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. But is Turo worth it? Yes, with a few caveats. Some Turo rentals have daily mileage limits (with surcharges per mile that vary between renters), for example. Below, we analyze the cost savings and safety factors to consider when renting from Turo so you can decide whether it is a good fit for your needs.
Turo vs. Traditional Rentals
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 the specific Turo car you are interested in 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, giving Turo the 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 CarShare, owned by 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. Zipcar and Enterprise CarShare 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, a monthly membership might suit your needs better. If you just want some wheels for a day or two without any long-term commitments, Turo is still a reasonable option.
Is Turo safe to use? Yes! If you feel nervous about renting cars from strangers, note that Turo verifies the identities of and reserves the right to perform background checks on anyone who wants to list a car. It has strict requirements for its vehicles (detailed below). It also has 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 — 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.
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.
In addition to the standards it holds for owners and their cars, 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.
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, 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 a viable rental option when compared to traditional car rentals and membership-based services like Zipcar.