One Way to Make Money While You Travel: Rent Out Your Car

by  Alex Schechter | Mar 10, 2014
Road trip
Road trip / monkeybusinessimages/iStock

One of the best things about boarding a plane to...well, anywhere, and getting away from it all, is leaving behind the nagging concerns of daily life. But a new peer-to-peer website is offering a way for travelers to make a little extra cash while they're on the road by renting out one of their most basic domestic necessities: their car.

Similar to AirBnB, which lets owners rent their living spaces on a per-night rate for budget-focused travelers, FlightCar works by connecting car owners with folks who are looking to borrow their set of wheels while the owners are on vacation. Of course, users pay a fee (usually around $0.10 per mile, depending on the car), so the deal ends up profiting the owners, who return from their trip to a car with a full tank of gas and some extra cash in their wallet.

The best part? Owners drop of their cars at the airport before they travel for maximum convenience. Plus, the program includes free airport parking, even if the car isn't being rented. And if the car is rented, FlightCar staffers wash and vacuum every car before the owner returns to claim it.

So, how does it work? First, owners have to connect with interested renters. This works similarly to any owner-rented lodging site, in which the product (in this case, your car) is listed on the website along with the dates you'll be out of town. If someone likes what they see, they message you through the site, and you get to decide whether or not to rent to them. Then, on the day of departure, simply drive your car to the FlightCar lot next to the airport (FlightCar currently has outposts in Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco), where you'll leave the keys with an attendant, and a car escorts you to your terminal. (Upon your return, you'll also be picked up outside the terminal.)

Of course, the first concern on most owners' minds is the reliability of their potential renter.

To address this, FlightCar provides a full document detailing eligibility requirements for all renters. A valid credit card, for example, is required for drivers under 21, pets and smoking aren't allowed, and drivers cannot leave the country. Meanwhile, FlightCar provides $300,000 in liability insurance with every rental.

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