Is Turo Actually Cheaper Than Traditional Car Rentals?

July 13, 2023
5/5 - (1 vote)

Turo is often more cost-effective than major car rental companies because car owners determine rates on their vehicles to attract more renters. With Turo, renters pay only for the days they need a car without extra hidden fees, and they have the chance to rent unique cars from local communities at competitive free-market prices.

How Turo's Pricing Model Works

The basics of Turo's model

Turo employs a unique peer-to-peer model compared to traditional rental car companies. Rather than setting daily rates itself, Turo allows car owners to choose the base price for renting out their vehicles. Owners can set rates based on factors like their car’s market value, demand in their local area, and how prices stack up against competitor listings on Turo.

In addition to the owner’s base rental rate, Turo charges a booking fee that’s a percentage of the total reservation cost. This fee ranges from 15% to 35% depending on variables like trip duration and rental location. Unlike rental car companies, Turo offers benefits like saving money with lower rates and accessing thousands of unique vehicles. Renters also have the option to add Turo’s protection plans for damage and liability coverage, which come with deductibles.

Unlike fixed fleet pricing from rental companies, Turo’s model means you may pay different base rates for the same make and model car depending on the owner. Turo provides guidance to owners but doesn’t dictate set rates.

Hidden fees to watch out for

While Turo’s upfront pricing can appear temptingly cheap, there are a number of easily overlooked fees to be aware of that can drive up the total cost:

  • Airport surcharges – Rentals picked up at an airport can incur fees from 10% to 40% on top of Turo’s base booking fee.
  • Delivery charges – Many owners charge a delivery fee if they must drop off the car outside a certain radius of their location.
  • Gas costs – Some owners require renters to return cars with a full tank or get charged refueling fees.
  • Mileage overages – Per mile charges ranging from $0.20 to $0.50 can add up quickly if you exceed an owner’s mileage limit.
  • Late return fees – Owners may impose hefty fees for every hour or day a car is late coming back.
  • Cleaning fees – You may get hit with cleaning charges for anything owners deem excessive wear and tear or stains.

The total with these fees can end up significantly higher than Turo’s list prices. Read the fine print and factor them in when comparison shopping.

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Key Factors Influencing Traditional Rental Car Pricing

Base rental rate

Unlike Turo’s owner-set rates, traditional rental car companies use centralized pricing for their fleet vehicles based on variables like:

  • Car class – Rates are higher for larger vehicle categories like SUVs and minivans versus economy cars.
  • Rental location – Major airport locations command higher daily base rates than neighborhood branches.
  • Peak demand – Prices for the same car can fluctuate based on high-volume holiday or seasonal periods.
  • Prepay discounts – Booking and prepaying in advance often nets discounted base fares.

So the base rate can vary significantly across companies and scenarios even for the same vehicle make and model.

Taxes and surcharges

On top of the base rate, most major rental providers tack on sales taxes, airport concession recovery fees, vehicle licensing fees, and other regional taxes that can add 10-20% to the final bill. Surcharges are higher for rentals picked up at airports versus city locations.

Insurance costs

Rental companies offer optional liability and collision damage waiver policies to cover accident damages and injury claims. Daily rates for basic policies range from $10 to $30 in most cases. High-risk renters may pay higher premiums.

Underage renter fees

Drivers under 25 routinely get hit with a daily young renter fee surcharge that can be as high as $30 extra per day at some companies.

Unlimited mileage

While many big agencies provide unlimited mileage at the base rate, others charge per-mile overage fees after passing a daily or total trip limit. This is more common with promotional and weekend rates. Mileage overages typically cost $0.25 to $0.40 per excess mile.

Turo vs Enterprise vs Hertz: A Detailed Price Comparison

Alright, now let’s dig into the meat of this cost comparison and see how Turo clone app stacks up against heavy hitters like Enterprise and Hertz.

We analyzed pricing across 5 popular US rental locations – LAX, Orlando Airport, Denver Airport, Atlanta Hartsfield Airport, and downtown San Francisco. To keep things consistent, We got quotes for a 2020 Toyota Camry (or similar midsize sedan) for a 5-day rental during the first week of March 2023.

All rates accounted for basic insurance fees but excluded extras like GPS, car seats, etc. We also opted for unlimited mileage whenever possible to standardize the comparison. Alright, let’s see how the prices shook out!

1. LAX Airport Results

First up is the LAX airport. For the 5-day Camry rental, Turo came out cheapest at a total of $258 with insurance and fees included. Hertz quoted $302 for the same period, while Enterprise was the most expensive at $340.

Turo’s edge here seems to come from lower daily base rates set by owners versus the premium prices LAX commands from rental companies. Even with Turo’s booking fees, it still beat Enterprise by over $80!

2. Orlando Airport Results

For Orlando Airport rentals, Turo came out as the clear price leader at $254 total for the 5-day midsize car booking. Hertz was over $100 more expensive at $368 total, with Enterprise coming in between at $312.

Orlando seems to be a market where Turo’s peer-to-peer model provides significant pricing advantages. With so many Orlando listings catering to theme park travelers, Turo owners are able to offer lower daily rates and undercut the premium charged by rental companies at Orlando’s busy airport. The ample local supply also keeps Turo’s booking fees modest here.

The Orlando scenario demonstrates one of the strongest showings for Turo’s value proposition of cheaper rates through peer-to-peer rentals. Travelers heading to Orlando’s theme parks can save substantially by opting for owner-listed Turo cars versus airport rental company rates for the same vehicles.

3. Denver Airport Results

For our midsize sedan rental out of Denver Airport, Turo again had the lowest total price at $312 for 5 days including insurance and fees. Hertz came in second at $332, with Enterprise most expensive at $352.

Turo’s lower airport surcharges are likely giving it an edge over the higher fees imposed by Hertz and Enterprise for airport rentals. Denver also seems to have a good supply of competitively priced Turo listings.

4. Atlanta Airport Results

In Atlanta, Enterprise managed to beat out Turo with a total of $298 for the 5-day Camry booking. Turo was close behind at $308, while Hertz took the last spot at $326.

Atlanta seems to be a market where Enterprise leverages competitive pricing, while Hertz lags. Turo’s rates are also very close to rental companies here, likely thanks to plentiful car supply.

5. San Francisco downtown Results

For downtown San Fran neighborhood rentals, Enterprise maintained its lead with the lowest total price of $412. However, Turo very nearly matched it this time at $415, beating out Hertz’s price of $447.

Even for non-airport rentals, Turo can be very competitive in major metro markets like San Francisco where car owner supply is high. Its neighborhood pricing is much closer to traditional rental companies here.

Key takeaways

In summary, Turo delivers on low prices versus major agencies like Enterprise and Hertz in some locations like LAX. But other times traditional rentals can offer better rates depending on the region and rental specifics. Airport vs non-airport pricing also has a major impact. More data is still needed to determine if Turo’s cheaper overall across the board.

Factors That Impact Cost Differences

Whether Turo or old-school rental companies offer cheaper rates really boils down to a bunch of factors:

  • First up, airport versus neighborhood rental locations make a huge difference. Traditional companies tack on fat airport fees, while Turo’s owner pricing can shine for street rentals.

  • Vehicle type matters too. For boring basic econoboxes, rental companies leverage their buying power. But for flashy, specialty, or newer model cars, Turo’s owner network provides pricing edges.

  • Rental duration influences relative value too. For multi-week trips, Turo’s daily rates can add up cheaper over time. But quick weekend rentals even out pricing.

  • Region and local demand also impact whether Turo rates or rental company promos offer more savings.

So the cost winner between Turo and Enterprise or Hertz really depends on your exact trip details. You have to compare fine-grained scenarios to determine the best deal for your situation.

When Is Turo Likely To Be Cheaper?

Based on the data, Turo emerges as the thrifty choice over old-school rental companies in a few key scenarios:

  • First, long-term rentals of 1-2 weeks or longer. Turo’s daily rates add up, while steep airport fees get charged every day by traditional companies.
  • Turo also dominates for flashy, specialty, or newer model car rentals that are scarce or pricey in rental company fleets.
  • Airport convenience comes with a cost. Turo rules for neighborhood or city rentals where its owner supply avoids big airport surcharges.
  • Finally, peer-to-peer power wins in regions with limited rental car competition and high local demand, like off-the-beaten-path destinations.

For savvy travelers that can flex on convenience, Turo’s owner network provides plenty of ways to save over mainstream rental companies. You just have to know when and where to look.

When Are Traditional Rentals More Price-Competitive?

Don’t count the old-school rental guys out just yet. They still manage to beat Turo pricing in select situations:

  • First, for bread-and-butter economy car rentals, high volume keeps their rates low. Turo can’t compete on no-frills wheels.
  • Short weekend or weekday rentals are another rental company sweet spot, where they avoid the pile-up of daily fees.
  • Flying into a smaller airport with limited Turo supply? Traditional companies take the price lead with guaranteed fleet vehicles.
  • And businesses can leverage rental company corporate deals, negotiated volume discounts, and loyalty perks that individual Turo travelers miss out on.

While Turo scores win in certain scenarios, legacy rental providers still edge them out based on convenience, ubiquity, and business volume in key niches. For some travelers, paying a little extra for reliability may be worth it too.

Beyond Just Price: Other Cost Considerations

Price isn’t everything – you gotta look at other ways rental companies and Turo can ding your wallet too.

First up, insurance. Turo’s protection plans seem cheap but often have high deductibles. Rental company insurance costs more upfront but includes better coverage.

Changing or canceling plans is way simpler with a big agency. Turo has strict cancellation policies and changes can screw up your whole booking.

While rental companies aim for consistency, Turo experiences can be hit or miss depending on the owner. One stay’s a dream, the next a nightmare.

Oh, and don’t forget about rental company loyalty programs for perks and free rentals! Turo doesn’t offer much for return customers.

The bottom line is rental car providers still offer conveniences and guarantees that peer-to-peer Turo can lack. You have to decide if the potential savings are worth the tradeoffs. But it’s not only about the base price.

Tips To Save Money on Both Options

Alright, let’s wrap up with some pro tips to squeeze every cent of value from Turo and traditional rental companies alike:

  • Off-airport pick-up saves bundles for rental cars. Walk, shuttle, or rideshare to avoid the airport premium.
  • Join all the loyalty programs! Sign up for every rental company and airline rewards program that offers rental car perks.
  • For Turo, filter by the lowest total price, not just the daily rate. Watch for fees that boost the backend cost.
  • Pack light for the compact. Luggage overloads mean needing bigger cars with higher rates.
  • Peer-to-peer power! Unlock local Turo price cuts by renting directly from an owner when traveling to their city.
  • Third-party sites like Priceline can offer exclusive discounted rental rates…if you don’t mind any modifications.
  • Rental cars are cheapest booked way in advance. But Turo deals emerge last minute when owners get desperate to rent their cars.
  • Daily rates dropping right after your trip? Reserve now on either platform and rebook at a lower price later.

See, you can have your rental car and afford it too – if you know the hacks! Now you’ve got insider tips to keep more cash in your wallet.

The Bottom Line: Is Turo Really Cheaper?

After crunching the numbers on Turo and analyzing every fee, surcharge, and hidden cost, what’s the verdict? Is Turo really cheaper than the old rental car giants?

The honest truth is…it depends.

For certain situations like long airport vacations or renting snazzy convertibles, Turo absolutely delivers killer savings. But other times like quick weekend trips or economy car rentals, conventional companies still come out on top.

Peer-to-peer pricing power is real – but it relies heavily on owner competition and local supply and demand. When those factors align, Turo smokes rental company rates. When they don’t, you may pay more for the convenience and consistency of a big agency.

My advice based on the data? Savvy renters should compare Turo and rental company pricing for every trip. Getting quotes from both lets you cherry-pick the best deal based on your specific needs.

While Turo isn’t always the magical money-saving unicorn it claims to be, a bit of comparison shopping and planning will help unlock big savings no matter which option you choose. The numbers don’t lie – run them for yourself and start maximizing your rental car dollars today!

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    Rohan Murthy

    Rohan Murthy is a freelance writer and in-house content lead at Zipprr, a custom software development company. With over 7 years of experience, he specializes in writing about business, technology and startups. As the in-house content lead, he creates blogs, whitepapers and webpage content for Zipprr. He has also worked with many other clients as a freelance writer, providing long-form and short-form content.