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Want to achieve elite status in your favorite car rental rewards program? It can instantly make you feel like a VIP by unlocking a bevy of perks, from free upgrades and skip-the-line service to discounts and extra points.

The traditional method of earning elite status comes through racking up a required number of paid car rentals. But there's an easier and free way to zoom to elite status, and you might be entitled to it without even realizing it.

 

Car Rental Rewards Programs and Status Matching

 

Status matching lets you instantly leapfrog into elite status without having to rent your way there. Sometimes if you have the right credit card or have elite status in a hotel or airline reward program, you can often automatically gain elite status in a car rental rewards program. Or sometimes elite status in one frequent renter program can entitle you to elite status in a competitor's program. This is a fantastic strategy for occasional renters, since it lets you get to the top of the mountain without having to make the climb.

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Here's the lowdown on status matching with major rental car rewards programs.

Alamo There's no status matching program, but frequent renters can join Alamo Insiders, which lets you acquire points through a a handful of partner programs, including American Airlines AAdvantage, Delta SkyMiles, Southwest Rapid Rewards, Hilton Honors, Best Western Hotels & Resorts and more.

Avis The rewards program, called Avis Preferred, offers one of the most extensive status matching programs. Some premium credit cards, including Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, American Express Platinum and World Elite Mastercards, offer free Avis Preferred Plus status as a travel benefit.

You can also earn points through scores of partner programs, including American Airlines AAdvantage, Southwest Rapid Rewards, World of Hyatt, Choice Privileges and more.

You can get status matching to Avis Preferred Plus if you have elite status with competitors Enterprise, Hertz or National.

Budget While there is no formal status matching program for Budget Fastbreak, you can accrue points through partners such as American Airlines AAdvantage, JetBlue TrueBlue, Southwest Rapid Rewards, Choice Privileges, Wyndham Rewards and more.

Dollar There is no status matching program for Dollar Express, but your points can be counted toward airline frequent flyer programs (Alaska Air, American, Avianca, Delta, Emirates, Frontier, Gulf Airlines, Southwest and United) or the InterContinental Hotel Group's IHG Rewards program.

Enterprise You can get status matching in the Enterprise Plus program if you have elite status with competitors Avis or National.

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Hertz: The rewards program, called Hertz Gold Plus Rewards, offers status matching through a variety of ways. Some credit cards, including American Express Platinum and the United Club Card, deliver free Gold or President's Circle status as a travel benefit.

You can also earn points with Hertz if you have elite status with Delta Skymiles, United Airlines MileagePlus, Marriott Bonvoy, IHG Rewards and more.

Finally, you can get status matching if you have elite status with competitors Avis, Enterprise or National.

National: Emerald Club offers perhaps the most robust matching program of all. Some premium credit cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, American Express Platinum and World Elite Mastercards, offer Emerald Club executive status as a travel benefit.

You can also get status matching through dozens of partners, including American Airlines AAdvantage, Delta SkyMiles, Southwest Rapid Rewards, Hilton Honors, Radisson Rewards and more.

Sixt: The World Elite Mastercards offer matching to Platinum status in the Sixt Rewards program. Other partners that offer status matching include Delta SkyMiles, Hilton Honors, World of Hyatt as well as competitors such as Avis and Hertz.

Thrifty While there is no formal status matching program for Thrifty Blue Chip, your points can be counted toward airline frequent flyer programs (Alaska Air, American, Avianca, Delta, Emirates, Frontier, Gulf Airlines, Southwest and United) or the InterContinental Hotel Group's IHG Rewards program.

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