Should you use Getaround car rental service? A Getaround review

One of the most exciting developments in tech and the economy is the ability for pretty much anyone to make money with stuff they already have.

Rent a room in your house with Airbnb. Make money with your spare time and car with Uber and Lyft.

Getaround is another incredible way to make money with very little effort — in this case, by renting out your car, which can be a great deal for travelers looking for a rental car at a lower price. 

WHAT IS GETAROUND?

Getaround is one of the most notable of the car-sharing companies.

It's like an Airbnb, but instead of renting out your house when you’re not around, you’re renting out your car when you’re not using it, and making easy money while you’re at it.

Getaround competes with traditional car rental companies, offering clients lower rates and more flexibility with renting. 

With hourly and daily rental options, there are so many possibilities.

Need to haul a few extra kids to their after-school activities? Great!

Need a bigger vehicle to bring home your new couch?

On vacation and want to save on a car rental? Excellent.

Your regular car in the shop and need a ride for a few days?

Getaround is a great option.

(By the way, if you’re doing this, you should also read my guide to buying a car solo!)

Whether you’re the vehicle owner or the renter, the Getaround process is simple.

HOW DOES GETAROUND WORK?

Getaround's algorithm matches car owners with potential drivers looking for a rental car.

Drivers have a choice of which car they’d like to rent, and post a description on the app.

Car owners set the length of time their car will be available, and drivers search for cars by length of anticipated rental time.

Using a phone app, drivers find your car and unlock it through Getaround’s Connect system – a GPS tracking and cellular communications system that helps make this whole process more secure for both parties. 

The Connect system interfaces with users’ smartphones, allowing owners to feel in control of their car, even when it's not in their possession.

Owners can leave keys locked inside and tell drivers where to find them upon pickup. 

As far as protections for car owners, the Getaround Connect system has GPS tracking, tamper detection and an engine lock — for the off event you see that your Prius is the subject of a high-speed car chase on the evening news.

Plus, owners can always track down their car and unlock it with their phones.

Getaround screens both car owners and drivers.

Similarly, both owner and drivers can provide reviews of their experience, which keeps everyone in check and safe.

WHAT ARE THE COST SAVINGS OF USING GETAROUND?

Let’s look at three of the biggest traditional car rental companies.

In Washington, D.C., rates vary among Enterprise, Hertz and Avis for a 24-hour rental on a weekday.

For the compact car category (think Nissan Versa), Enterprise charges $42 for a one-day rental, Hertz charges $43 and Avis wants $48.

Getaround boasts a much bigger price range based on the make and model of the car you choose.

For example, a Versa shows up on Getaround for $61 for eight hours, but some slightly roomier cars show up in the $30/$40 range for that same time frame, including a Toyota Camry and a Honda Accord.

It ultimately boils down to what car owners set their prices at.

But hourly rentals offer a bigger chance to save.

If you’re only visiting for an afternoon, or you live in D.C. and want to run an errand, this could be good option.

I looked for a eight-hour rental, and immediately saw some tempting options: A 2015 Versa for $23 total, a Scion xD for $20 and a 2007 Honda CR-V for $19, to name a few.

Getaround’s strongest footprint is the Bay Area, with service in San Francisco (where it’s based), Oakland and Berkeley.

There’s also service in Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Seattle, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., San Diego, Austin, Texas, and Portland, Oregon.

There are some major metro areas missing out (hello, New York!?), but Getaround suggests that people sign up for the service anyway so that it can identify potential new areas with high demand.

HOW TO RENT YOUR CAR ON GETAROUND

If your car is a 2005 or newer model with under 125,000 miles on it, you’re qualified to rent it out using Getaround.

First, download the Getaround app or access their site on your desktop.

Once you select “List your car,” you’ll enter your car’s year, answer whether or not the mileage is under 125,000 miles, fill out your basic contact info, and tell them how you found them (*cough, cough*).

Then, sign in to your Facebook account when prompted.

Getaround uses Facebook for both car owners and drivers to verify identity and add an accountability factor.

Next, Getaround wants you to name your car — you’ll actually be able to share a link to your car (getaround.com/whateveryounameyourcar), which you can use to promote your ride.

You’ll then set up an address where you want drivers to pick up and return your car.

The location is sent privately with your rental instructions to drivers.

You set your car’s availability — you can do a recurring schedule or even set aside days when your car won’t be available.

Getaround will take high-quality photos of your car to really make it look legit.

Plus, Getaround will also swing by, pick up your car and install Connect, Getaround's proprietary security system.

Connect gives owners control over their vehicles via their smartphones.

This system allows owners to track their car with GPS, lock the engine and disable the starter in the case of improper behavior on the renter's part, lock and unlock their car from anywhere and track renters' behavior.

If at any point you would like to uninstall the system, simply take your vehicle to an authorized mechanic, have the system removed, and send it back to Getaround.

Getaround charges you $99 for the Connect system.

For car owners, there’s a $20 monthly fee, which will be waived for a one-month trial period.

Also during that trial, you won’t have to pay for the Connect hardware — those fees are billed one month after you first sign up.

You can have Connect uninstalled for free during that 30-day trial, and Getaround will give you a five-day grace period.

How much money can you make renting your car on Getaround?

Getaround says people who rent out their cars through the service can make as much as $10,000 in a year.

That’s not going to be true in every case, but it gives you an idea of the potential.

According to Getaround, the average car owner makes about $6,000 a year.

The minimum fee charged is $5 per hour, but prices are higher according to the make, model and year.

I found a 2013 BMW X1 in D.C. that rents for $7.15 per hour, a 2016 Lexus NC 200t for $6.65 per hour, and a 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class Coupe for $13.25 per hour. Not too shabby!

What you make is up to you — you set the price and availability.

Of the price you set, Getaround takes a 40% commission on rental earnings.

Once your car goes on the marketplace, Getaround automatically sets the price at its recommended rate, which it calculates based on your car’s location, demand in the area, and your car’s year, make and model.

According to Getaround, keeping your car’s price at the recommended rate will help you make the most of your earnings, but you can adjust the settings.

Rental earnings accrue monthly and are sent to car owners by the middle of the next month with an earnings report.

IS GETAROUND CAR RENTAL SAFE?

Yes. Getaround is integrated with the DMV and they are able to automatically check driver records in real time for every new renter.

To verify renters’ identities, the company cross-checks driving records with social profiles, like Facebook, the credit bureau, and 16 other points of reference.

Getaround also has strict minimum eligibility requirements that all renters must meet before they can rent a Getaround car.

These requirements include having a license for a minimum of two years, having no more than two minor violations or at-fault accidents in the past three years, and having no DUIs or drug-related offenses in the past seven years. 

Getaround's auto insurance policy covers incidents during an active trip and covers both the owner and the renter.

There is a $1000 damage fee per incident, and the renter is responsible for this amount.

The Getaround insurance policy includes comprehensive, collision, and liability coverage up to $1 million through Crawford & Company.

Should a renter receive a parking citation or a moving or non-moving violation, the cost is their responsibility.

Getaround enforces this by reimbursing drivers for non-point violations (most parking citations and traffic cameras) and collecting from renters separately.

In the case of a point violation (traffic tickets, other more serious tickets), Getaround requests that driver not pay the fines, and instead email help@getaround.com.

They will then work with the issuing authority to transfer liability to the renter.

No violations, citations, or tickets will affect the owner's records. 

WHAT IS THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT?

People who don’t own cars tend to have less of an impact on the environment because that’s one less engine burning fossil fuels.

According to Getaround, sharing your car has the equivalent of taking 10 cars off the road.

Not only does that lessen pollution, but think of how that could ease traffic.

PROS AND CONS OF RENTING OUT YOUR CAR

PROS

  • Lots of insurance: Getaround renters are insured for $1 million in primary insurance, and drivers are screened to make sure they have a safe record behind the wheel. The insurance includes primary, liability, collision, comprehensive, theft and uninsured motorist protection.
  • Your car works for you. Great passive income.
  • You set the rules. Don’t want pets in your car? You can make that part of the deal. Getaround says it helps enforce no-smoking policies in cars.
  • You set your car’s hours.

CONS

  • Getaround isn’t available in a lot of cities, so it’s not an option for so many people who want to share their cars. See if your city offers Getaround here.
  • People could totally trash your car, not have it back on time or even leave it far away. Yes, there are repercussions for them and you’ll be compensated, but that doesn't mean there won't be hassle or annoyance.
  • Wear and tear. This might seem like effortless money, but even if drivers return your car clean with a full tank of gas, you have to remember that every mile takes a toll. Ultimately, service is up to you, and this has the potential to make your visits to a mechanic more frequent.
  • Some insurers are not fond of their customers’ vehicles being listed on car-sharing marketplaces. It’s a good idea to check with your car insurance provider before signing up. You don’t want to get dropped.

WHAT IS IT LIKE TO RENT A CAR ON GETAROUND?

THE STEP-BY-STEP PROCESS OF RENTING

In order to rent a car with Getaround, the signup process looks much the same as for owners.

But instead of listing your car, you’ll be taken to a screen where you enter the address or area where you’re looking to find a car, plus the length of time and number of days you’d like to borrow it.

You can choose to either make a reservation for sometime in the future, or rent it on the spot.

Options will begin popping up right away, listing their distance from you, their rates and the car’s photos.

Click each car to see the owner’s descriptions, rules (pet-friendly, non-smoking, where exactly it’s located, etc.), and see the car’s booking schedule.

Enter your license info and payment method, and you’re all set!

HOW DOES GETAROUND COMPARE TO TRADITIONAL CAR RENTALS?

For starters, you may have more choices in make, model and year.

You also get to avoid lines and mounds of paperwork, and you may wind up saving some money.

Expedia charges $77 per day (before fees and taxes) to rent a Nissan Maxima, and Getaround charges $45 plus taxes for the same car and same amount of time.

Renting a Toyota RAV4 with HotWire will cost you $61 per day (plus fees and taxes), while Getaround will set you back $41 plus taxes for the same car.

You could spend $75 for a Volkswagen Jetta (plus taxes and fees) for a day, or you could rent a 2016 Mini Cooper for $45 for the day.

Be careful though, based on demand, you could wind up renting an older car for more money.

It can be a gamble — there’s a level of standards at a traditional car rental company that you may not find with each car for rent on Getaround.

As you can probably guess, larger car rental companies aren’t taking this friendly competition lying down: many have developed their own apps and are offering competitive daily rates with the same level of ease and convenience.

But, as we’ve seen in years prior with Uber vs. taxi companies and the AirBnb vs. the hotel industry, there are advantages and disadvantages of this new business model.

 

PROS AND CONS OF RENTING A CAR ON GETAROUND

PROS

  • You get a personal description of the car you’re renting. For example, in the case of a Toyota Tacoma listed in Washington, the owner explains that the truck is pet-friendly and pitches it as a “brand new, super sexy” pickup with a matted truck bed that “ensures your cooler doesn’t slip around.” Now THAT’S a guarantee!
  • You have a lot of leeway with your options. Some people listing their cars name amenities like dashboard GPS, satellite radio or even miles per gallon — that last one could wind up saving you a few bucks while you’re exploring.
  • Getaround offers 24/7 roadside assistance and customer support during rentals.
  • Much cheaper than traditional car rental services
  • More environmentally friendly to share a car with others
  • You can work with an individual rather than a large corporation

CONS

  • We all want to be careful with any vehicle we rent, but there’s a special onus when it’s someone’s personal property. Sure, employees at rental car companies have work to do if a rental gets beat up, but it probably won’t have the same kind of impact on their personal life.
  • If you return the car late, you will have to pay a late fee of $50 per hour plus the hourly rate. Additionally, if you cancel your trip less than 24 hours before it’s scheduled to start, you may be charged a cancellation fee of 50 percent of the trip price.
  • The flip side of avoiding lines at rental companies is that you might have to do some legwork to get to your Getaround rental. If you’ve just flown into town, would you rather take care of everything at the airport (traditional rental) or haul your luggage around while you track down a car in a city you may not know (Getaround)?
  • Younger riders pay more. Renters younger than 25 will get stuck with additional fees, ranging from 5 percent of the trip price for a 24-year-old driver to a hefty 75 percent of the trip price for a 19-year-old driver. Lots of things really do get better with age.

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Some of the links in this and other posts generate a commission. I never recommend products that I don’t truly believe in. Seriously – I get asked to write about stuff all the time and turn down hard cash if I’m not feeling it.


holly johnson money writer
Holly Johnson

Holly Johnson is a financial expert, award-winning writer, and Indiana mother of two who is obsessed with frugality, budgeting and travel. Her personal finance articles have been published in the U. S. News, Wall Street Journal, Fox Business, and Life Hacker. Holly is founder of of the family finance resource, ClubThrifty.com, and is the co-author of Zero Down Your Debt: Reclaim Your Income and Build a Life You’ll Love. Learn more about Holly here.

About Holly Johnson

Holly Johnson is a financial expert, award-winning writer, and Indiana mother of two who is obsessed with frugality, budgeting and travel. Her personal finance articles have been published in the U. S. News, Wall Street Journal, Fox Business, and Life Hacker. Holly is founder of of the family finance resource, ClubThrifty.com, and is the co-author of Zero Down Your Debt: Reclaim Your Income and Build a Life You’ll Love. Learn more about Holly here.

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