Turo is shaking up the car rental world. Think of it like the Airbnb of renting a vehicle.
Car owners across the world rent out their vehicles on the Turo, giving you a chance to save both time and money. Skip the long lines and high fees at the car rental kiosks at the airport, filter for car preferences, and even get picked up and dropped off at the airport to save.
Turo rentals are available across the U.S. and Canada, along with a growing number in major European cities.
Thrifty Tip #1: Want to use Turo on your trip abroad? Learn how to easily apply for an International Drivers Permit.
How Turo Works
Here’s the gist of how Turo works:
- Sign up: The process is simple, but make sure to do it ahead of time so Turo can verify your identity and list you as an approved driver. Have you driver’s license ready.
- Search your destination and dates: Browse vehicles that fit your price range
- Pick your vehicle and review the details:
- Check how much gas and the total distance is included in the price.
- Look at the host’s reviews.
- Be sure to review Turo’s insurance policy. Your personal car insurance plan may extend to your Turo rental– check with your insurance company to be sure. Otherwise, make sure to look into one of Turo’s plans to be sure you’re covered in case of an accident.
- Book the car: Just like Airbnb, some rentals will instantly be approved while others can take eight hours or longer for owner approval.
- Pick up the car: Most owners offer delivery, though some will tack on a fee. Choose where you want the car to be dropped off – the airport, a hotel, or pick it up yourself.
- Explore the city in the car.
- Meet the owner to drop off the car.
I tried it all out for the first time on a recent trip to Denver. Here’s how it went.
I knew I wanted to rent a car in Colorado so we could easily get out to our glamping site and Red Rocks, so we decided to try out Turo. I had already made my profile, so I started by searching for a car.
I chose “Denver International Airport” as my delivery location so we could pick up and drop off the car right at the airport. Some Turo hosts charge quite a bit for delivery (to the airport or elsewhere) and some charge nothing, so I filtered for delivery charges of $25 or less. Be sure to filter out exorbitant delivery charges to save more on Turo.
Then, I filtered price to under $50 a day to see the best options in my budget.
Many different options popped up, but a Mini Cooper caught my eye. Here’s what the individual Turo car details look like:
Here, you’ll see the basic details and features of the car. For our trip, an automatic transmission comfortable for two people with great gas mileage worked perfectly. Further down, you can read more details and reviews of previous renters.
Plus, delivery and pick-up from the airport was just $25 total! Considering how far the Denver airport is from downtown Denver, this is a steal.
Turo offers owners their own protection plans, but there is an option for the renter to purchase their own additional protection. If you do choose to decline coverage, check with your own insurance and credit card companies to see if you are covered.
Here is the breakdown of the final stage of booking and costs:
Note that there is a “Trip Fee,” the portion of your booking that Turo takes for customer service and running the platform. Be sure to check how much this adds per day to your rental.
Thrifty Tip #2: Many car rental companies charge young drivers between 21 and 25 a hefty surcharge. Turo charges drivers under 25 up to $15 a day (or 30% of the entire trip price), so it’s generally a far better option for younger drivers.
Be sure to turn on notifications for the Turo app on your phone. This will allow you to communicate with the car owner before your trip.
I got a few notifications of my upcoming car rental the week before my trip. Coordinating with the car owner was slick: Turo’s messaging interface allowed me to share flight information.
It is important to note that to use Turo, you’ll need to have the app and be able to use it on your trip. This is the key to communication, as well as picking up and dropping off your rental.
When you begin your Turo rental experience, the app will prompt you with a few reminders. First, it will request you “check-in” the car – take some photos of its current condition and confirm you’ve picked the car up.
The Turo app will remind also you of “Trip Rules,” such as bringing your license, keeping the car tidy, the correct gas for the car, and the number of miles included in the rental. You can also see the pick-up instructions and guidelines.
The car owner, Shawn, picked us right up from the arrival door. Most of the information was covered in the car profile on Turo, but he also pointed out the windshield wipers, lights, turn signals, push to start, car chargers and AUX cord, and so on.
Some Turo rental owners will be more hands-off, letting the app do the work for the pick-up and drop-off procedures. So your mileage may vary.
After this brief three-minute overview at the airport, we parted ways with Shawn and were off!
Communicating with the car owner during our trip was simple. We used the in-app messenger to go over any other questions and coordinate drop-off details for the end of our trip. Our car owner was attentive and responsive.
We didn’t have any issues with the car during our trip but felt assured knowing that the owner would respond quickly if we did. Our Mini Cooper fit perfectly into smaller parking spots around Denver!
Dropping off the car was just as easy as picking it up! First, be sure to follow the “Check Out” process on the Turo app:
Once you’ve uploaded some photos of how you left the car and gone through the check-out prompts, you’re set to turn it in.
The car owner met us promptly at the departures area of the airline we were flying home. We chatted about our experience with the car and in the city, he thanked us for renting, and we were on our way.
Renting a car on Turo is even easier than a standard car rental! If Turo is available in your destination city, I recommend checking it out on your next trip. Turo is great because:
- The app is easy to use and communicate with the car owner.
- No lines or paperwork at the airport car rental stands – know what you’re getting and get in and out in under three minutes.
- It’s great for renters aged 21-25 who would otherwise be charged a higher cost by a rental company.
- Free or cheap pick-up and drop-off from the airport or another location.
Just keep in mind that:
- You’ll need to download and use the app during your trip.
- Filter cars by free or cheap pick-up and drop-off at the airport or another location.
- Filter by daily price, amenities, and other car features.
Overall, I had a great experience with Turo. The pick-up and drop-off process was smooth and speedy, communication with the owner was easy within the app, and I loved not having to spend time in line or doing paperwork at the airport. I highly recommend trying it out at your next destination.
This post has been updated to show that Turo has started charging younger drivers a reasonable fee for rentals.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.