The “Airbnb” of cars is here and it’s been here but right now it’s having its moment.
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What Is Turo?
Turo has been called the “Airbnb” of car rentals, and while I hate to say that it’s the “x” of “industry group” it’s the fastest way to explain it. Turo allows vehicle owners (“hosts”) to rent out their own vehicles on the Turo website at a rate of their choosing. Turo collects a commission for hosting the listing, taking payment, and arranging insurance with vehicle owners collecting 15-40% for their services and access to the car-sharing marketplace.
Turo makes it easy to see how much your car could be worth on a monthly basis with its “carculator.” Below is an example of an entry-level 2018 BMW 328 xDrive in Denver, CO.
I looked at what the current payment on the example car would be. At 5% interest on a 60-month term with a $28,000 acquisition price, an owner can certainly earn extra money renting out their own car. I have a friend in Hawaii that built his business first with Turo and then expanded into his own Jeep rental company so it can definitely grow into a standalone business.
This vibrant community allows hosts to rent out their vehicle while they are out of town or if they have an excess car, truck or SUV.
When Is Turo Most Valuable?
When I was traveling for work every other week, Turo would have made a lot of sense. The monthly cost of my own vehicle was already part of my expenses, turning revenue from that for half the month would have been more or less, free money. For car owners that have an extra vehicle, this could also be a good source of extra cash every month.
For renters, Turo is perfect for a few key situations.
For example, let’s say that you’re taking a road trip but need a specific car; traditional car rental companies allow renters to choose from a selection of cars. An Intermediate car may be a Hyundai Sonata or similar but what you find when you arrive might be very different. The trunk space in a “full size” Ford Fusion is far smaller than a Chevrolet Impala so if that’s why you are renting that size car, you may be disappointed when you arrive at the rental counter. Turo is a specific car and you’ll know exactly what it is before you rent it.
Another reason renters find Turo valuable is when demand increases dramatically for a particular area and elevates prices. Turo owners set their own pricing and the savviest ones will shop the market to ensure they are in line with the cost to book cars in their area. But an owner would have to frequently check rates to stay on top of changing prices and decide how much they want to rent their car based on the daily rate they set. Renters usually have the advantage in this situation.
Why Is Turo Having Its Moment?
The San Francisco company has been around for several years but right now, Turo is having its moment. Car rental companies throughout the United States (and even in Canada and the UK) faced a unique problem with the pandemic. They couldn’t buy as many new cars (due to both demand and a chip shortage) but with domestic travel at elevated levels (because of border closures) this has put a pinch on available assets which has created sky-high rental car rates for renters.
As travelers begin to look for other options to avoid unbelievably high rates, Turo is a great option. The supply of cars is expanding and it’s increasing its unique selection of vehicles. For reasons of cost, availability, and certainty, Turo is increasingly becoming a viable option for renters and car owners alike.
In terms of service, Turo offers a varied reliability factor because each host operates differently. That said, when comparing rates for an upcoming trip, I was able to find the perfect car for my needs for less than half my favorite rental car company. I’ll pay a little more than the market rate for access 24 hours a day, loyalty points, and comfortability.
However, as a partner in a travel agency, I’ve even advised my own clients to book with Turo for specific vehicles given current rates and included liability insurance.
What do you think? Have you rented with Turo? Are you a vehicle owner that’s considered Turo?
After getting bent over in Maui to the tune of $250 a day for a Jeep, and waiting hours at the Avis preferred desk in PHX and LAS, I’ve been trailing Turo in Honolulu and Anchorage. Great experiences both times, Expensive for sure, but the cars are nice at least,
People will beat the crap out of your car, MX expenses can skyrocket if you have a German car. All of the sudden your $8000 in profit is gone…
I struggle why someone would rent its own car to a stranger. Never, ever!!! They will drive like they stole it.
Turo is not having its moment. Alaska has no rentals available. And neither does Turo. Which proves how utterly useless it is.
Sounds to me like James is having a moment.
Thanks for the tip. I just found a car in Portland this summer for half the price of the least expensive car rental I can find!
Doesn’t Turo still have a daily price limit policy of some sort, thus capping what car owners can charge?
As a renter – sure, Turo can provide helpful options, especially if you have specific needs or are traveling to an area when rental car supply is problematic.
As a car owner, though, I’d be very, very, very wary. The promised profit sounds great in theory. But it takes a grand total of one renter that decides to take your car for a joyride and flog it to make that profit go “poof”. Even if you manage to avoid the Italian tune-up, depending on how much extra mileage gets put on, your routine maintenance costs will increase, something I doubt Turo takes into account in their projections.
You also hold your own insurance too, so heaven forbid something did happen, between the included coverage and your own, I would think “poof” would be out of the picture.
I have been experimenting renting my truck out on Turo for the past month and a half in Houston. I have found most renters take good care of the vehicle because they want good reviews to allow them to continue to use Turo. There are some folks that don’t know how to take care of a vehicle. As long as you don’t think of your car as your child, Turo is a good way to make some money with an extra vehicle.
I rent out several cars on turo. A renter did cause $16,000 worth of damage to my car. Turo covered it minus the $750 deductible that I had chosen (they offer plans with 0 deductible). I kept the $15,000 and sold the crashed car for $8,000. In the end I came out ahead.
Someone did put cigarette burns in the seat of one of my cars. Turo had money in my checking account in about 16 hours b to cover it.
Worrying about people beating up your car is not as bad as you may think. That said I own these cars specifically for turo so I may care slightly less about their condition, but only slightly because they need to be in good shape for the next renter.
I left a scratch on some guys car and he made such a huge deal out of it TURO charged me $2500 like I could have bought a used car instead of renting at that point
A drunk Turo user who was just released from prison crashed into a house in West Hollywood and Turo told the homeowner they had to remove the car from their own property.
All these “apps” are terrible for regular people’s quality of life.
Turo allows their hosts to cancel at anytime with little to no retaliation to the host. As a renter this could mean that as you’re checking into your flight, you may not have a car when you arrive at your destination. Turo may try to help find you a replacement, but just as we’ve seen with rental companies, there are a lot of times when there just are none available. Therefore if a host sees high demand for their area, they can just cancel an already booked trip to cash in on the extra they can get by renting it to someone last minute. Nice concept, but definitely flawed.
Well the comparison of Turo to Airbnb is accurate but not a positive. I’ve had my first, and last, experience with Turo. Toro Maui was a loser experience. Turo company does not hold its “hosts” to any standards and does not protect customers…kinda like Airbnb. Avoid.