Did someone say free car payments for a BMW? Spoiler Alert: it has nothing to do with a little blue sign or any other pyramid scheme. So if that’s what you thought, well you shouldn’t be here. For the past year, I have toyed with the idea of getting rid of my car. When I first had the idea, I was working remotely and taking most meetings virtually. I had my schedule set up in such a way that I rarely needed to use my car. If I did need a car, I could easily see how I could work around my wife’s schedule and use hers if needed. I was still a bit hesitant because one: the idea of not having access to my own car was still hard for me to wrap my mind around and two: I kinda love my 4 Series BMW. However, my financial advisor inner voice kept whispering “If you can cut the expense, you need to cut it” (ques Young Dolph track).
This idea of getting rid of my car was really put to the test when we sold our house out in the suburbs and moved to the heart of the city in Charlotte, North Carolina. I am now walking distance from just about everything, including my office, so if I was really going to do this, there was never a better time than now. But, I haven’t been without my own car in 13 years! So I thought maybe I should test out this no car life before going all in. So I did just that. I kept my car parked and started walking almost everywhere.
Then one day, while scrolling on instagram, I stumbled upon this site called Turo. (Well, the site probably found me, you know how these companies listen to everything we say and “magically” show up on our feed, but anyway that’s another story for another day.) Basically, think Airbnb, but for your car. I figured since my car was going to be sitting for awhile as I gave this car-less life a test drive (pun intended).
How does it work?
Pretty simple actually. You can either use the app to rent a car or list a car that you want to rent. In my case, since my car was just going to be sitting in a garage I decided to list it. First, you describe your car, upload some clean photos, and you’re ready to go. You’ll want to make sure to keep your calendar up to date so travelers know when your car is available. The app will automatically notify you when someone wants to book your car and the duration of the trip. You have the option to confirm or deny the request. You can also message the person directly if you have specific pick up instructions. There is also a place within the app that you can keep certain details that you want all drivers to know about for every trip.
What to do on the day of the pickup?
The day has come where you are about to let a total stranger take your car, now what? My first experience was super smooth and easy. The gentlemen met me at my home, he brought his car and left it at my place, (which gave me more confidence that he was actually going to bring mine back) he took off and that was it. The formal process is; they are supposed to show you their license, check the car for any prior damage, to which you with both agree and document as well as notating fuel levels so that the driver returns the car with the same amount. You should also notate the current mileage as a certain number of miles is included in each trip. If the driver goes over, you’re eligible for reimbursement.
So.. I just let a stranger take my car, what if they wreck it?!
Chill…Turo covers your car with $1 million in liability insurance and 24/7 roadside assistance throughout the trip.
Ok, you’ve had my car long enough, time to bring my baby home.
The day comes when it’s time for you to get your car back. Is it ok? Did they spill food on my leather seats? Did they drive it into the ground like you do when you rent cars? Doubtful. This is an app where you receive ratings as a renter or a lister. So unless they plan on never using the app again, I doubt they will do anything to “intentionally” harm your car. Besides, like I said earlier, its completely covered and their bank account or credit card information is connected to the app so if they are responsible for any damages, their card can be charged.
Ok, so how do I get paid?
That’s what everyone is wondering, right? So the way this works is the app allows you to have them auto-set a price for your car based certain information you entered about the year, make, model, features and how cars similar to yours are currently priced. Or you can enter your own list price, based on what you feel your car is worth, I did the latter. I noticed that the app seems to low ball you a little bit, they call it dynamically setting your car’s rental price based on market value, location, time of year, and other data, I call it, charging a low price so you can have my car out here in these streets (literally) like someone fresh out of a relationship single and ready to mingle. Based on the list price, and the number of days the driver books the trip, that’s what you’ll get, less the fee Turo charges for using the app, which ranges from 15-35% based on the protection package you choose.
So what were my results? I listed my car in July 2017 and by the end of the month, I had my first booking. After that, I had a pretty steady stream of bookings between then and the end of August. I wanted to test it out for a solid month. My total payout for having my car listed for 30 days was…drum roll please…$544! I covered the cost of my car payment and my car was actually only loaned out a total of about 5 days, not bad! This was comprised of 3 trips, different times throughout the month; but keep in mind one person could rent your car for an entire week or even a month, it just depends. Personally, I liked the different trips, that way my car is not gone for too many consecutive days.
Below are my results. As I mentioned, I first listed my car on July 28, 2017, and wanted to see how it would perform for one month. After that month, I unlisted my car as I was trying to decide if I was going to sell it or keep it listed. Then I got a little busy and had some traveling so left it unlisted for a couple months, then turned it back on the last two months of the year (Had to get those holiday coins).
Should you give it a try?
Overall, I like the app a lot. The process is smooth, straightforward and easy. I have had nothing but positive experiences with renters and my car always came back in perfect condition. Sometimes it slipped my mind that someone had booked and the day popped up on me so be sure to set a calendar reminder for when you have trips booked because it’s easy to overlook the notification.
Whether you should give it a try or not really boils down to if it’s conducive to your lifestyle. For me, I am legitimately walking distance from all of my normal everyday activities such as work, the gym, food, and even my barbershop. So at this point, I could continue renting out my car, with a good chance of having my car payment taken care off and possibly even making a profit. However, if your current lifestyle would still rely on you to drive fairly frequently, I’m not sure if it would make sense for you. Unless you had options to carpool, but if you had to Lyft or use some form of public transportation, at that point it may not be worth the hassle.
But if you’re like me and have the luxury of walking many places and you don’t use your car much, this may be right up your alley. Another option that could make sense is if you travel a bunch. You could list your car while you’re gone so you wouldn’t be without it when you’re home. The challenge with this option is, from experience, people usually book out a week or so in advance, so just make sure you have your cars availability published as soon as you know your travel schedule to increase the odds of someone booking your car.
You might be thinking, well if I am out of town, how would I be able to meet my drivers in order to give them the keys? Well, I may be breaking the rules (shhh!) but I have only met with 2 of the renters in person. For the rest of my trips, I left very specific instructions, left my key and we messaged each other to facilitate the pickup and drop off. I am not recommending that this is what you do, because if something goes left, you may not be covered if you didn’t do your due diligence of making sure the right person was picking up your car or walking the car for damages before finalizing the trip.
If you decide you want to give it a try, use my special promo code and you’ll get $25 and so will I. PS I may be selling my car this weekend…I have said this before, stay tuned my friends.