Turo: 5 Things To Know About the Cheap Car Rental Service

If you’re looking for an affordable way to rent a car, Turo may be the answer. Turo is a bit like Airbnb on wheels: It provides a secure platform for people to rent out their cars at affordable rates.

Team Clark has explored the process of renting a car with Turo and compared the prices to well-known car rental services to see how it holds up.

In this article, I’ll look at how Turo works and what the process is like for finding and renting a car. I’ll also look at how insurance works and see how Turo’s prices compare to those of popular car rental companies such as Enterprise and Alamo.

5 Things To Know About Turo

If you're looking to rent a car, Turo may offer some of the best prices. It's also a great way to test drive a particular vehicle make or model that you're thinking about buying. To do this, you can browse Turo's website or app by destination or vehicle make. Then, you can search for cars in a particular geographic area. According to the company's website, Turo operates in more than 5,500 cities and offers cars from $25/day.

If you’re thinking about renting a car through Turo, here are five things to know first:

Below, you’ll find more detailed information about Turo including how to search for a car and what to expect once you find one to rent.

What Is Turo?

According to the company's website, Turo is the world's largest peer-to-peer car sharing marketplace. It works similar to an Airbnb for cars. Vehicle owners can become Turo hosts and make their vehicles available for rent. Whether you're traveling out of town, your current car is out of service or you're looking for an extended test drive of a specific vehicle, Turo may be a cost-effective option.

Turo was founded in 2010 and now has relatively positive ratings and reviews across the web. On Trustpilot, Turo maintains an "Excellent" rating with 4.4/5 stars from 11.9K reviews at the time of writing. The app has a 4.8/5 star rating from 156.1K reviews on the App Store and 4.9/5 stars from 54.2K reviews on Google Play.

Turo's Better Business Bureau profile isn't quite as positive: The company has an "F" rating and 2.76/5 stars from 347 customer reviews. Many of the complaints mention the renter's damage to vehicles, cancellation issues and charges for late returns. Fortunately, Turo is active on BBB and has closed 241 complaints in the last 12 months at the time of writing. If you do try Turo and have an issue, submitting a complaint on BBB could be a good way to get it resolved.

How Does Turo Work?

Turo works by connecting local vehicle owners with people who are looking to rent a car in their area. The company earns money by taking 15-40% of the total price of the rental depending on what coverage plan the vehicle owner purchases when they become a host.

As a renter, you can begin by visiting the company's website or downloading the app for iPhone or Android. From there, you can search by destination or vehicle make.

Finding a Car

When I checked out Turo myself, I visited the website to begin.

From Turo’s homepage, you can enter a city, airport, address or hotel and the days/times that you’ll need a vehicle in the search bar. You can also scroll down to browse by popular makes and destinations. I entered Denver as a destination and checked out what would be available for a week in July.

There were 55 results for my selected destination and dates. Prices began at $68 daily for a 2013 Smart Fortwo and ranged up to $1,300 daily for a 2010 Ferrari California. 

You can sort the results by relevance or price. You can also filter the results to show cars within a certain price range, cars that are available for instant booking, delivery cost, distance included and more. If you’re looking for a specific vehicle type, certain features or a highly-rated host, you can find these options under “More filters.”

Once you find a car you’re interested in, you can click on it to see additional details.

Across the top of the page, you’ll see photos of the vehicle that have been uploaded by the owner. Below that, you’ll see additional information including a total price estimate, the car specs and features, the host’s rating and how many trips they’ve completed.

There are a couple of things to look for on this page before you decide to book a car. First, check the included distance. For the vehicle pictured above, it was 1600 miles and $0.40/mi for additional miles driven. Next, check the parking details and the guidelines. This is where the host will describe where to find the car and any special requests. For the vehicle I looked into, the guidelines included no pets, no smoking and returning the car with a full tank of gas.

Finally, be sure to read any available ratings and reviews from previous customers.

Renting a Car

If you decide that you’d like to rent the car, verify the dates and click “Continue.” From there, you’ll have to create an account with Turo to proceed. You’ll need to enter your name, email address and create a password to do this.

If you're new to Turo, there are a few tasks you'll have to complete in order to get approved to drive. First, you'll have to verify your email address. Then, you'll have to upload a profile photo, enter and verify your mobile number, enter your driver's license information and a payment method. According to the website, most applications get approved immediately, and you'll only have to complete this process one time.

Once you've booked a car, you'll have until 24 hours before your trip to cancel it for free. If you keep your reservation, you'll be able to have the car delivered to you on the day you need it or pick it up yourself from your host at a nearby public location. Simply check in with the app, get the keys and hit the road.

At the end of your trip, you’ll either be able to drop your car off where you picked it up or have your host pick it up directly from you.

How Much Does Turo Cost?

According to Turo's website, trip costs vary depending on the vehicle you select, the protection plan you purchase, whether you add Extras and more. You will see an itemized list of all charges before you checkout. Commercial Hosts may offer additional rental liability insurance that you'll have to pay in addition to Turo's fees, but this will be clear on a vehicle's listing.

When I checked out vehicles available for a week during the summer in Denver, prices ranged from $68-$1,300 daily. In addition to the estimated trip price you see on the results page, some additional fees may apply. There's a trip fee, which is a percentage of the trip price, the cost of a protection plan and a young driver fee for renters under the age of 26.

If you add any extras, such as prepaid refueling, unlimited mileage, bicycles, tents or other conveniences/physical items a host may offer, there will be an additional fee for these. You may also have to pay a security deposit based on your age, auto-insurance score, trip details or other factors. Taxes may also apply. To learn more about trip costs, check out Turo's website.

I also wanted to see how Turo's base prices compared to other popular car rental companies. I looked up the best prices I could find for midsize and compact cars at popular cities for a week in July. Here's what I found:

 TuroEnterpriseAlamoBudget Car Rental
Denver (Midsize Car)$556$700$891$776
Atlanta (Midsize Car)$339$642$634$777
San Francisco (Compact Car)$624$531$605$846

As you can see, Turo’s prices are consistently low across the board. I found a Toyota Corolla on Turo in Denver for $144 cheaper for the week than the next-best price at Enterprise. I found a similar car on Turo in Atlanta for only $339, which is almost half the cost of the next-best deal from Alamo.

Ironically, though Turo’s headquarters are in San Francisco, it was the only city where I found a better deal from a chain. Enterprise offered a compact car for nearly $100 less for the week than Turo.

Ultimately, while Turo offers consistently low prices, it's still important to comparison shop. Also, be prepared for additional charges including a trip fee, protection plan, young driver fee, taxes and potentially more. Despite these fees, though, Turo is definitely worth checking out if you're looking for a good price on a car rental.

Turo’s Insurance

Turo offers third-party liability insurance that's provided by Liberty Mutual and secured through Turo Insurance Agency, LLC. Hosts are responsible for the insurance on rented cars. They can choose a coverage plan that works for them, but each one includes up to $750,000 in liability, physical damage reimbursement and 24/7 roadside assistance for all trips.

There are five different insurance plans to choose from, but unless you're thinking about becoming a Turo host you won't need to worry about the insurance as much. It mostly covers the vehicle owner in case of emergency.

According to Turo's website, you don't need personal insurance coverage to book a car. Plus, as long as they're approved to drive on Turo, you can add additional drivers.

You can purchase an optional guest protection plan for additional coverage. There are three plans to choose from that cost anywhere between 15% and 100% of the trip price. You can also choose to decline protection. If you do this, you'll receive the minimum amount of third-party liability insurance coverage required by the state where the car is registered, and you'll be responsible for all damage costs.

To learn more about guest protection plans, visit Turo's website.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, Turo is a safe and legitimate way to rent a car from a local host. Since 2010, Turo has grown into a popular service with more than 200K total app ratings and an "Excellent" ranking on Trustpilot from consumers. To get started, you can download the app for iPhone or Android or visit the company's website.

The peer-to-peer car sharing marketplace generally offers more affordable vehicle options than well-known car rental companies. Still, it's important to shop around for the best deal.

When you check out Turo for yourself, I recommend sorting your search results by price (low to high) to push more expensive luxury cars toward the bottom of the page. If you plan on having the car delivered to you, you can also filter your search results by "free delivery." Additionally, know about how far you plan to drive the vehicle. If you're taking it on a long road trip, make sure it includes all the distance you'll need. If you're staying closer to the city, you might be able to find a deal on a car with a shorter distance included.

If you do choose to rent a car through Turo, be sure to read previous customers' reviews and look at the host's rating before booking. Finally, while the host will have insurance for the vehicle, you will also have the option to purchase a guest protection plan for additional coverage.

Have you ever used Turo to rent a car? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!

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