I took a quick trip to Denver, Colorado, last August. Once I decided on the destination, the first thing I did was check the local Airbnbs. I don’t blink an eye at the thought of renting out someone’s personal home for vacation. It makes me feel like I’m a local when I’m in a town I actually don’t know much about.
The next step was to book transportation. My husband and I found a great Airbnb in downtown Denver, but we wanted to get out of the city and explore some nearby hikes. So a car was a must-have. My husband is usually in charge of getting transportation for trips, and I was stoked when he told me the task was done.
I booked us a Jeep Grand Cherokee on Turo.
What is Turo?
What started in 2009 known as RelayRides, Turo insists that they are not a car rental company.
Rather, they are a peer-to-peer car sharing marketplace, and according to their website, “way better than a rental car.” That is, they provide a service for people to list their personal car for rent.
In a recent interview, Turo’s VP of Government Relations Michelle Peacock stated the company’s mission was “to put the world’s more than 1 billion cars to better use by allowing car owners to share their otherwise idle asset and offset the high cost of car ownership.”
The average cost to own a vehicle in 2018 jumped almost $400 from last year to $8,849.
-Source: Your Driving Costs study by AAA
Turo claims to have over 5 million registered users, plus more than 350,000 cars listed on their site spanning over 850 different makes and models. What’s more, you can check out their cars in over 5,500 cities throughout the United States, Canada, U.K. and Germany.
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Renting a car from Turo
Just like using a commercial car rental company, Turo’s website or app allows you to choose your travel dates and location so it can bring up a list of locally-owned cars available.
When I checked out Turo’s site for myself, I was impressed by the car selection. The cars available for rent all had a ton of great pictures and complete descriptions. I was also able to sort by price as well as filter by car type, features, makes and models, and even color.
Since we were flying into the Denver airport, we had to figure out if we would have a car dropped off to us or if we would go pick it up. The delivery option is nice. Each listing has its own delivery fee if the owner offers this as an option, so be sure to consider that when choosing your Turo ride. For example, some had free delivery within a certain mile radius, or free if you booked for more than a certain number of days.
Along with pictures, every car profile includes the MPG, fuel type, number of doors and how many it seats, and any car features like GPS, a bike rack or Bluetooth capability. There’s also a full description of the car, cancellation and delivery details, and what distance is included if you book the car.
Our Turo ride, 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee
Like most peer-to-peer services, the car’s “host” is also listed with a name, picture and rating.
The host of the Grand Cherokee we were interested in was David, an All-Star Host with a perfect 5.0 star rating who typically responds in 13 minutes. Not 15, not 12. 13 minutes.
Of course, reviews are included as well. My favorite part, to be honest.
So, at $70/day and 450 miles included, we had our transportation.
Turo insurance - How does it work?
Turo is backed by global insurer Liberty Mutual. For anyone listing their car with Turo, you’re covered with up to $1 million in liability insurance.
From Turo’s website:
Turo does not require you to have your own personal insurance coverage in order to book a car on our platform. If you have insurance, liability insurance offered via Turo’s insurance partner(s) will supplement your existing coverage.
For those booking a car with Turo, you’re able to choose the insurance coverage you want. Turo offers three plans with varying coverage limits, plus the option to decline coverage. We checked our personal car insurance and decided to go with Turo’s minimum protection plan to supplement our existing insurance policy. Florida's minimum coverage is $10,000 personal injury protection (PIP) and $10,000 property damage liability, meanwhile Colorado’s minimum is $25,000 per person for bodily injury; $50,000 per accident for bodily injury; $15,000 per accident for property damage.
The three protection levels offered by Turo are: premier, standard and minimum. For trips booked in the U.S., the Turo insurance cost is:
Premier - 70% of the trip price
Standard - 40% of the trip price
Minimum - 18-25% of the trip price
The minimum protection plan will have an 18% rate for a trip price that exceeds $250. If your trip price is less than $250, you will pay a 25% rate. If you’re using Turo outside of the U.S., be sure to check their site for country-specific protection plans.
Turo’s Minimum plan cost us $31.50, and here are the details:
Liability coverage up to the minimum required by the state where the car is registered.
Physical damage deductible is $3,000.
In each case, coverage is secondary to any other insurance you may already have.
>>COMPARE: Get a car insurance quote
Total cost breakdown
The grand total for three days of car rental with Turo: $262.50. That included the vehicle rental price (each car host sets their own prices for the vehicle and any extras), trip free and minimum protection plan.
The “trip fee” is described by Turo as:
This fee is a variable percentage of the Trip price. We show you the exact amount at checkout before you submit your request. It covers the costs of our 24/7 customer support, platform security and upgrades, and vendor fees.
Here’s the breakdown of how much our Turo car rental cost:
Picking up our Turo car
We grabbed an Uber to David’s once we got to Denver. It was about a 15-minute ride outside of Downtown. When we arrived, we saw a couple of cars parked outside, including the Jeep. David greeted us and walked us over to the car we’d be, um, borrowing for a few days. Just like with any rental car company, we did a walk around the car. David pointed out some small dents in the hood from an earlier hail storm, then he showed us how to use the car’s GPS and stereo system. He even had extra USB cables if we needed and gave us a few tips on some hikes to check out.
Then we drove off into the Colorado sunset. Three days later, we made our way back to David’s. After a quick walk-around, we handed him the keys and jumped back in an Uber to the airport.
Would I use Turo again?
The Jeep was the perfect choice for our trip. We had no problems heading into the mountains or driving around the city. I found the pickup/delivery process pretty easy. And I really liked the personal touch and recommendations our host offered.
Was it “way better than a rental car”? “Way” might not be the right word. I think “different” is better. It offered many of the car rental options most people are used to, but I loved having a different selection of cars to choose from and varying price points. The extra options were a nice bonus, too. The car host offered a ski rack, camping grill, child seat and airport pickup/dropoff for a small additional fee.
Could I have saved money going with a traditional car rental company? Yes. But our choices were limited to compact or economy cars. If we went with any SUV choice, it would have cost more than booking with Turo.
And, to be honest, it just felt good knowing that maybe I was providing someone with a little extra income. Maybe he was using it to pay down his mortgage, or saving up for a new Jeep.