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Car rentals too expensive or sold out? Here's why you should try Turo instead

Aug. 30, 2022
8 min read
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.


If you’re a fan of Airbnb’s business model when finding a place to stay, then consider Turo instead of a traditional rental car. For those unfamiliar with Turo, it’s a service that allows you to borrow a local’s car rather than renting from a car rental company.

Currently, Turo is available in more than 7,500+ cities across the U.S., in select Canadian provinces (Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Quebec) and in the United Kingdom. It’s become an attractive alternative to traditional car rental companies as daily prices have skyrocketed and supply is limited.

Related: Can’t find a car rental? Here are 7 secrets that may help

How Turo works

It’s quite simple to start using Turo. Start by setting up an account, verify your identity and then you’re free to pick whichever car you want.

You can sort through a variety of filters such as price, model or the ability to book instantly. Once you’ve selected your car, go through the checkout process and make arrangements for pick-up or drop-off with the car owner.

Steps and basic information for using Turo. TURO

Our personal experiences using Turo

I have used Turo multiple times, with my first rental less than a year ago. My experiences have been extremely positive. Experiences are subjective, but I would rate my experience with my eight Turo rentals as a 9 out of 10.

As the rental car apocalypse unfolded in the summer of 2021, Turo gained popularity and attention. It can also be a great option if you find a car near where you currently are — rather than trekking to a car rental location, often located at an airport. For instance, I used Turo to rent a car for a few hours in Honolulu, finding an option around the corner from my hotel at a time when traditional rental cars were sold out.

When renting a car on Turo, experiences can vary. Typically, you will meet the owner to show your driver's license and inspect the car together before receiving the keys and driving off. You may also receive an explanation about any particulars with that car, where to park on your return or maybe an access code to get into the parking garage on your return. On my first rental, the car's owner was at work and verified my ID after I uploaded a selfie while holding my driver's license. Then, he unlocked the car remotely and told me where the keys were hidden.

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Some Turo owners will even bring the car to you, depending on where you are. Note that there is a fee for this, however, so it's situation-dependent whether it makes more sense to pick up your car to save money on the fee.

Once you are ready to drive off with the car, you'll complete check-in through the Turo app and answer questions about whether there is existing damage. You also have the option to upload photos of the vehicle. This is very handy for noting any existing damages, whether the car is dirty or full of sand from previous passengers, etc.

TURO

Taylor Jenkins, director of audience development at TPG, also had a positive experience recently. He rented a 2019 Jeep Renegade that the owner had outfitted with a pop-up tent and refrigerator. Thus, the vehicle became transportation and lodging for a road trip with camping and hiking involved during Taylor's family trip to California. There was a delivery fee of $120 for the driver to bring the vehicle to Taylor's family at the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and then retrieve it a week later.

Becca Manheimer, senior director of marketing and communications, agreed that Turo rental price points can be lower than rental car costs these days. For her, this outweighed the inconvenience of picking up a car that wasn't at her arrival airport on a previous vacation. She pointed out that there was an Apple AirTag in the car, which the owner could use to track the vehicle's location. As with any car rental, she took a video of the car's condition when picking it up and dropping it off, which helped her avoid a false claim for damage by a vehicle owner on a previous rental.

Kevin Martinez, an associate web publisher with TPG, loved using Turo because he's under 25 years old. Traditional rental car companies wanted to charge him extra fees, while the "young driver" fee was significantly less with Turo. He and his friends found renting from Turo as young drivers significantly cheaper than renting from a traditional source.

Alex Maben, a senior product designer, echoed this feeling from her recent trip to Orange County, California. On this solo trip, her hotel was a 30-minute from the beach. Renting from Turo — rather than using Uber to go to the beach every day — became significantly cheaper than using Uber. It was also priced lower than traditional rental cars at the time of her visit.

Thus, when traditional rental cars become expensive — because of demand, your destination or what you're looking to accomplish — Turo has been great for many TPG staffers.

Related: Benét on a budget: Saving on an Orlando family vacation

When and when not to use Turo

There are many positives to using Turo. Firstly, the app is user-friendly and can help you make last-minute changes in a jiffy.

Secondly, in our experience, we haven't run into hidden fees; all of the charges have been made clear from the start. Experiences can vary based on the owner, obviously.

Next, for drivers under age 25, Turo is great for avoiding the pricier young driver fees that some car rental companies charge. For example, Hertz charges $19 a day for young drivers.

Lastly, Turo is a great option if you’re making a round-trip drive to and from your destination.

TURO

However, there are some downsides too. If you’re planning a one-way trip, then you’re better off renting a car that allows for picking up and dropping off in a different city.

The major downside to Turo is that it’s most likely not covered under your credit card’s rental car insurance, as the service isn’t managed by an official car rental agency, such as Budget or Enterprise. It's a peer-to-peer service. You’re not completely out of options, however. Turo sells its own protection plans that range from 15% to 100% of the trip price.

Related: Are Turo car rentals covered by credit card insurance?

Earning points and miles on Turo rentals

Turo doesn’t have airline partners like some of the big car rentals companies, so there’s not a ton of opportunity to double-dip. However, do make sure to add your Delta SkyMiles number to your Turo account to earn 2,000 miles on your first trip and 500 miles on all others.

Beyond earning points and miles with an airline, you can also earn bonus points through your credit card because Turo codes as travel. Here are some of the best credit cards for earning points on Turo rentals:

The information for the Amex Green card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Bottom line

Turo is a fantastic alternative to renting a car. It could ultimately end up saving you money and may be able to offer you more flexibility.

Although it’s only available in certain countries, we can see the service becoming more widespread as its popularity grows.

Remember to use a credit card that earns bonus points on travel purchases to book your Turo rentals.

Featured image by AUSTIN NEILL VIA UNSPLASH
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023