It’s still hard.
So when I saw an opportunity to make renting a car a little easier, I had to take it.
Turo, a peer-to-peer car rental company founded in 2009, lets you rent a car without the usual rental car fatigue: there are no long airport lines to endure; You don’t have to squeeze your whole family into a compact economy car because that’s all that’s left. You don’t have to worry about showing up at the counter to find out your car has already been taken by someone else. It’s just one car – your choice, right down to the make, model and color – waiting for you when you land.
But what exactly is Turo? How does it work? And is it actually better than a traditional car hire company, especially when traveling with children? Read on to learn more:
What is Tur?
Basically, Turo works like Airbnb, only for cars. Car owners list their personal cars (although many Turo hosts are seasoned professionals who have entire fleets of cars on the site), and customers browse the listings to find exactly what they want. The company operates in all 50 US states and in over 10,000 cities in the US, UK, Canada, France and Australia – with rentals in most major airports as well as small residential areas across the country.
Unlike traditional rental companies, Turo’s business model allows customers to choose the car of their choice, right down to the make, model, and year (with options like all-wheel drive, blind-spot monitoring, GPS, child seats, and backup cameras). – and read user reviews to ensure quality before renting.
“In recent years, bookings with traditional car rental companies have been incredibly difficult due to supply shortages and cancellations,” said Albert Mangahas, Turo’s chief data officer. “It has made people realize that they want power of choice, convenience and excellent service, especially when traveling with their family.”
Always wanted to drive a Tesla? Curious how it feels to be a mini van mom? Turo is a good way to find out. With more than 1,400 car brands and models represented on the site, you can rent the car you’ve always dreamed of (or at least the one you think is suitable for a one-way drive).
“Turo offers guests the opportunity to make their cars a memorable part of their vacation, whether it’s an SUV, minivan, exotic car, or electric vehicle,” Mangahas said.
As far as the quality of the cars goes, it’s not like anyone can put their car on its side and wait for the dollars to roll in. Turo requires all rental vehicles to be less than 12 years old (except “special” cars) and must meet Turo’s safety requirements, including providing a record of annual safety inspections (cars registered in these states are not required, according to Turo submit vehicle inspection).
Turo How does Turo work?
Find your car: Enter your destination and the dates you need a car, then select your preferred car type and features (like electric, family-friendly, pet-friendly, etc.) to see a list of available cars. Hosts with the most experience and reviews are listed as “All Star Hosts,” which can give you a good idea of the condition of your chosen car and ease of communication with your host.
Adding extras: Need a booster seat or booster seat? winter tires? A ski rack? No problem. Look for cars that offer these extras and your car will be fully loaded when you pick it up.
Fill in your information: Just as you want to trust your rental car, the owner of your rental car wants to trust you! So before you can rent a car, you must provide Turo with your driver’s license information, photo, credit card information, and home address to verify your identity before you can rent on the site.
Book your trip: All reservations can be canceled up to 24 hours before your trip.
PexelsPick up the car
This is where Turo really sets itself apart from traditional rental car companies. Instead of going to an office or building, Turo hosts can deliver the car to the airport, or you can pick it up at another pre-arranged location. I chose to have the host take our car to the airport terminal parking lot and when we landed in Orlando, Florida we just walked out of the airport and got our three row car like we were Florida locals! (Much easier than waiting 45 minutes at a rental car counter just to get a sedan, which would force my three big kids to sit next to each other in the back seat.)
How: Most Turo hosts either park the car with the doors unlocked and the key in the glove box, or with a locker on the bottom of the car so the renter can just get in and drive. Some cars also use a remote lock/unlock system, allowing renters to unlock the car from their phone.
Note: some hosts prefer face-to-face exchanges – for example, they will pick you up at the airport and drive you to your hotel before giving you the keys. This would be stated on the host’s list.
Check-in: When you get to your car, you must first check its condition – and prove that you are actually the one picking it up (this prevents people from renting cars for others). For example: I had to take a picture of myself in front of the car with my driver’s license in hand and upload it to the Turo app.
The check-in process will also ask you to upload photos of the interior and exterior of the car (including the odometer and fuel gauge, just to show any pre-existing dents or scratches as well as the gas level in the car when you picked it up ).
Note: Since the check-in process is based on the Turo app, keep your phone charged! If your toddler has been tapping on your phone for the entire flight and you’re out of battery, you won’t be able to log into the app to find out where your car is or how to get in.
return of the car
Similar to the check-in process, returning your car requires you to take it to the designated location (for me it was the airport economy car park), upload pictures of the inside and outside of the car (to show you… left safely and sound) and leave the keys (I was told to leave the keys in the glove box and leave the car unlocked). Then… Just walk away!
If additional costs are incurred – for example if you did not fill up the tank before returning it – you will receive an invoice for payment. Also, if you left the car unreasonably messy (for example, if your toddler threw up all the seats and you left the caked remains behind, or you drove through a mudslide and your car now looks dipped in chocolate), you’ll be fined $150 charged cleaning fee.
To put things in perspective, I had no problems returning my 2020 Kia Sorrento, even with my kids endlessly snacking in the back seat.
Melissa HeckscherIs Turo cheaper than traditional rental cars?
At first glance, Turo is far cheaper than traditional rental cars — with prices starting at around $29 per day. Costs skyrocket if you want a specific make, model, or year, and depends on location, with the average price for a mid-size, mid-value car being around $40-$70 per day.
When it comes to renting family-friendly cars, Turo also beats traditional rental car prices. For example, a Turo-listed 2020 Chrysler Pacifica in Los Angeles starts at $58 per day, while the same car is $110 per day at Enterprise LAX.
However, Turo has some additional costs that might narrow that gap a bit. Airport fees (if you want the car delivered to the airport), optional features (like car seats or bike racks), and a Turo “Trip Fee” (which ranges from 2.5% to 100% of the total trip price, with higher value cars with a higher driving fee) can’t set your Turo rental price that far apart from other car rental companies’ rates.
NOTE: We recommend purchasing Turo insurance, which starts at $14 per day. This is because most auto insurance companies (or credit card policies if your card offers rental car insurance) do not recognize Turo as an official rental car agent; As a result, they generally don’t cover you if you get into an accident while driving a Turo car.
Melissa HeckscherThe snack bar:
I spent $331 on a four-day rental in Orlando—much cheaper than renting a three-row from Budget or Avis. I didn’t have to deal with anyone (except my kids) when I got off the plane. We just left the airport, got in the car and drove to our hotel. We were out of the airport within 45 minutes of landing!
The only real flaw in this process was that I didn’t have great wifi in the airport car park so I had trouble uploading pictures to the app upon check in and on return. As for the car, I wasn’t blown away – highway driving was noisy, the seats weren’t power, and I couldn’t get Apple Carplay to work. But I hadn’t specified a luxury car or specific features, so I wasn’t overly concerned by those things.
The car had three rows, it fit all of us comfortably, and it drove us safely to our destination (for less money). Success.
Benefits of Turo:
Cheaper (usually) than traditional car hire companies No need to wait in line with your kids! Huge range of cars lets you choose a specific model, make and year Many family-friendly cars including SUVs and minivans at competitive prices You can choose specific family-friendly features like car seats, bike racks, Apple CarPlay, etc. a great way to enter Try out a luxury or special car You can pick up your car at any time, even if your flight lands late at night (however, many rental car companies close at a certain time)
Cons of Turo:
Fees (insurance, travel fee, airport taxes, etc.) can add up, making prices comparable to traditional car rental agencies. The whole process depends on your phone/computer and WiFi signal (if you don’t have a working device, you don’t know where your car is and how to get it – or can tell the host where you parked it when you handed it in.) You must rely on user reviews to determine the reliability of your selected car will vary widely from one trip to another depending on the owner’s (and previous reviewer’s) cleanliness or quality standards: If you book less than 24 hours before If you cancel your trip, you will have to pay part of the trip fee (while some car rental companies will not charge you at all until you show up at the counter)