FORT LAUDERDALE -- Vanguard Car Rental USA, parent of the National and Alamo car rental brands, rolled out an enhanced version of Emerald Club, its frequent-renter program for National customers.

Targeting road warriors, Emerald Club was the car rental industry's first frequent-renter program when it debuted in 1987. It offered business customers paperless transactions and enabled them to choose cars off the lot.

The revamped Emerald Club offers three membership levels -- Emerald Club, Emerald Club Executive and Emerald Club Executive Elite -- based on the number of rentals made in a calendar year. Supporting the upgraded program is a Web site at www.emeraldclub.com.

Renters in higher categories earn free rentals quicker and qualify for guaranteed car upgrades. Executive and Executive Elite renters who book a car in the full-size-through-luxury-car categories will pay a rate below the category they reserve.

In addition, Executive Elite members can request vehicle pick-up and delivery to a noncommercial airport terminal.

William Lobeck, CEO of Vanguard, said the upgraded Emerald Club is part of the company's plans to re-create distinction between the two brands, promoting National to business clients and Alamo to leisure travelers.

ANC Rental Corp., National and Alamo's former owner, consolidated the two brands at more than 175 airports as part of its bankruptcy reorganization.

Last year, when ANC was acquired by Cerberus Capital Management, a New York-based private investment group, Cerberus decided to promote each brand separately. Cerberus runs National and Alamo under the name Vanguard.

To contact reporter Jorge Sidron, send e-mail to [email protected].

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