An introduction to carshare service Turo

Feb 2, 2020

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If you’re a fan of Airbnb’s business model when finding a place to stay, then consider Turo for your car rental needs.

For those unfamiliar with what exactly Turo is, it’s a car sharing service that allows you to borrow a local’s car — much as you would rent from a traditional car rental. Currently, Turo is available is 5,500+ cities across the United States, Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom. Here’s how it works.

Photo courtesy of Turo.

How it works

Turo works essentially the same way that Airbnb does. You set 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 you then go through the checkout process and make arrangements with the car owner.

My experience

I recently used Turo for the first time while visiting Montréal and was shocked at just how easy it was to get a car. My friend and I hadn’t planned on leaving Montréal, but we kept hearing great things about Quebec City. Eventually we decided that a visit was a must. One morning we woke up and decided to check the app to see if there were any cars available day of, and sure enough, there were plenty.

We chose the cheapest car because all we needed was a vehicle to get us to and from Quebec City. After putting in all of my information and scheduling the pickup, we hopped in an Uber and made our way to the car owner’s house. (You can also schedule for the car to be delivered for a fee, but logistically it made more sense for us to go pick up the car ourselves.)

Once we arrived, the owner met us and explained the rules of the car and checked my license. I checked in on the app, which then prompted me to check the car for and document any damage. During the “inspection,” the app automatically opened up the camera, organized my pictures and automatically added them to the booking for documentation. Once that was done, we were on our way.

Initially, we borrowed the car for 24 hours, but later decided we wanted to keep it a little longer. The app allowed us to easily make the changes and showed us any additional charges we would incur upfront. When I went to return the car I had a change of plans with my flight, so I needed to get to the airport sooner than planned. Once again it was super easy to change through the app. The car owner quickly replied, accepted the change and agreed to meet me at the airport. When I arrived to the airport cellphone parking lot, he took over the driver’s seat and dropped me off right at the terminal — it was great.

Overall, I thought the whole process was very simple and seamless, from the last-minute booking to all of the changes I made along the way. Another feature I really enjoyed was the fact that the under 25 fee wasn’t outrageous. I was only charged a $10.30 CAD young driver’s fee.

I’m definitely planning on using Turo again thanks to its ease of use and the convenience of it all.

When and when not to use Turo

Turo is great if you’re making a round-trip drive. However, if you’re planning a one-way trip then you’re better off renting a car that allows for different city pickup and drop-offs. I really enjoyed how simple the app was to use and make changes. I liked how there were no hidden fees — all of the charges were made clear from the start.

I’m sure it depends on the car owner, but I found Turo to be super accommodating. The person I borrowed a car from was flexible, which I really appreciated. If you’re under 25 like me, Turo is great for avoiding the pricier young driver fees that some car rental companies charge.

Overall, the only reason for you not to use Turo is if you’re planning a one-way road trip or if it’s not currently offered where you need it.

Earning Points and Miles

Turo doesn’t have a ton of airline partners like some of the big car rentals companies, so there’s not a ton of opportunity to double dip. However, they do occasionally partner with airlines like Southwest to offer bonus miles.

Beyond earning points and miles with an airline, you can earn bonus points through your credit card because Turo codes as travel. For example, I booked my trip with my Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and earned 2x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar. Later on I can transfer to a partner airline or hotel. It was also comforting to know that I had primary rental coverage from using my CSP (see full terms and conditions here).

Here are some other cards you should consider when booking:

Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Earn 3x points on travel purchases and enjoy primary car rental coverage (read the terms and conditions of coverage here)

Citi Premier® Card: Earn 3x points on travel purchases

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Earn 2x miles on travel purchases

The information for the Citi Premier 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 great alternative to renting a car. It could ultimately end up saving you money and may be able to offer you more flexibility. I had a very pleasant first experience with the service and plan to use it again when available and when it fits my travel plans. If you’re in the market for a car rental, definitely check out Turo.

(Featured photo by Dave G Kelly/The Points Guy)

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