Got the Drive to Make Extra Money? Rent Your Car to Strangers

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And cars are just a start. You could earn cash by renting out everything from your bathroom to your boat.

Tired of working to pay off your car while it sits parked most of the time?

Consider putting your entrepreneurial spirit in gear and driving some cash your way by renting out your car (or other idle assets) over the Internet to neighbors and strangers.

Roman Plaks told Money Talks News he’s rented out his Prius more than 30 times through RelayRides, touted as the AirBnB of cars.

You list your car with RelayRides, post some photos of it and fill in a calendar of when and where the car is available. Set your price and parameters like daily mileage limits, Plaks said. When someone comes to pick up the car, “You do a checkpoint around the vehicle and hand off your keys,” he said.

It’s not hassle-free, but Plaks says it’s worth it. “I average between $450 and $475 a month,” he said.

An owner of a 1994 Acura MDX in Dublin, California, rents out his car for $36 a day; at Washington Reagan National Airport, a 2014 BMW M5 owner gets $312 a day. Some owners offer delivery; other owners offer their cars for pickup at their homes.

RelayRides tries to ease the hassle and the concern about handing your car over to strangers by providing a $1 million insurance policy that covers your car whenever it’s being rented. RelayRides also provides roadside service when the car is rented. It keeps 25 percent of your rental fee to help pay for the reservation system, apps, insurance, roadside service and screening of renters.

After a car is returned, owners and renters rate each other, which organizers say helps keep people on both sides of the transaction honest.

Founded in San Francisco in 2009, RelayRides went national in 2012 and now boasts 800-plus models, service in 2,100 cities (but not New York City) and 300 airports.

“There are 300 million cars in the United States for 200 million drivers so there’s plenty of idle capacity of cars,” Andre Haddad, RelayRides CEO, told Bloomberg Business. “It’s actually one of the most underutilized assets that are out there.”

To get in on the action, your vehicle must be model year 2005 or newer, have fewer than 100,000 miles and have a fair market value of up to $75,000, RelayRide says. Owners of older models who signed up earlier and keep their cars in good condition are allowed to remain on rental lists.

Owners have encountered problems, but RelayRides says it provides support. In one case reported by Consumer Affairs, an Arizona man rented his Dodge Caravan to a woman who said she was taking it out of town to a church convention. After failing to return the minivan on time and later dodging the Dodge owner’s calls, she eventually came clean: She’d turned the minivan over to her son, who was caught driving on a suspended license. Police impounded the minivan, and a judge initially would not recognize peer-to-peer car rentals as legitimate. RelayRides said it covered the owner’s expenses, including paying for a rental while his car was in lockup.

Trying to supplant Hertz and Avis is just one way to make money sharing what you own.

“It’s amazing to me, people are looking for ways to make money and yet there are all these idle assets that are underutilized that could mint you money,” Maynard Webb, Yahoo chairman who funded RelayRides, told Bloomberg Business.

A PricewaterhouseCoopers study said only 7 percent of Americans are providers in the sharing economy, but of them more than 1 in 3 are 45 and older; nearly 1 in 4 come from households where the income is $100,000 and up a year.

In a study by Radius Global Market Research, 88 percent of consumers agreed that sharing-economy companies provide income not otherwise available; more than 9 in 10 agreed they make it easier for consumers to get the products and services they want.

So what do people share? Among highlights compiled by Lifehackers and others:

  • Rooms, apartments and homes through apps like AirBnB, VRBO (vacation rental by owner) and Homestay.
  • Home yards for meetings, parties and wedding venues via TheHitch, Evenues and Venuelust.
  • Coveted parking spots via Spot.
  • Yards for camping via Gamping.
  • Clothes via DateMyWardrobe and StyleLend.
  • Themselves to do cleaning, chores, errands and handyman services via Taskrabbit.
  • Camera and video equipment via Cameralends.
  • Bathrooms via Airpnp, if they live near major tourist attractions or event venues.
  • Boats via Boatbound, which also provides liability and damage insurance.
  • Wi-Fi networks via Fon, which arranges trades mainly for travelers.
  • Household goods from power tools to camping gear via Loanables, RentNotBuy and Neighborgoods.

What money-making sharing ideas do you have? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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