Maybe you’ve flown across the country and want a car for tooling around town. Perhaps you’re planning a road trip and need a vehicle that can hold your passengers and gear. Whatever the reason, you’ve found yourself at the counter of a car rental company, answering the inevitable question: do you want economy, standard or full size? If you have your heart set on a specific make, model or color, you’re likely out of luck—unless you choose to rent from Turo.
The San Francisco-headquartered online marketplace is changing the car rental game in North America and abroad. A pioneer of the sharing economy, Turo enables travelers to choose from a unique selection of nearby cars in a wide variety of makes and models that continues to expand—and at lower daily rates than that of traditional rental companies.
RewardExpert spoke with Steve Webb, Head of Communications and Community, to find out more about the unique rental platform’s history, how it works, and why he believes it’s the best option for today’s traveler.
Turo’s founding and evolution
It all began with a blizzard in Boston. Shelby Clark, the company’s founder, was a student at Harvard Business School. As legend has it, he was walking through town on a cold, snowy night, noting the astonishing number of cars parked along the roadway. That’s when inspiration struck. “What if I could rent one of these cars from their owners?” he thought. And with that, the seed that eventually blossomed into Turo was planted.
“I don’t know how heavy the snow was or how dark the night was,” Webb says with a chuckle, “but Shelby’s inspiration was resources just sitting idly. That’s very much still our mission today: to put the world’s one billion cars to better use.”
Founded in 2009 as RelayRides, Turo now has 155 employees and around 110,000 vehicle listings. Cars are available for rent through the online community in more than 4,500 cities in the U.S. and Canada. The site launched its service in the U.K. in December, and Webb expects they’ll have users in well over 5,000 cities within a few months.
Renting through Turo is simple
With more than 850 makes and models of vehicles available, you’re likely to find exactly what you want on Turo. “We have everything from A8s to Z3s,” Webb says. “We’re the largest network of Tesla, BMW, and Jaguar rentals. Name just about any other specific make and model and we have hundreds of thousands of them.”
Whether you opt to use the website or download the free mobile app (available on Google Play or at the AppStore), getting started is easy. Once you create an account and provide your driver’s license information, the last four digits of your Social Security number (if in the U.S.), and your intended payment method, the Turo team will verify your identity and eligibility. Turo renters must be at least 21 years old, have a valid driver’s license, possess a mobile phone in their own name, and meet auto insurance score criteria. In most cases, approval takes no more than a few minutes.
You can then search the Turo community for vehicles available in your location on specific dates. Narrow your search by rental price or vehicle type, make or year. You can further drill down to those offering instant booking or curbside delivery as well as specify any desired features or colors.
Select your dream rental and Turo will connect you with its owner so you can iron out all the details—such as where you’ll meet for picking up and dropping off the vehicle and your daily rental rate. Book your trip and Turo will take care of the billing, charging the credit card you have on file. On average, renting through Turo costs 35 percent less than through a traditional rental car company according to Webb.
“Our average rental is five days,” Webb says, “though the minimum is one day. We actually get a lot of car enthusiasts on our site because we have such a wide range of car options. They can rent out an Aston Martin one day and a classic Porsche the next, so that’s a pretty big market for us in addition to travelers.”
The service has been a definite hit. “Our Net Promoter Score is a tool we use to measure our customer satisfaction,” Webb explains. “It’s a one to 10 scale where we ask how likely people are to suggest us to a friend. Our NPS is currently three times that of traditional rent-a-car companies because our entire process is seamless. We have an amazing app and website built to manage all the interaction, including payment, and people have really responded to it.”
Need cash for your next vacation? Consider renting your own vehicle out on Turo
“Before Turo came along, the average car was a depreciating asset, sitting idle in your driveway over 92 percent of the time,” Webb says. “We’ve turned that cost center into an earnings engine, allowing owners to generate revenue and net profits.”
According to Webb, the average active host on Turo makes $750 a month. Those who rent out three or more cars earn an average of $3,000 a month. “We have Tesla X owners, BMW and Porsche owners who are getting a car that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford by renting it out on Turo for as few as seven days a month and completely offsetting their car payment,” he adds.
All vehicles listed on Turo must be legally registered, model year 2005 or newer, have fewer than 130,000 miles, a clean title, and a fair market value of $85,000 or less (with the exception of the Tesla S and Tesla X). Specialty and classic cars must be older than model year 1990, be in excellent mechanical and physical condition, and have all seat belts in safe, working condition.
Owners (and renters) are covered under Turo’s proprietary insurance policies for the duration of each rental period. You can find additional details here.