Travelers are seeing a sharp uptick in prices and shortage of rental cars, mainly due to high demand and low inventory. Many people are also hesitant to travel by planes and are opting for road trips instead, contributing to the unusually high rental prices.
Meanwhile, there is not enough supply of vehicles for most rental car companies to keep up with the increasing demand. This leads to consumers looking into cheaper alternatives that show more availability.
Fortunately, there are several non-traditional rental car options available. Some operate similarly to Airbnb, where owners can rent out their private cars and find renters through an app.
Well, the next time you need to rent a vehicle for your vacation, here are the best car rental alternatives you can consider.
Being one of the largest rental car options, Turo connects private car owners with renters across the U.S. and worldwide. Turo’s interface is similar to Airbnb: you enter the date and location to see the list of all potential cars for rent.
You can click each option to see the car’s photos, details (number of doors, type of transmission, and miles per gallon), and other requirements. Most cars can be booked by renters aged 21 and above.
Turo offers a roadside 24/7 assistance policy and well-defined insurance options. Cars are usually available for pick up at a designated pickup location.
It could be the owner’s place or a public area, like a park. Some owners can deliver the car to you at an airport or hotel for an additional fee.
There are also cars that offer the Turo Go feature, which allows you to unlock the vehicle via an app for remote and contactless pickups. It is available in Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco.
Ridesharing giant Lyft recently launched Lyft Rentals, allowing people to rent cars through its app. This rental car alternative is available in around 30 major cities in the United States, including the Hawaiian islands.
Lyft Rentals offers many perks and add-ons, like waived fees for second drivers, unlimited mileage without extra fees, complimentary child seats, USB chargers, and ski racks. Lyft also charges the local market rates for gas, with no additional fees.
Lyft has partnered with a traditional rental car company Sixt, which lets you rent Sixt cars via the Lyft app. If you rent a car using your smartphone app, you can get a free ride to its parking lot.
Taking a Lyft to your rental car also gives you credit. Upon arrival, a Lyft employee at the rental lot will assist you and hand over the keys.
Getaround is one of the peer-to-peer car rental alternatives that work similarly to Turo. It allows you to find and book a private car without having to meet the owner. But unlike Turo, Getaround only operates in around 20 major metro locations across the United States.
The app offers a wide variety of vehicles that you can rent per hour. Cancellation is free up to 24 hours before your booking date.
You can pick up and drop off the car at a designated parking spot or a parking garage. The car is unlocked using a Bluetooth-connected app.
This membership-based car-sharing service (owned by Avis) offers car rentals by the hour or day. Zipcar provides high-quality branded vehicles to its members in major U.S. cities and other countries, including Canada, the United Kingdom, Costa Rica, Turkey, Taiwan, and Iceland.
You can simply apply for membership online and pay a one-time $25 application fee. In most cases, you will get approved instantly. Members pay either a monthly or annual subscription fee plus hourly or day rates per rental.
One of the biggest advantages of this service is the flexibility to rent a car for 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You don’t need to go to a car rental office or pay for overnight parking.
Like other rental car options, Zipcar shows vehicles with instant availability. They are usually parked in small parking lots or designated spaces around the city.
You can easily unlock the car using the Zipcar app. Then, simply return it to the same place when you’re done with your trip.
Silvercar, owned by Audi, operates an all-Audi fleet of vehicles. You can rent sedans or SUVs from select Audi dealerships and other rental locations in 31 cities across the U.S.
The Silvercar app lets you reserve and unlocks the Audi car without having to deal with offices or key pickups. However, it is not available in smaller, regional markets.
While some car rentals may require you to visit an Audi dealership near you, most locations also offer a contactless, app-based service called Delivery to You. They will deliver the car to your location if you’re within a particular distance to the dealership.
In addition to its flexible rental terms and payment options, Silvercar offers free child car seats (reserved in advance) and ski racks. There is also a Silvercar loyalty program that allows frequent renters to get free rental car days.
Silvercar by Audi may not be the best option if you’re traveling on a budget. You can find other car rental alternatives that offer a standard sedan for half the price of the lowest-cost Audi rental.
Avail is a peer-to-peer rental service by Allstate Insurance, which offers newer cars in its fleet. It guarantees booking and reservation with no deposit or other hidden fees, especially if you’re under 25 or want to add a second driver.
Like other rental car options, you can rent remotely through the Avail app or website and collect the vehicle at select airports. Avail currently operates in major U.S. cities, including Chicago, Dallas, and Miami.
To avoid a refueling charge, Avail cars have a 150 mile per day limit and should be returned with the same gas levels. Overall, this rental car alternative is a great option to consider for young travelers or families.
If you don’t mind renting a moving truck to go from one place to another, U-Haul may be worth considering. While it may not be the most comfortable option, this rental service is ideal for local, short trips rather than long-haul travel.
U-Haul operates a vast network nationwide, offering a huge fleet of vehicles for relatively cheap rates and mileage fees.
Although Hagerty DriveShare operates the same way as other rental car options, the company focuses on specialty cars. This allows you to rent classic high-performance or vintage vehicles for a more memorable trip.
Because of this, rental prices and security deposits are higher than usual. All bookings also have a 10% service fee. If your home is within a reasonable range, some owners offer the option to deliver the car to your location.
This rental car company is operated by AAA Northern California, with its expansion rapidly growing. It currently operates in Sacramento, Seattle, and the San Francisco Bay Area.
GIG Car Share is the only company that exclusively offers hybrid or electric car rentals, like Prius and Chevy Bolt. Using the GIG app, you can find available cars outlined in the “HomeZone” area and book one. From there, you can travel and drive anywhere within the U.S. and make as many stops as you like. You just need to make sure that you end your trip and return the car in a “HomeZone.”
GIG Car Share gives you the option to rent by the minute, hour, day, or pre-packaged extended periods. No need for membership fees since you will only pay for the time that you use the car. However, any damage to the car is not covered by the insurance included. By driving carefully, you can avoid a long list of fees.
Mocean Carshare is a pilot program from Hyundai that enables you to pick up and drop off vehicles wherever you want as long as it’s within a certain range. This new car-sharing service uses an app to start the ignition of the cars, which are all keyless and eco-friendly hybrids. Currently, Mocean Carshare only operates in Los Angeles.
As you can see, you have plenty of non-traditional car hire alternatives to choose from. Keep the above list in mind, and you’ll never run out of options when it comes to renting a car for your trip!