It’ s no secret that the cost of renting a car has gone sky high over the past several years. If you can even find a car to rent, it’s not uncommon for car rental prices to run near $100 / day or even higher. My typical routine is to make a (refundable) car reservation and then track it with Autoslash. Usually over the course of a few weeks, Autoslash will save quite a bit off the total car rental rate.
(SEE ALSO: Autoslash actually let me down!)
To combat high car rental prices, I’ve been occasionally turning to Turo as an alternative to renting a car.
What is Turo?
Turo is a peer-to-peer car rental service. You can kind of think of it as “Airbnb for cars”, to borrow a cliched analogy. With Turo, you are renting a car from a specific person. Unlike renting a car from a company, you can see exactly what kind of car you’re going to get when you make the reservation.
I have used Turo one time, when we went to Orlando a few years ago. It was super nice to be able to specifically book an 8-passenger minivan. When we’re renting a car from a company, we can’t rent just one car, we have to rent two cars, since we can’t guarantee what kind of minivan we might get.
You used to be able to get a discount with a Turo referral link, but Turo currently does not have referral codes or promo codes for first time users.
Reasons to rent a car vs. Turo
If you’re trying to compare renting a car vs. using Turo, here are a few reasons why you might consider renting a car from a rental company like Avis, Hertz, Enterprise, Budget, National, etc.
- Nobody to complain to when things go wrong – This is probably my #1 thing against Turo. If things go wrong, you don’t have anyone really to complain to. Turo itself generally doesn’t get involved unless there is obviously something wrong. When we returned our Turo in Orlando, the guy said there were some scratches on it that weren’t there before. I had taken pictures and video when we picked it up, but it was inconclusive. I’m still not certain to this day whether that was an actual thing where someone dinged the car in the parking lot when I wasn’t looking or if the guy was scamming me. This is the same thing I hate about Airbnb. In my case, luckily, my dad saved the day in ways that only dads can by using some sort of “dad magic” to buff the scratches out 🙂 and it all worked out.
- Mileage caps – while most car rentals have unlimited mileage, Turo rentals often have a mileage cap and charge additional costs if you use more than the allotted miles
- Credit card rental insurance generally doesn’t apply – this is since Turo is not a car rental company.
- Pickup / dropoff – This varies widely but you may have to pick up or dropoff your Turo at an inconvenient place, or pay more for more convenience
- You might not be renting from “a person” – just like Airbnb, as Turo has become more popular, there are more and more professionals and companies masquerading as Turo “hosts”. The guy we rented from in Orlando seemed to have about 20 cars that he was running through Turo.
Reasons to use Turo vs. renting a car
And on the flip side, here are reasons to use Turo instead of renting a car:
- Cost – Of course this is going to vary greatly, but my experience has been that Turo can often be cheaper than renting a car, especially when renting a car is very expensive
- You can see the exact car that you’re going to get before you arrive – This can be huge if the type of car that you get is crucial to your trip
- Exotic cars – If you want to rent a Tesla or a luxury car, you can often do that with Turo for a fairly reasonable price
- Location – you might find a Turo rental in places where there are no or limited options for traditional car rentals
(SEE ALSO: Why does renting a car feel like such a scam?)
Use Turo or rent a car – do both!
When it comes to the choice of whether to use Turo or rent a car, there’s really no reason not to do both, at least if you’re a few months out from your trip. Most car rentals are refundable as long as you don’t pay upfront. Similarly, the Turo cancellation policy is generally for a full refund up until shortly before your trip (but check the details on your particular rental). So there’s really no reason to both rent a car and reserve a Turo, and then use Autoslash to monitor your car rental booking and set yourself a reminder to periodically check back if the price on your Turo has dropped.
Then, when you get closer to your trip, you can choose the option that makes the most sense for you and cancel the other one.
What about you? What is your experience using Turo vs. renting a car? Leave your thoughts in the comments
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