Christmas Day, 1987. My brothers and I were sprinting out of church towards our shit-brown Ford escort station wagon to get home to the presents we opened earlier that morning. Only one problem – our father.
He was too busy showcasing his fancy new present we gave him – a reversible belt. Silky chocolate brown on one side and bad-ass Batman black on the other. Sharp.
Unfortunately, it didn’t motivate him to wear pants around the house anymore than we originally thought it would, when we bought it for him. Wouldn’t you know, when we got home, the old fart wasn’t 5 steps through our front door before his trousers were off and he was back in the uniform – undershirt, whitey-tighties and black socks. Sexy.
Now that you can’t un-know and are picturing my dear old dad in his skivvies, I’ll tell you about this amazing company, that is reversible as a new side-hustle to earn extra cash or flipped for those looking for a new life-hack to save money the next time you need to rent a car.
The company is called Turo. With coverage in 4,500+ cities and more than 300 airports, it’s becoming the Airbnb of cars. The idea is that a community of local car owners (for example, you) advertises to travelers (me) who want to rent at a reasonable price. I discovered Turo while searching for alternatives to the New York City car-sharing programs and major car rental agencies, who are charging crazy rates for just the base fare, and that doesn’t include taxes, insurance, overages on miles and fuel!
Here is how is works:
BROWN BELT SIDE-HUSTLING (RENT YOUR CAR)
For those of you who may not use your car often or are looking to make a few extra dollars on the side, listing your ride is simple and safe. [Disclaimer: I have never listed a car on Turo, only rented. Even still, I haven’t met one owner who wasn’t laid back or uncomfortable handing over their keys to a complete stranger.] Here is a quick summary of the key points every owner would want to know before listing.
Car Profile. Like a dating app, you need to pimp your car out in a profile. Fill in the required fields about you, your car and upload clean photos of the vehicle to attract maximum attention. Describe how sleek and comfortable the drive is. Don’t forget to mention any ancillary amenities such as car chargers, EZpass, flexfuel etc. Last but not least, make sure your calendar is up to date so travelers know which dates are available for rent. Here is a great example of a profile listing:
Price Determination. You may manually set your own daily price or Turo will set your car’s rental price based on it’s current market value, location, time of year and various other data points for optimal income. Supply and demand, PEOPLE!
Payment Terms. Turo will pay you via direct deposit within five days. You’ll earn 65% to 85% of the trip price, depending on the vehicle protection package you choose. You have the potential of earning up to 90% of the trip price if you waive the $1 million vehicle protection provided by Turo. Click here for the details of owner protection plans. Turo Fineprint: “All owners outside of the USA, and Ontario, Alberta, and Quebec in Canada must have commercial rental insurance for their customers.”
Distance/Fuel. You choose the mileage limit per day for travelers to use and the vehicle comes back with just as much gas as provided.
Stress Free. Take comfort in the fact that Turo screens all travelers before allowing anyone to take your baby. See “Verification” section below for more details.
Listing Cost. FREE! No monthly fees, no buy-in.
BLACK SIDE LIFE-HACK (RENT A RIDE)
Renting a vehicle that is tailored to your needs and at a reasonable price couldn’t be easier. I’ve been using Turo now for over a year and have had nothing but great experiences.
Signing Up. Turo can extract information from Facebook or Google if you have an account; otherwise, you need to enter specific data about yourself. Profiles with more personal info and social media links such as LinkedIn will appear more trustworthy.
Verification. Once you have submitted your profile to become an “Approved Driver”, you are authorizing Turo with written instruction to obtain your personal and/or business auto insurance score, credit report and/or conduct a background check, including criminal. According to the Terms of Service (last revised 14-December-16), the background checks are performed in accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, applicable consumer reporting laws, or any similar laws. Here is my verification (last person on earth without a Facebook account):
Search. This is the fun part. Enter in your trip specifics – pick up location, date/times and click search. The inventory of all available cars will be shown until you narrow down your search through the filters in the left sidebar as such:
If you are not finding exactly what you want, more filters are available for various features such as hybrids, all-wheel drive, ski rack, bike rack etc, vehicle types, and even colors. The options are quite extensive to accommodate everyone’s situation, just see for yourself…
Book. Once you select your vehicle of choice, a request is sent to the owner who will then confirm back to you the reservation. Done and done.
WHEN BEING PRACTICAL ISN’T FASHIONABLE
You just can’t have it all in life. Here are the times when Turo can
Reservation Delays. Turo displays a time estimate for how long is typically takes the owner to confirm your reservation. If you require same day travel plans or have plans contingent on the car rental, it might be a bit tight. In all of my experiences, no more than 1-2 hours to receive confirmation back which was fine for me since I was booking a week or so in advance..
Cancellation Fees: Turo allows renters to cancel their trips and the cancellation is effective immediately, less a penalty depending on the time of cancellation (See Cancellation Policy here for detailed fees). Pretty standard as with most reservations in life.
However, the owner cancellation is where I believe all the risk lies and can make or break your travel plans. Owners are required to notify the renter via on-site messaging at least 72 hours in advance, and process the cancellation through the Turo website or mobile app. The cancellation is effective immediately, and the traveler receives a complete refund.
Doesn’t sound bad for the traveler because of the full refund, but if the car is already rented and comes back the day before your reservation, smashed up beyond repair, you are left scrambling to make alternative arrangements.
Pickup and Drop-off. The majority of the time, the pickup and drop-off locations have been within a short walking distance of my home or a public transportation stop. Nonetheless, you need to read the profile carefully and understand where the car is located. Sometimes the cheapest option is cheap for a good reason. If you are that bothered by the location, most owners offer to have the car delivered to your door for a convenience charge of $10-$20.
I really haven’t had a terrible experience on Turo. Any issues were made whole immediately by Turo and/or the owner. I can see everyone’s situation being different, but it has always been reliable when I needed it and also saved me a ton of money. Finding these small wins in New York City is always helpful.