TEMPE, AZ (3 On Your Side) - It may not be a typical rental, but a neon green 2020 Corvette Stingray and other luxury vehicles in Heidi O'Brien and Ricardo Baptiste's car-sharing fleet on Turo are getting a lot more popular with out-of-town visitors who are facing a shortage of rental car options.
"These are eye-catchers," O'Brien said.
"We provide a Bentley for the same price as a Mustang," Baptiste added.
For the pair, this is a business, and recently, it started to grow rapidly.
"The busier we got, the more cars we got," O'Brien said.
According to Andrew Mok, the company's chief marketing officer for other Turo users, car-sharing is a casual side hustle.
"Maybe they have an idle car sitting around, and they're sharing it with guests who are looking for access to a car. They can make some extra money," Mok said.
According to the company, there has been a spike in first-time users, many driven to the car-sharing app by the surging prices in the traditional rental car market.
"The first thing they notice is, 'Hey, the prices for the rental car industry are insane. They're crazy.' And so they're flocking to Turo because they're seeing that they can get better value for the dollars that they spend," Mok told 3 On Your Side.
A recent survey by cheaparrental.net shows rental car prices are up 30% compared to May 2019.
"There's kind of a perfect storm that's causing this crazy rental car shortage where basically during the pandemic, all of the rental car companies downsized their fleet, they sold off a bunch of their cars," said Caroline Teel, the managing editor at smartertravel.com. "At the same time, there are more people that are interested in domestic trips and road trips."
Analysts predict the rental car shortage will persist through the summer, in part, because of the chip shortage that is slowing down car manufacturing. Despite the demand, Teel says there is money on rental cars this summer.
"Look outside of airport locations. Airport locations tend to be the most expensive and have the least availably," Teel said. "You can also even book a rental car through Uber."
Renters should also check for membership discounts from places like AAA, Costco, and credit card accounts. Consider booking a flight and car rental together as a package deal and reserve a rental car as early as possible.
"Before you even book that flight, look at car rental prices to see how they're looking," Teel said.
While there are legitimate ways to save, the Better Business Bureau is warning travelers to watch out for scammers trying to take advantage of the rental car shortage. According to the BBB's Tierra Terry, rental car scams are being reported nationwide. They often start with an online search and then a phone call with someone imitating a legitimate rental car company.
"They let the consumer know, 'Hey, we have a great deal if you complete this transaction if it's done with a gift card or a prepaid debit card,'" Terry said. "They claim it's a partnership with the gift card company, and in all reality, they're going to ask you for the card number and the pin and ultimately scam consumers out of their money."
The BBB says consumers should make a payment for a rental car with a gift card or prepaid debit card to avoid rental car scams. The organization says it is also important to only use contact information listed on the legitimate company's website and beware of sponsored links that may link to fake websites.