The sharing economy that brought us Airbnb and Uber has delivered an option for car rentals. A peer-to-peer marketplace called Turo can be a good opportunity, under certain circumstatnces, to land a low-cost car rental. Here's what you need to know.
When Turo Makes the Most Sense for Car Renters
There are times when it's next to impossible to snag a good deal on a rental car. Maybe your favorite rental car company is sold out. Maybe every rental car company is sold out vehicles due to a major weather event or other random phenomenon. When that happens, you might have to cast a wider net. If you trust the peer-to-peer model, you might be able to find a vehicle through Turo even when the traditional rental car companies have no availability.
Turo uses the peer-to-peer model of car sharing. A driver rents a car owned by another individual rather than one owned by a rental company. Essentially, Turo is the vehicular equivalent of Airbnb with the same strengths and weaknesses. There's far less uniformity among the car owners and their vehicles, so experiences can vary wildly.
The Lowdown on Renting a Car on Turo
Turo is an online marketplace and the renting process takes a bit longer than with traditional rental car companies. You are required to fill out a rental application that can be approved within minutes. The company requires a driver's license number, last four digits of your Social Security Number, and a credit card as part of its vetting process.
The number of available vehicles depends on where you live. There tends to be more choice in more populated areas. If you like driving luxury cars, Turo can be a great resource. We spotted a sizable number of listings for expensive, specialty classifications that might be hard to book at traditional rental car companies. Even Tesla models and Corvettes are available.
There are differences in car rental insurance between the major rental car companies and Turo. Most notably, credit card companies virtually never extend coverage to Turo rentals. If you don't own a car or have personal auto insurance, you should not decline coverage with Turo.
You'll need to plan a bit farther ahead than you might be used to. Since Turo is essentially a matching site, there are few "book instantly" options. Often, fewer than 10 percent of listed cars can be "booked instantly." Some users will have the option to book instantly until after their first rental.