Is Turo Worth it? | Airbnb for cars

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Is Turo worth it? If you’re asking yourself this, you’re probably wondering how you can use your vehicle to generate some income. Here’s the thing, Turo is known as the Airbnb of cars, but many people wonder if it’s a legit business opportunity. The short answer is that it can be very lucrative for aspiring entrepreneurs since it’s accessible, flexible, and scalable. In other words, you have control over how you run things. Keep reading now to find out how Turo works for hosts and is Turo worth it?

Is Turo worth it?

What is Turo?

Before I get into the details of being Turo hosts, let’s take a quick look at what is Turo. Since Turo is a peer-to-peer car sharing service, it’s often referred to as Airbnb for cars. Hosts can put their vehicle (or fleet) on the Turo platform, allowing guests to book them.

It doesn’t matter if you have a traditional car or a Tesla model. You can put your car up in Turo.

The company was founded in the United States but has operated in Canada since 2016. When they originally arrived, they were only available in Ontario, Alberta, and Quebec, but you can now host as a British Columbia and Nova Scotia resident. Although the company has been around for just five years, more than 1 million Canadians have signed up with Turo, and more than 44,000 cars are available in the country. Currently, Turo is available in about 370 Canadian cities, and you can also find Turo vehicles in the USA and United Kingdom.

Why host on Turo?

There are so many reasons why you may want to become a host on Turo, but here are some of the most obvious ones:

  • You’re looking to earn some passive income
  • Your vehicle mostly sits in your garage, so it’s available for guests
  • You want to be an entrepreneur
  • You want the flexibility to scale up or down your business as needed

For many people, Turo is a great way to test their small business skills. If you already own a vehicle, you can get it listed in less than 10 minutes. Managing your bookings and dealing with guests is done entirely through the platform, so you’re set up with tools to succeed right from the start.

Car owners can basically use their vehicle as a rental car. Renters are attracted to Turo because it’s often cheaper than car rental companies. In addition, hosts can offer some additional services, such as airport pickup. 

Some hosts will scale up their fleet as they get more bookings, while others will be more than happy to just make their vehicle bookable when they don’t need it. How much time you devote to Turo is entirely up to you. That means you can be a full-time host, or you can run things as a side hustle. The flexibility is what many people love about Turo, as you can manage things on your terms. Oh, the extra income is nice too.

How much can you make from Turo?

If you want to know, is Turo worth it, the odds are you want to know about the financial benefits. Your potential income is dependent on how many bookings you get, but the Turo website lists the average annual earnings among all Canada-based hosts with at least ten trip days per month as follows:

  • $9,337 – 1 car
  • $28,010 – 3 cars
  • $46,684 – 5 cars
  • $65,358 – 7 cars
  • $84,031 – 9 cars

For the average host with a single vehicle, they’re generating an average income of $778 a month which isn’t bad at all for a self owned car rental service. As you can see, scaling up your business could potentially give you higher returns, but you’ll likely need to devote more time.

How you run your business is up to you. Some hosts will offer specific vehicles such as electric cars, convertibles, dog-friendly cars, or even cars with a bike rack on the platform. This is a simple way to make your vehicle/s stand out. There are also practical approaches, such as trucks, that are useful for people who want to move.

How to get set up on Turo

Getting set up on Turo is easy, as it only takes about 10 minutes. Once you create an account, you’ll provide your vehicle details and upload some images. You’ll also be prompted on availability and pricing. Turo does have an automatic pricing feature which gives you a good estimate of what you should be charging guests. There is one catch, your vehicles can’t be older than 12 years.

Once all your info is up, you’re pretty much good to go. Turo vets all your guests before they’re accepted on the platform, so you’ll know that anyone requesting to book your car has a solid driving record. You can set up your account to approve drivers, but many hosts set it to auto-approve to make the process quicker.

What makes Turo appealing to guests is the customer service aspect. You’ll be interacting with guests via the Turo app regularly. The best hosts have quick response times and provide detailed instructions for pick up. You even have the option to drop off wherever the guest is located (you set the range and price for this optional service).

Being a great host requires you to focus on the customer. Guests who use Turo aren’t always looking for the cheapest solution possible, they want an experience. With Turo, guests know exactly which vehicle they’re getting. It’s recommended you take a bunch of photos of your vehicle before each guest departs with your car as there will be evidence to support both sides if an issue arises.

Turo prioritizes the safety of hosts and guests. Through Intact, you get up to $2 million in liability coverage and physical damage coverage up to the car’s full value with no deductible for hosts. Residents of British Columbia are covered by ICBC. If that wasn’t good enough, Turo also provides 24/7 roadside assistance and has customer support available every day of the week for both hosts and guests.

What are the Turo fees?

Although signing up for Turo as a host is free, you do need to pay a cut of your profits to the company. How much you’ll pay depends on your chosen plan (which can be changed within your profile at any time). In Canada, plans breakdown as follows with your percentage of the cut.

  • Standard plan – 70% (Turo takes 30%)
  • Commercial host plan – 90% (Turo takes 10%)

The standard plan is what most people go with. It’s also worth mentioning that Turo has no monthly or annual fees. You only pay if you get a booking. Your cut is paid out via Stripe directly to your bank account, and it usually shows up within 1-5 business days after a guest booking ends.

Admittedly, some people will find the 30% cut that Turo takes from the standard plan to be high. You do get a comprehensive insurance package (protection plan) with no deductible, so you could argue that the cut Turo takes is reasonable.

To be fair, Uber and Lyft take a fee of roughly a third of your earnings, and you need to pay for gas out of your pocket. With Turo, guests pay for the gas, so you could argue Turo is better on your wallet as a comparable small business option. Also, you can scale up easily with Turo since you could add more cars to your fleet.

Note that since this is income, hosts are responsible for paying taxes on their earnings. You’ll also want to keep detailed records of your expenses, as you may be able to claim some when you’re ready to file.

Pros and cons of Turo

Is renting your car on Turo worth it? That’s really up to each individual to decide, but you can look at the pros and cons of Turo to help you reach your conclusion.

Pros of Turo

  • Earn additional income – You can take your depreciating asset and generate some income.
  • Flexible – You can scale your business up or down depending on your needs.
  • Accessible – It only takes a few minutes to get signed up.
  • Helps reduce car payments – Putting your vehicle on Turo will generate income that can help pay down your auto loan.
  • Security deposit – Turo will charge guests under the age of 30 a CA$1,500 deposit to book a Deluxe Class car

Cons of Turo

  • Not all cars available – Your car must be no older than 12 years to be listed on Turo.
  • Not all areas are in demand – Vehicles available where there are a lot of tourists get booked more often than those located in the suburbs.
  • Fees – The standard plan where Turo takes a 30% cut may be a lot to some people.
  • Guests can be unpredictable – Although Turo vets guests, you may still encounter ones that don’t treat your vehicle respectfully or have unrealistic expectations.

Is Turo worth it?

So is Turo worth it? For many people, the answer will be yes. Turo can be the perfect way for many Canadians to start a side hustle with little effort. Earning extra income is rarely a bad thing and you can choose how active you’ll be on the platform. It’s also significantly less labour-intensive compared to other similar side gigs, such as being a rideshare driver or delivering food. Signing up for Turo as a host could be a smart financial move.

About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi

7 Comments

  1. Arthur DuBois on July 8, 2021 at 5:07 PM

    I would definitely agree that starting a business on Turo is worth it. I particularly liked your comment about “starting a side hustle is rarely not worth it”. This is especially true with something that’s scalable like Turo because it’s relatively easy for the business to grow and grow. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Steve Bridge on July 13, 2021 at 2:45 AM

    Great review, Barry. Thanks for doing this.
    Steve

  3. Alan White on January 10, 2022 at 10:17 AM

    Hi Barry,

    Thanks for this review on Turo. I have been wondering for a while if Turo offers a good service, and in my experience, it turned out that I felt disappointment when I had to submit a claim because the car I had rent was down.
    However, if no problem occurs, that is surely a very useful app.

    Keep up with the good work buddy.

    Alan

  4. David Paul on May 18, 2022 at 3:40 AM

    Hello, I have the same impression. Do you think that Turo offers such a good service?

  5. Henry Dupion on August 19, 2022 at 6:04 AM

    Hi Barry,
    Thanks for the great article. Actually, I am doing business through Turo, and I find it a very good service for customers, and a good way to make little extra-earnings. Now that inflation is going up, it is more useful than ever when your salary does not grow on the same pace than prices… It is will be important to check if the government will decide or not to tax the incomes generated through that, as it is the case in many countries in Europe for example. If so, that would make Turo much less attractive for car owners…

  6. Thommy Leroy on April 13, 2023 at 11:36 AM

    Turo cut should be less or 20% max if not 15%. Why would i pay for insurance while im not the one driving???…….Uber is insuring ME as a driver…..i stopped renting my amazing Prius because of their cut being too high. When you calculate all the charges and risks its not really worth it nowdays.

  7. Andy Kiel on July 16, 2023 at 9:57 AM

    As a former all star host for Turo, all I can say is if you’re thinking of becoming a host – RUN. Turo works great until it doesn’t. They don’t do proper due diligence when screening guests (you have to verify the drivers license, it could be fake or expired and places the responsibility back on the host). Their customer service and claims process is an absolute joke. If you care about your car, please don’t list it on Turo. They do very little to absolutely nothing to protect the host if there is damage to the vehicle.

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