Using a car-sharing app can be a cheaper, more convenient alternative to renting a car. Whether you need a six-seater for a long weekend or a big panel van for a quick trip to the hardware store, there is a good chance that what you’re looking for is just a few quick taps of a screen away. Not all car-sharing apps are created equal, however, and there are some basic precautions you should take before signing up to drive someone’s car.
What is car-sharing?
The most common car-sharing companies either own the cars they rent, offer privately owned vehicles (peer-to-peer car-sharing), or both. Signing up is done through the company’s website or app and is usually an easy process. All companies screen their drivers before they can rent, so a driver’s license and other personal information are required. If you want to rent your car, all companies require an inspection, and some require hardware installation so the rental can be opened with the app. All companies offer roadside assistance, insurance, and protection plans included in the price or for extra. Keep reading to learn about the best car-sharing apps available today.
Turo is the most popular peer-to-peer car-sharing service. It claims to be the world’s largest car-sharing marketplace. The company doesn’t own any of its rentals; it relies on its users’ personal vehicles for its fleet. This means that rental pick-up location are determined by the rental owner and not at a designated Turo location unless you opt for delivery. Also, most Turo rentals can’t be unlocked with the app or a card like other services because Turo Go, the hardware that allows this, is optional and not available in many areas. So drivers need to meet the owner for the key exchange unless a key box is used.
Price: Free to sign up as a driver and free to post your vehicle to rent. If rental owners opt for Turo Go, the hardware installation costs $190 and currently doesn’t have a subscription fee.
Rental rates: Daily rental rates start at about $20 for older and smaller vehicles but can easily top $100 for premium models.
How much rental owners keep: Rental owners keep 65%, 75%, or 85% of the rental rate depending on the vehicle protection plan picked.
Selection: A wide variety of privately owned vehicles, including classic and specialty vehicles.
Mileage limitation: Since it is set by the owner, mileage limitations can range from as little as 100 miles a day to unlimited miles. The normal amount is 200 miles per day, and if you want more you have the option to pay additional for it.
Gas: Not included. Drivers pay for their gas and must return the rental with the same amount.
Rental length: Turo only offers daily rentals; minute and hourly rates are not available.
ZipCar, a subsidiary of Avis, is one of the most popular services on the list and is station based, meaning drivers need to go to a designated ZipCar location to pick up the rental. If you’re approved to drive, ZipCar will mail you a membership card that opens their rentals. No need to meet an employee — just show up to the lot, find the car, and open it with the card. ZipCar is one of the few services that includes gas, but there is a monthly membership fee.
Availability: Drivers can rent through ZipCar in most states and in hundreds of universities throughout the nation.
Rental rates: Rates start at $10 an hour and $82 a day in the Los Angeles area but vary slightly depending on your city.
Price: A membership fee of $7 a month or $70 a year is required to join ZipCar. There is also a one-time $25 application fee. ZipCar also offers Extra Value Plans for drivers who drive a lot.
Selection: A wide selection of vehicles to choose from.
Mileage limitations: 180 miles per day ($0.45/mile after that).
Rental length: By the hour or day.
Getaround is similar to Turo in the sense that it’s a peer-to-peer car-sharing service that doesn’t require a subscription fee for drivers. But, with Getaround, all rentals can be unlocked with the app; you don’t have to meet the owner or mess with a key box. This requires rental owners to install hardware and pay a monthly membership fee, but it’s free for drivers.
Availability: Getaround is in over 100 U.S. cities.
Price: It’s free for drivers to sign up, but rental owners need to pay a $99 hardware fee and a $20 monthly subscription after 90 days.
Rental rates: Rates start at about $20 a day for smaller and older vehicles but can top $80 for premium models.
How much rental owners keep: Rental owners keep 60% of their rental cost.
Selection: Like Turo, Getaround has a large selection of privately owned vehicles, but unlike Turo, this does not include classic or specialty vehicles.
Mileage limitations: Drivers are limited to 20 miles an hour and up to 200 miles a day. Additional miles can be added but at a cost.
Gas: Not included. Drivers cover their gas and need to return the rental with the same gas level.
Rental length: Drivers can rent by the hour or day on Getaround.
Enterprise CarShare is unique in the sense that it mostly caters to universities and colleges. It is still available in some cities but mostly in over 100 university and college campuses across America. Like ZipCar, it’s one of the few services that includes gas, but there is a membership fee that varies depending on your Enterprise CarShare location. Rentals can be unlocked with a membership card.
Availability: Enterprise CarShare is mostly located in universities and colleges across many states and in a few select cities (also offered in Canada).
Rental rates: Starting rates vary slightly by city; for example, hourly rates in New York City start at $8 and daily rates are from $69.
Price: Enterprise charges a small one-time application fee and an annual membership fee. The application and annual membership fees vary by location.
Selection: A diverse selection of vehicles.
Mileage limitations: 200 miles per day (the overage fee varies by city).
Rental length: Can rent by the hour or day.
HyreCar is an innovative car-sharing service because you can use it for delivering food or packages as a side hustle or for your personal needs. Drivers can rent from HyreCar if their regular vehicle needs repairs or if they simply want to avoid extra putting miles on their own.
HyreCar is a peer-to-peer platform, so drivers rent vehicles directly from the car owners. Because the focus is on shorter journeys within the city or for gig-work, you’re not able to rent a HyreCar for longer road trips or frequent carpools and commutes.
The HyreCar app doesn’t include options to start the rented car via phone or card, so all vehicle rentals require face-to-face key exchanges. Since the car’s owner is in control of the rental process, asking all owners to integrate keyless controls would be a substantial cost that few people would want to take on, therefore defeating the business before it started.
Price: Free for drivers to sign up and for rental owners to list.
Rental rates: Rental rates average between $35 and $45 a day with weekly and monthly discounts available.
How much rental owners keep: Rental owners pocket 75 to 85% of the cost of the rental — which ties Turo’s best plan.
Selection: Like Uber and Getaround, HyreCar has a large selection of privately owned vehicles.
Mileage limitations: Limitations vary because the owner sets them, but the most common is 250 miles a day, and you will have to pay a per-mile fee if you go over.
Gas: Not included. Drivers must pay for their gas and replace any gas used.