Alternatives to Car Hire

Car rentals can be a pretty frustrating endeavor. There’s always the risk of overpaying, getting cars that are not worth the price they come in, getting poorly conditioned cars, and of course – sweet-talking sales agents who are so good at making you pay for unnecessary extras. This makes it necessary to hunt down for the next best alternative cars.

We’ve rounded up some of the available substitute solutions for your car hire needs. Check them out below.

Alternative Cars to Hire

  • Zipcar – Zipcar is an exclusive car sharing “club” that charges by the hour. The company promises the “freedom to go where you want, when you want, with the wheels you want”.
  1. How it works: You have to create an account with Zipcar (via the website or the app) before you could start renting the car. Unless you’re affiliated with a university in partnership with Zipcar, the membership is only available for drivers over 21 years old. After signing up, Zipcar sends you a membership card that allows you to lock and unlock every car you rent. Through the website or the app, you can reserve the car make that you want, pick it up at the spot that Zipcar provides (including airports), and drive away. Zipcar offers one-way option which means you have to drive back to the pickup location to return the car.
  2. Payment: In the US, membership fee is at $7 per month or $70 per year while driving rates cost $7 to $10 per hour. Monthly fee covers the costs of insurance and gas of up to 180 miles per day. Sharing a car with Zipcar has a cap of 7 days.
  3. Locations: US, Canada, Austria, France, Spain, UK, Turkey
  4. Review:Zipcar works only for city driving and is the best alternative for local drivers who needs to drive short and regular distances without having to own a car
  • GetaroundGetaround is a car sharing app that acts as a middleman between local car owners and potential renters. It is advertised as a way to make money from extra cars sitting idly at home. For renters, it offers cheaper alternative cars without the hassle of car rental but with almost the same conveniences.
  1. How it works: As a renter, you can pick from the listed cars on the locations included in the app. You have to pay an hourly rate to Getaround plus cover the costs of gas. Membership is free and it comes with insurance and the promise of 24/7 roadside assistance. Getaround also promises to make the first-time rental process easy – license and credit cards are verified within a minute!
  2. Payment: Membership is free but rental costs $5 per hour.
  3. Locations: Portland, San Francisco, San Diego, Austin, Chicago
  4. Review: Very limited use as you have to have set reservation time so it works best for short drives and mostly for local drivers. There is also not much assurance on the condition of the car because you cannot fully rely on what the owner says about the car.
  • Flightcar – is another car sharing app/company that lets local drivers rent their cars to travelers while they are away. Renting is exclusive to members.
  1. How it works: Flightcar offers a members-only rental system where you can rent the private cars parked at their parking facility near the airport. You have to sign up for free membership, and you have to be over 21 years old to rent. Underage drivers (18-20) are allowed to drive Flightcars but for an added fee. Each car comes with a GPS, car insurance, as well as car seats. Flightcar also offers to pick you up and drop you off at the airport or anywhere as long as it is within ten minutes of the airport. To rent, you have to bookahead through the app and see which cars are available at your preferred location.
  2. Locations: Flightcar is only available in the US: San Francisco, Boston, LA, and Seattle.
  3. Restrictions: Drivers under 25 cannot drive any car that costs more than $30,000 in current market value. The driving limit is only 100 miles per day and there are extra fees for every mile beyond that. You have to shoulder the costs of tolls and gas, and there are penalty fees for late returns.
  4. Payment: Membership fee is free. Drivers aged 18-20: $25 per day; drivers over 21, $10 per day. Excesses in the 100-mile limit costs $0.45 per mile.
  5. Review: Great for city driving and very convenient for airport travelers. It saves you from the hassles of long lines in car rentals. You have to book early and fast to make sure you have a car.
  • Relay RidesRelay Rides work a lot like Getaround and Flightcar, almost like a hybrid of both. Local owners can rent their cars via Relay Rides. They have to approve the rental within 24 hours from renter’s booking and have to ‘deliver’ their car to where the renter is (including airports). Car owners have full discretion on how much to charge and how many miles you can drive in their car. Extra miles come with a fee.
  1. How it works: To rent, you have to be over 21 and have to sign up for a free membership. You can browse from the available cars at your chosen location and book ahead. Just as the driver delivers the car to you, you also have to deliver the car back to them. Renting from Relay Rides come with insurance and 24/7 customer support.
  2. Payment: Membership is free but rental cost is on owner’s full discretion. The car owners can also charge $0.71 per mile that you drive beyond the mileage limit that they have set.
  3. Locations: Available in 49 states.
  4. Review: Best for locals but visiting tourists must practice caution in dealing with total strangers. There is no assurance of savings because owners can charge as much or as little as they want. You also have no assurance on how much gas the owners left in the car; you could pay for a car that’s running on an almost empty tank when you arrive.

Non-Car Rental Alternatives

  • RV Rental – RV’s are not exactly your cheapest option for car rental as they can really cost a lot. However, the charm of renting an RV lies on the experience itself; not to mention, they save you from the hassles and costs of having to book a hotel. Also, RV rentals offer longer mileage limits than cars so you can get much further. The downside to renting a trailer would have to be the maintenance part; after all, you’d have to clean up the toilets at some point during the journey and that’s nasty to most people.
  • Caravan Rental –caravans, like RV rentals, have its own advantages and disadvantages. While the RV is relatively easier to drive, caravans require a lot of driving expertise in towing an equally heavy load. Carelessly, crashes involving these alternative cars are more common than RV’s. However, because the caravans are detachable, you don’t have to worry about finding parking spaces as much as when you bring RV’s in little trips during your vacation.

Camping Car Rental – These alternative cars are the perfect hybrid of cars and camping tents; it is convenient and just a little bit more expensive than cars and SUVs in rental costs. The good part is, they are practically a grab and go; the bad part is, they are missing a lot of the conveniences you find in an RV or trailer home. It is great for solo adventurers or even a pair, a little too inconvenient with kids in the picture, and definitely not made for sharing with a group.

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