This Car-Sharing Service May Be the Key to a Cheaper Car Rental

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Car rental prices are high, but there are alternatives that can help you save money when renting.

Thanks to COVID-19 vaccinations, more people are finally able to travel. But if you plan to rent a car in the near future, you may end up spending more than expected. With higher demand for rental cars, prices are on the rise.

Instead of using a traditional rental car company, a car-sharing service may be a smarter option. Keep reading to find out why one car-sharing service may be the key to a cheaper car rental for your next trip.

Car rentals are in demand, and prices are high

Due to the pandemic, many people weren't taking trips last year. Because of this, car rental companies decided to sell many of their vehicles. Now that more people are ready to travel again, there are fewer rental cars to go around, and there's a greater demand for any available cars. This means that travelers will now likely have to pay a lot for a rental car.

If you plan to rent a car from a traditional car rental company, try to reserve it as soon as possible to guarantee that one will be available. Doing this can also help you secure a lower price. However, even if you do reserve a rental car early, the price may be more than you have budgeted for your trip.

If you're not happy with the availability or prices, there are other rental options to consider. Using a car-sharing service to rent someone's car could be the answer.

Turo may be the key to cheaper car rentals

Turo is a peer-to-peer car-sharing marketplace. People list the vehicles that they own for travelers to rent. Think of it as the Airbnb of the car rental world.

You can search on Turo for cars in your destination area, and it will present you with locally owned vehicles available on your dates. There are all sorts of vehicles listed on Turo, from your standard rental to more unique options like sports cars and luxury vehicles.

You and the owner will plan a time to meet up so you can pick up the car when you arrive. You'll use the car just like you would a regular rental and then return it on your return date. Many car owners will come directly to you to handle pick up and drop off.

Using a car-sharing marketplace like Turo for a rental can make your rental car more affordable. So if you have a set vacation budget that you don't want to break, it's worth checking out the available vehicles.

Comparing rental prices

Looking at two popular travel destinations as an example, the prices on Turo are much lower than they are at Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

Let's say you're taking a trip to Los Angeles. Your trip dates are July 10, 2021, to July 18, 2021.

Enterprise: At the time of this writing, the cheapest rental option is $785.01 for a midsize vehicle with unlimited mileage. This would be to pick up and drop off the car at the LAX rental area.

Turo: With the same dates and unlimited miles, you could get a 2019 Toyota Corolla with unlimited miles for $320, picked up and dropped off 2 miles from LAX.

Winner: Turo offers a savings of over $450.

Now let's take a look at Miami. The dates are August 8, 2021, to August 14, 2021.

Enterprise: The cheapest rental option is $622.45 for a compact or economy vehicle with unlimited mileage. This would be to pick up and drop off the car at an MIA airport rental area.

Turo: With the same dates and unlimited miles, you could rent a 2018 Nissan Versa with unlimited mileage for $270. The car owner offers drop off and pick up at the airport.

Winner: Turo offers a savings of over $350.

Given the amounts you could save, it's a good idea to look into car-sharing services like Turo if you're planning a trip in the coming weeks and months.

What to consider before renting through a car-sharing service

Before you use a car-sharing service, you'll want to be mindful of a few things.

  • Visually inspect the car before you drive off so that you and the owner can agree on any pre-existing vehicle damage.
  • Beware of additional charges, including mileage and delivery fees.
  • Before you rent, check age policies. Turo requires renters to be at least 18 or 21, which is dependent on the rental chosen.
  • Be aware that some car classes may have a higher age requirement in place. When using Turo, drivers under the age of 21 will be unable to book a car with a market value over $20k, and drivers must be at least 25 to rent deluxe-class vehicles.
  • Check the fuel type so that you use the correct fuel when you fill up the car.
  • Treat the car with respect and clean up any trash before you return it to the owner.

Keeping the above in mind and knowing what to look for can make for a smoother rental process.

These tips can help you save on your next car rental

In addition to exploring car rental alternatives, these tips can also help you save on your next rental:

  • Book your rental car as far in advance as possible.
  • Be flexible with the car type.
  • Check for any discounts (AAA, AARP, military discount).
  • Look beyond airport rental options and use Uber or Lyft to get to the rental location.
  • Use a travel rewards card -- the rewards could help cut down on the cost of your vacation. You may also be able to save on rental car insurance.

It's also a good idea to set and stick to a vacation budget so that you can enjoy your trip without financial worry. And for more information on ways to make your money go further, check out our personal finance resources.

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