Traditional rental car companies are no longer your only option for renting a ride when you’re out of town. Car-sharing apps, essentially Airbnb for car owners, make renting a privately owned vehicle possible for hours, days, or even longer. Many times, these apps are cheaper than a traditional rental car too. However, if you rent from a car-sharing app, follow these tips to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip.
Tips For Using Car Share Apps
- Get to know the app in advance. Most car share companies complete their transactions and allow you to communicate with the car’s owner through an app. Be sure to download the app ahead of time, set up a profile, and get familiar with how booking, messaging and reaching out to customer service work. Don’t leave this step until the last minute. Remember that some apps take time to approve you as a driver before you can rent. You may need to upload a picture of your license, so make sure you use the actual app, not an imitation.
- Consider all fees. Part of the appeal of car share apps is their competitive prices. However, don’t take daily rates at face value. As with most online booking services, always review the fees and taxes before you finalize your booking. Most apps charge a “trip fee” to cover customer service and other platform expenses. In addition, hosts may charge a delivery or pick-up fee. In most cases, you can filter your results to include only cars that offer free delivery.
- Read plenty of reviews. Since you aren’t dealing with a traditional rental car company, know that quality and cleanliness can vary from car to car. The best way to see if you are renting a car that is clean and in good mechanical condition is to read other users’ reviews. If you spot reports that the car was dirty, the owner wasn’t communicative, or there were mechanical issues, look for a different vehicle.
- Think about insurance. Most car-share apps offer insurance policies you can add to your trip, so review them closely before choosing one that fits your needs. If you usually use your credit card’s rental insurance or your regular auto insurance policy to cover rentals, get in touch to see if they cover car-share vehicles too. Insurance that covers car-share cars may not always be the case.
- Examine the car closely before approving your reservation. It’s always a good idea to look over the vehicle carefully upon pick-up to ensure it lives up to its description on the app. If you notice any mechanical or otherwise issues, inform the owner and reach out to the app’s customer service line immediately. It may be best to decline the reservation and let the company set up a replacement car for you.
- Get to know the car you are renting and ask lots of questions. If you rent a car make or model you haven’t driven before, do some research before picking it up. Ask the owner if their car has any quirks that you should know. You may also want to ask where to find basic controls, such as headlights, cruise control, and windshield wipers.
- Be sure you have the app set up correctly. If you book through the app, be sure to turn on notifications, so you receive messages about the rental. Some apps even use Bluetooth connectivity to unlock the car, so you never have to meet the owner in person. If you use this app, ensure your phone is charged and has service when you drop off and pick up the car.
- Watch out for scams. Follow the car share company policies carefully. Only do it if a vehicle owner asks you to do business outside the app or disregards pick-up or drop-off instructions. If you violate a company’s policy, even at the owner’s insistence, you could be held liable for damages or theft (real or invented) reported by the owner. If an issue arises, contact customer service immediately and ask them how to proceed.
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