In the age of the shared economy, Turo, a car rental company that connects renters with private car owners, was pretty much inevitable. First, ride-sharing services allowed you to get a ride to the airport from anyone with a smartphone. Then home rental companies let you land in another city and crash at any apartment with rooms to spare. Now, thanks to Turo, you can step out of that apartment in 2,500 cities in the U.S. and Canada (plus London, for those taking a trip across the pond) and borrow someone’s car — for a modest fee, of course. But is Turo worth it? Is Turo safe?
In This Article:
Is Turo a Worth It?
Is Turo Safe?
What Are the Best Alternatives to Turo?
Is Turo Worth It?
Yes, with a few caveats. By applying the shared economy model to car rental, Turo drives down the price of transportation while giving you more control over what kind of car you rent and what features you get. However, some Turo rentals have daily mileage limits (with surcharges per mile that vary between renters). So how substantial are the savings?
…Vs. Traditional Renters
Let’s say you’re visiting Chicago for a week and need a sedan. If you rent through Hertz, seven days with a Volkswagen Jetta (“or similar”) will set you back approximately $372.27, or around $53 per day. And since it’s a Jetta or similar, there’s no guarantee the specific kind of car you wanted will be there when you arrive. Meanwhile, with Turo, you can find a Volkswagen Jetta with airport pickup and drop-off for $268.35, or roughly $38 per day.
Even if that specific Turo car has a mileage limit, that’s still a 33% difference for the same make and model of car. Plus, while most traditional rental services offer few convenient locations once you leave the airport, you can pick up your Turo rental anywhere the owner will agree to meet. Advantage in pricing and convenience: Turo.
…Vs. Membership-Based Car Sharing
ZipCar, first established in 2000 and now owned by Avis, serves hundreds of cities and colleges throughout the United States and across the world. Unlike Turo’s one-and-done rental system, ZipCar uses a set of paid memberships based on how often you need to drive. Rental rates vary by city (Austin’s cheapest plan is $9.75 an hour and Denver’s is $10), but every user pays a nonrefundable $25 application fee and all but the Occasional Driver plan start at $7 per month. All rates include the cost of insurance, maintenance, parking, and gas.
Enterprise Car Share, owned by (you guessed it) Enterprise Rent-a-Car, has a smaller footprint than Turo or Zipcar (26 cities and over 150 college campuses in the US) but offers more service in the UK and cheaper monthly plans compared to Zipcar. Two out of its three plans — “Keep it Local” and “Keep it Simple” require an annual membership fee with no monthly commitment, while the premium “Road Warrior” plan charges $30 per month. Fuel and mileage are included.
Turo has no application fees or monthly charges, but its base prices don’t include gas or insurance coverage. Zipcar and Enterprise’s base prices do. They also let you rent by the hour instead of the day. Whether or not that’s an advantage depends on your needs. If you need to drive regularly but don’t want to own a car, something monthly might work better. If you just want some wheels for a day or two without any long-term commitments, Turo’s still the best option.
Is Turo Safe?
Yes! For starters, if you feel nervous about renting cars from strangers, rest easy: Turo verifies the identities of, and reserves the right to perform background checks on, anyone who wants to list a car. They also have a strict no-tolerance policy toward any abusive behavior (by owners OR renters). Beyond screening, Turo uses a thorough rating system. Cars receive star ratings that quickly adjust based on new reviews, and renters are encouraged to leave detailed feedback about the owners themselves.
When it comes to car safety, any vehicle listed on Turo (with some exceptions for “specialty” models) must meet certain requirements. Modern cars must be from 2005 or later, have fewer than 130,000 miles / 200,000 kilometers, and have a clean title (no “salvaged” cars allowed). “Specialty” cars, on the other hand — like that classic Shelby GT Cobra you’ve always wanted to drive for a day, for example — must be from before 1990, be in excellent physical and mechanical condition, have fully functional safety features, and meet any additional standards Turo chooses to impose.
So, no matter what model car you rent, be it a Model T or a Model S, it will be clean and in good working condition. These rigorous standards and the customer rating system keep safe cars on the road and sketchy owners off the site.
Secondly, Turo offers insurance coverage via Liberty Mutual. Turo customers may choose from two packages — Basic and Premium — or decline coverage altogether. Both packages provide liability coverage, physical damage coverage, and 24/7 roadside assistance. Basic offers the minimum liability coverage in any given state and a $3,000 deductible for property damage while Premium offers $1,000,000 in liability coverage and a $500 deductible.
Declining coverage means relying on your own car insurance or supplemental insurance offered by your credit card, and some Turo owners offer their own renter’s insurance. Both choices have their issues and should be considered carefully.
What Are the Best Alternatives to Turo?
- What: Car-sharing app with no minimum rental times.
- Where: Austin, Columbus, Denver, New York City, Portland, Seattle, and Washington D.C., along with cities in Austria, Canada, China, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands.
- How Much: $5 joining fee, $0.41 – $0.49 per minute, $15 – $19 per hour, or $59 – $79 per day.
- Pros: Free parking anywhere; drop off car within approved areas instead of a specific spot.
- Cons: Only three available car models (smart fortwo, Mercedes-Benz GLA, Mercedes-Benz CLA); unclear insurance options.
- Visit Car2Go
- What: A “peer to peer” car share company with hourly and daily rentals.
- Where: Berkeley, Boston, Chicago, New Jersey, Oakland, Portland, San Francisco, and Washington D.C.
- How Much: No entry fees. Rentals start at $5, but vary wildly by owner.
- Pros: CarKit allows users to pick up their cars without meeting up with owners for keys; insurance included; 24/7 roadside assistance.
- Cons: Gas not included; small footprint; must register using Facebook.
- Visit Getaround
- What: Peer-to-peer car sharing with hourly, daily, and monthly rentals.
- Where: Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Portland, San Diego, and San Francisco.
- How Much: No joining fees. Rental rates depend on owner.
- Pros: Decent variety of cars available.
- Cons: Sparse website with poor user interface; smaller footprint than other car sharing options.
- Visit JustShareIt
Is Turo worth it? Is Turo safe? Every car rental method has its issues and its quirks, but for anyone who just needs a comfortable car for the day or the week or the month, Turo is convenient, affordable, and safe. Its wide footprint and variety of rental options, along with its comprehensive insurance plans and robust interface, make it one of the most compelling options out there for any car renter. If you do decide to go with Turo as a renter, here’s $25 off your first rental.