived to the Phoenix Sky Harbour International Car Rental centre courtesy of the complimentary shuttle bus from the Sky Harbour International Terminal Three loading zone. It was pretty busy surrounding the return terminal busses, and there was a long queue for those looking to go back to the terminal. I made a note to myself to make sure to get back early so I wouldn’t miss my flight.

Arriving to the Phoenix Rental Car Centre

It wasn’t too hard to locate Hertz, which had a prominent signage in the car rental centre. I headed straight up to the President’s Circle area of the lot to enjoy the Hertz Ultimate Choice experience. The Phoenix Sky Harbour International Airport was car rental centre was pretty well organized, after you got through the airport bus queue. With signs that Hertz Gold Members should head to the garage, I headed straight down the escalators.

Gold Member Directory “Proceed to Lot” – Hertz Car Rental Centre at Phoenix Sky Harbour International Airport
Descending the Escalators at Phoenix Sky Harbour Car Rental Centre

After descending the escalators, I went up to the Hertz Hold Member directory board. Hertz Gold Member directory board is usually a great way of getting to your car, or zone, pretty quickly.

Unfortunately, along with my long wait for the bus, my name wasn’t listed on the board at all. I usually take this as a bad sign, as there would be something impacting the reservation. As a result, I headed towards the office to sort out what was happening.

My Name was Missing from the Gold Member Directory Today
Locating the Hertz Office at Phoenix Sky Harbour

After I got into the office, I had to queue. There was only one person working, and they seemed to be in an explanation war over what it took to get “cash qualified” in order to rent a vehicle. There seemed to be some debate over the deposit, which was never a conversation that I’d expect to end quickly. Today happened to be one of those days where nothing was occurring quickly.

A Short Wait for Service

After about seven minutes of back and forth, the travelling couple were satisfied with their answers. Presenting myself to the counter, I showed my reservation. The clerk ended up just telling me that I had a pre-assigned vehicle.

I might add that I had booked myself into a Luxury car for this period. The premium was less than $20 USD for a nicer car, and I didn’t feel like rolling the dice on the President’s Circle upgrades. I’m not exactly sure why I ended up not having a space number identified on the Hertz Gold Member Directory sign.

Getting Assigned a Nice Mercedes CLK250
Getting Assigned a Nice Mercedes CLK250

Time Spent Lining Up to Get the Stall Number of The Assigned Vehicle: 7 Minutes.


Checking Out the Hertz President’s Circle Aisle:

Not counted in the overall time line, before I left, I happened to take a wheel through the Hertz President’s Circle aisles. Hertz President’s Circle members have access to the best selection of Ultimate Choice vehicles, and have the ability to choose any car in the aisles and go, provided they book an “I” (Intermediate) class or better.

Hertz President’s Circle Aisles at Phoenix Sky Harbour International Airport

The President’s Circle aisles were much better “stocked” than my experience at Hertz President’s Circle Las Vegas, where the aisles were almost completely empty. The Hertz President’s Circle Phoenix Sky Harbour had loads of American Domestic Sport Utility Vehicles, with the occasional Toyota Camry and Ford Mustang thrown in there for good measure.

Hertz President’s Circle Aisles at Phoenix Sky Harbour International Airport
Hertz President’s Circle Aisles at Phoenix Sky Harbour International Airport

There weren’t too many exciting cars and trucks in the Hertz President’s Circle aisles. I didn’t happen to see any BMW’s, Alfa Romeo’s or Tesla’s lurking around in this zip code. The most exciting cars were a Toyota Highlander and an occasional Nissan Maxima hiding amongst the aisles.

Hertz President’s Circle Aisles at Phoenix Sky Harbour International Airport

The Hertz Phoenix Sky Harbour had a much better selection of cars available, and was doing slightly better than average. While they had a lot of cars, where weren’t very many exciting ones within the selection that was available.

Trying to Get Out of the Garage:

After I had inspected the Florida Plated Mercedes CLK250 they had left me, I had to get out of the secure Hertz Rental zone. Like everything else happening that day, there was another queue to navigate.

This time the line up was for the front gate. I picked the shortest line, which was three cars deep and another eight minutes or so.

Trying to Leave Phoenix Sky Harbour Rental Car Centre
This is really painful by this point

The friendly agent took my driver’s licence and confirmed my rental car information and the mileage. After I was confirmed, I was on my way.

Time to get out of the Hertz lot: 8 Minutes

Adding up the time it took me to get from the airport to the car rental centre by bus, my wait at the counter, and the line to get out of the car rental area, the whole process took me approximately seventy five minutes; almost an hour and a half.


Returning at Phoenix Sky Harbour Rental Car Center:

After my visit to The JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa, my return process was much easier than my collection process.

I was able to locate some expensive gas at a gas station that appeared to be priced as double the regular rate a long block away from the rental car centre.

I was able to return the Mercedes into the Hertz Roving Return with my contract closed out without any challenges.

Surprisingly, there were also no waits for the Rental Car Shuttle bus. Although it took me an hour to get to the rental car centre, I walked straight on the bus headed back to the terminal.

On arrival, I located the compact but comfortable American Express Escape Lounge Phoenix, before my Air Canada flight home to Vancouver.

My Thoughts on Hertz President’s Circle at Phoenix Sky Harbour International Airport:

Somehow, I wasn’t expecting the rental car process at Phoenix Sky Harbour International Airport to take an hour and fifteen minutes to get from airport steps onto the road. I have usually had faster experiences.

Despite this, the Hertz location at Phoenix Sky Harbour Rental Car Centre offered a great selection of vehicles, and offered a much better variety than my last experience with Hertz President’s Circle Ultimate Choice at Las Vegas.

If you have visited Phoenix – USA, what was your experience with Hertz Ultimate Choice at Phoenix Sky Harbour ?

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