If you hate to pay for long-term parking at the airport, would you consider letting someone else drive it while you’re away?
A peer-to-peer company called FlightCar will take your car while you’re out of town and rent it out. Currently, it has offices in Boston, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
“Say for instance you’re going on a 5-day trip. We would wash it. Prep it. Make it look nice and clean. And then we would rent it the whole time you’re gone. And when you do arrive back, you would receive a check for your car being rented,” says assistant manager Kenneth Boyd.
I left my own car with them – a 2003 Honda Civic. For a car like mine, lenders can expect to earn around 10 cents per mile.
But some customers aren’t financially motivated.
“The money is less important than the idea of participating in a sharing economy, and sharing my car with somebody who might need it while I’m not using it,” says Leslie Tamaribuchi, who has left her Fiat with the company six times.
To get the full experience, I also rented someone else’s car: a 2011 Mercedes C 300, which cost me $60 a day – less than half of what competing rental companies charge.
The car’s owner, Brett Hobbs, needed a place to store his Mercedes while he was away for almost four months.
“You get an email every time your car is rented out. And as soon as we left, the emails started pouring in, saying that, ‘Good news. Your car was rented.’ And, I sort of realized: 'Wow. My car really is a rental car now,'” says Hobbs.
If someone crashes the car while it’s being rented, FlightCar will provide up to $1 million in liability coverage.
Someone who rented Hobb’s Mercedes was involved in a fender-bender.
“FlightCar took care of the damage before we got home,” says Hobbs.
In the end, renters put 6000 miles on his car. In return, Hobbs got paid about $1,500.
How does the income compare to the depreciation of the car? Hobbs says, “I think it’s probably pretty close to a wash.”
Hobbs says he’d use FlightCar again, but next time, he’d leave his older car – a 2006 BMW.
In my case, my Honda was rented twice. Within a week, I got a check in the mail from FlightCar for a little more than $5 - enough to cover the cost of driving to and from the airport.