Travelers leaving town for a few days can now earn some extra cash from the car they leave home. Car-sharing companies are linking car owners with car renters. But before drivers can stuff that extra money in their pockets, they'll first have to let strangers get behind the wheel of their car.
While on vacation in California, Jordan Fackrell tried out the unusual kind of car rental service. After Fackrell landed at the Los Angeles airport from his home in Provo, Utah, the company FlightCar arranged to pick him up and take him to a nearby lot, where he could rent a car belonging to another traveler who was out of town.
"They were way cheaper than anyone else I found," Fackrell said. "[FlightCar] didn't have any hidden fees ... it was probably about half as much as I've paid before for other rentals for the same amount of time. And I got a much nicer car. I got a BMW."
In addition to Los Angeles, FlightCar also offers this service at airports in Boston and San Francisco. The company plans to expand to Seattle sometime in October.
Car-sharing competitors, like Relay Rides, offer similar services and boast prices 30 percent to 40 percent cheaper than traditional car-rental companies.
FlightCar says its rentals cost between $25 and $30 per day. And if you're the car owner, you could earn $25 to $100 per week, and receive free parking and a car wash.
"I think enough people are out there who would love to have a little bit extra money," said Dennis Romero, technology and general assignment reporter for L.A. Weekly. "I'm not sure that'll be the case in the future as the economy gets stronger and people start to buy newer cars -- I'm not sure you'd want someone in your brand-new car."
Robert Martin has used FlightCar four times to rent out his vehicle. When asked if he's ever concerned about strangers using his car, he said: "Yeah ... at first it's kind of strange. But I don't know. I think people are pretty cool. They know they're driving somebody's car, so I think they're nicer."
According to the company's motto, FlightCar "runs on (Car)Ma." The company says its renters are covered under their own driver's insurance, but customers can also purchase additional coverage through FlightCar. In case of an accident, the company says car owners need not worry because FlightCar insures vehicles for up to a million dollars.